Project management, contract management and administration… Find the most frequently asked questions and the MESLI CONSULTING team’s answers.
FAQ PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND PLANNING
Project management is the use of methods which punctuate the project life cycle, contributing to a better organisation and roll-out of the project.
Project management materialises throughout the entire project by the use of best practices, tools, deliverables or in specific roles and gives a methodical framework to the project. The implementation of these procedures during the project execution allow for the project to be carried to term respecting cost and time factors.
It’s the breakdown of the organisation and the hierarchical structure of the company within the entire project portfolio. This breakdown aims to improve the visibility of company projects and favours the monitoring and management of project portfolios in terms of cost and timeframes. This breakdown in used by the PRIMAVERA software suite in the EPPM applications.
It’s the hierarchical breakdown of the project into tasks, sub tasks and activities to facilitate the execution and monitoring of the projects in smaller workloads. It particularly allows for objectives to be fixed at each breakdown level and to execute and produce the desired deliverables. The project breakdown is well chosen when the ultimate stage is made up entirely of elements which have reached a sufficient level of finesse to be estimated, managed and monitored.
The reference planning or baseline corresponds to the initial project planning. Its the finalised version of the planning with all the planned information, validated by the customer at the project launch. It will serve as a reference to carry out the project monitoring at the current date with real values.
Project planning results in the production of a planning of reference (baseline) which allows the project manager to compare differences in terms of costs and deadlines between the actual progress and the planning of reference. Progress monitoring is the analysis of different indicators such as real timeframes, costs, allocation of resources, risk analysis… to reach conclusions on the work carried out and put in place corrective actions if necessary.
Each project task has a margin of time equated to a free or total margin. Free margin refers to the time available up until the beginning of the successive task without affecting the start of the next task. Total margin refers to the time available without impacting the date of the stage in progress or the project end date.
The project manager’s role is to evaluate the resource requirements of the project according to the estimated workload. They must check the availability of the resource to assign it to the appropriate tasks. The resource therefore becomes a capacity.
To not depend on a resource and preserve their interchangeability in the project, a skill is attributed to a resource that we assign to the tasks in the planning.
FAQ CONTRACT MANAGEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION
Contract management aims to defend the interests of a stakeholder in terms of costs and timings.
It can be summarised at the process which allows the management of the contract write up and execution to protect the customer’s interests in order to maximise performance and limit risks.
Contract administration is complementary to contract management, it aims to ensure the implementation of contractual strategies through mail management or electronic document management, progress reports concerning the planning but also invoicing and the management and validation of additional work. It also allows the relationship with suppliers to be monitored and therefore intervene at the right time to prevent and create a pre-litigation defense.
Pre-litigation is a very important phase for the protection of customers and the creation of a dossier by subject in order to preserve the project.
Electronic Document Management is an information tehcnology method aiming to organise and management information and electronic documents within an organisation. It is made up of a document acquisition, filing, storage, indexing and consultation system. EDM is a contract administration to manage contractual documents and all documents relating to the project.
A Request For Information designates a document in which an organisation asks for information concerning a product or service offered by another supplier or service company.
Additional work is work which was not originally defined in the contract and in the service conditions. Therefore it does not appear in the price schedule. Additional work requires a contractual modification and is defined by a price, timeframe and execution conditions.
A contract modification aims to delete, modify or add an element of a contract and impacts cost and time factors and the project perimeter defined in the project.
Upon receiving a customer request for modification, it muse registered in the modification or deliverables monitoring tool. It is attributed with an ID and the date of reception and the people in charge of the modification, if known, are recorded. The tool must record all modifications received. The classification is done according to the criteria attributed, such as codes or key words. Each modification is treated and followed up in accordance with the procedure defined at the beginning of the project so that nothing is forgotten during the project. The list of modifications is regularly updated with new information relating to their treatment.
The FIDIC International Federation of Consulting Engineers offers a range of standard contracts for various international construction projects for which the contractor in charge is not limited to a simple executive role but also participates in it’s development.
In addition to supplying the general conditions which usually oversee a given construction project, FIDIC contracts offer guarantee, tendering, contracting rules and dispute resolution models.
These contract models are clearer and better defined than the majority of adhoc contracts which are imposed by certain customers. The rights and obligations are generally relatively well divided between the contracting authority and the contractor.
A contract amendment is a complementary act to the original act signed by the parties, the amendment aims to complete or modify the clauses of the initial contract. The amendment details the points for which the original agreement is to be modified (price, duration, definition of services…).The elements of the initial agreement are not explicitly covered or implicitly modified by the amendment and remain unchanged.
Attention must be paid to ensure the coherence between the two documents to avoid problems of interpretation which would need the intervention of a judge in case of a problem. Most often, contracts stipulate that the amendments brought to the contract only apply if they are in writing and signed by all parties.
When an accountant has suspended a payment of their own initiative, the issuer can make a written request to the accountant to pay under their own responsibility, known as payment requisition. The suspension of payment must be justified and compulsorily notified in writing to the issuer. The requisition order is not permanent and must be renewed for each contentious expense.
A budgeted expense is an expense included in the project’s estimated budget. A committed expense is an expense which has received validation and can be committed to fulfill the needs of the project.
Today there is a large disconnect in French and International companies managing large projects between operational managers and legal experts who manage contract relations. Companies are often not organised well enough to take on the complexity of contractual documents at stake on projects, operational managers who have these responsibilities don’t have the means to ensure sufficient contract quality. The implementation of a contract management strategy allows procedures and tools to be provided to project stakeholders to guide them in maintaining their contractual commitments.
Procedures and tools which are implemented to better apprehend and monitor contractual commitments will allow project managers to control contractual relationships more precisely. The aim is to ensure the respect of service limitations, commitment to stakeholder responsibility and evaluating the impact of bad procedures on costs and timings. This is also achieved through the improvement of procedures for the reception and treatment of mail and modifications and by invoicing procedures validated by the customer.
Planning and managing deadlines on a project allow for the management of interfaces and stakeholder tasks. Monitoring the execution of workpackages and anticipating delays and risks on a project are a real advantage in optimising the management of a project’s contractual documents. Developing collaborative working between project teams and contract managers favours the sharing of information as much concerning project cost and timing disparities as in the communication of modifying works.
Service limitations reflect the commitment undertaken between the contracting authority and the prime contractor or the supplier of a certain task. They represent the work and responsibilies of the supplier for the work package, they are the conditions for the execution of the package. The service limitations are useful to define the interfaces of the project and manage the relationships between work packages and contractors. In addition they have contractual and legal power in case of a litigation on a supplied service.
Defining the roles of project stakeholders aims to implicate all actors in the project and make them aware of their contractual commitments. In effect, each party commits to producing one or more work packages and respecting the deadlines and costs associated with these deliverables. The project management can therefore follow the production of deliverables and check actual delivery dates compared to contractual agreements.
the management of contract modifications is an important element in the good contract management of a project. Each request for change must be recorded, classified and traced in a specific document. The request is sent to the design office and project manager to carry out a technical estimation then assess the impact on costs and project timings. Contractual response times are fixed for the requests for modifying works. The request is then validated with the stakeholders and implemented on the project.
Implementing a mail management system is necessary to simplify exchanges and process mail by subject. Mail arriving from the customer are referenced to determine who should reply, who should validate the letter and by which date. A database with all mail must be kept updated, it allows for full traceability on mail to later analyse deviations and responsibilities in the treatment of the planning. The frequency of mail review meetings is established according to needs.