We reviewed 10 public sector contract management frameworks. This is what we learned

Dinah SackeyContract Management

When we designed Complete, we wanted an all-rounder; a system that is simple to use, with the potential to build from a base module up to a formidable solution that can handle complex processes. We work with resellers in different regions so wanted to increase our appreciation of what clients are aiming for when defining their contract management processes.

We reviewed 10 contract management frameworks from organisations based in the UK, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand and here is a summary of what they wanted to achieve.

1: Accountability

several of the frameworks we reviewed mentioned the importance of accountability for contract management to ensure proper oversight, continuity, and risk management. Accountability was either an indirect strategic ambition with a system approach to ensuring robust contract management or a directly named senior sponsor to ensure proper contract management throughout the organisation.

2: Defined roles

Our chosen frameworks were very specific about the roles, and sometimes the level of experience, necessary to successfully manage a contract. Roles also had clear escalation pathways to ensure timely resolution of problems as the most senior levels. Distinctive roles included administrator, manager, and director with the expectation that each performed a vital part in the management and oversight of organisational contracts.

3: Effective relationship management

All the frameworks touched on the importance of provider/supplier relationship management to ensure a healthy supply chain and competitive market. The reduction in contract disputes was also a key driver for maintaining strong relationships with ley suppliers.

4: Knowledge management

Several of these frameworks identified the importance of knowledge management. This extended beyond the standardised processes to experience of managing contracts, experience of the sector, knowledge about the provider/supplier marketplace and the ability to ensure enough knowledge retention to assure continuity

5: Standardised and documented processes

An expected inclusion, the desire for standardisation of documents and processes was in all frameworks. The efficiencies expected from standardisation were often cited as the benefit for using systems and tools that could aid standardisation. Standardisation is believed to foster consistency, ensuring that the complexity of contract governance could be well controlled.

6: Performance Management

Whilst not all frameworks explicitly referenced contract KPIs several highlighted the need to monitor obligations and ensure the delivery of the contract. For those that specified contract management KPIs the expectation was that by having these in place an organisation would be able to monitor the success of the contract and ensure internal reporting that would alert to any failures or potential risks to the organisation itself.

7: Financial Management

As all of the frameworks we reviewed were public sector the requirement to ensure timely payment of invoices was key for some. For others the identification of overpayments, the control of budgets, and the ability to identify spending behaviour of key departments. The value for money element was also mentioned several times as many frameworks were keen to ensure that their contract managers could extract best value from their contractual agreements.

8: Service Improvement

Only a handful mentioned service improvement explicitly, but all referred to how a well-managed contract could inform decision making about future procurements or other services. Those that explicated the importance of service improvement were keen to ensure that the contract directly addressed the ongoing need for service improvement, or innovation.

9: Risk stratification

Risk management and risk stratification were frequent contenders in all frameworks. Contract managers and owners were sometimes expected to categorise contracts into high, medium, and low risk dependent on their value and strategic importance. Most frameworks expected active risk management to ensure services were delivered, obligations met, and regulatory requirements adhered to.

10: Contract governance

A catch all but worthy of its own category those frameworks that referred to contract governance were explicit about cyclical reviews – monthly, bi-annually, annually – that involved dialogue about the performance of the contract, any improvement initiatives, and a review of contract performance. These frameworks alluded to the importance of cyclical reviews to ensure proper grip on the contract and early warning should things go wrong.

To find out how Complete CM can help realise your contract management strategy get in touch and book a demo.