Welcome to part three of contract monitoring and managing for RFAs, RFPs and RFQs. When managing a contract, you have three major levers at your disposal to help you navigate the delivery of your objectives. These are time, money and resources. Every decision you make will have bearing on one or more of these levers, and it’s important to understand how your decisions affect them so you can ultimately manage the quality of your deliverable.
To help you navigate issues related to timing, it’s imperative that you have a calendar that contains all of the activities, deadlines and deliveries necessary to complete the project. This calendar can come in any number of shapes and sizes but you want to make sure that it’s shared with all appropriate resources on the project. You also want to make sure the tasks are properly sequenced within the calendar and the deliverables are broken down into achievable bite sized chunks. As one of your key management duties, create a regular check-in routine with your project staff and partners. This might be daily, weekly or some other timeframe appropriate to the project. Then use this check-in as a way to stay in front of the project. In my experience, it’s incredibly easy to have even the most simple things sneak up on you, like booking travel and accommodations, and I’m often surprised at how quickly two or three months pass in a project given the amount of time that it takes to win the work. Your check-in process should also include your client, but perhaps on a less frequent basis than with your staff and partners. As you navigate the project, and take decisions to change aspects of the project, make sure any changes are reviewed and acknowledged by your project team. The reason that paying attention to your schedule is so important is because, in my experience, projects are often delayed or overrun their planned time. This can dramatically affect not only your profitability, but also your ability to operate. Because of this, the best practice is to simply be prepared for delays and, whenever possible, provide time and money buffers within your proposed project as contingencies. A second aspect of time management deals with logistics. Use your calendar to get in front of purchasing and mobilization of resources that don’t need to complete your project. For example, if you have travel for staff or consultants, get it booked as early as possible or if you have supplies or materials, don’t delay in getting them mobilized. We generally don’t operate in a “just-in-time” industry, but if you are in infrastructure or provide a service that is product intensive it’s in your interest to get smart about logistics.
The second major lever available to a project manager is money. When you proposed your project, you also put together a proposed budget within which you would finance the project. In my experience, budgets are really just a best guess and the more experience you have with a particular technical expertise, geographic location or niche, the more realistic your budget can and should be. Depending upon the complexity and size of your project, create or buy a system that allows you to keep track of your financials quickly and easily. This could be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet (which I think is the de facto standard), but it could also be as complex as a module within a robust project management software. As a project manager it’s important for you to also understand the difference between project related costs and overhead or administrative costs. In my experience, project related costs can usually be managed with a significant amount of flexibility and ultimately lead to additional profit or available funds that can be used for other initiatives. In contrast, I’m a big believer in making sure that you have robust administrative support for your projects and I always tried to avoid cutting corners from these line items. Whenever possible, it’s always a good idea to have contingency funds. These are funds held in reserve in the case of a major issue, change or unforeseen circumstance on a project. In our industry, is often difficult to budget for contingency specifically, because of the nature of our funding sources, but it’s always a good idea to propose it. A final aspect of money that should always be on the project manager’s mind is profit. Regardless of your business model, everyone is interested in profit because it ultimately leads to growth and sustainability. In a for-profit organization, profits are either distributed to shareholders or reinvested in the company, and in a not-for-profit organization profit is either reinvested in other areas are used to expand overhead.
The third major lever available to a project manager are the non-financial resources allocated to the project. This really includes a huge swath of potential items – everything from staff members to the raw materials to make cement. Because of the nature of our business, I find it most important to hone your skills related to human resources. As a project manager, you need to respect the varying degrees of control you exercise of your staff, consultants and partner organizations. Also, you should also become very adept in the art of delegation. Especially when you’re just starting out by yourself, or you’re in a small organization, it’s so tempting to do everything yourself. But really this costs you dearly in terms of time and energy. I recommend that, as soon as possible, you put together a core team of outsourcers to help you with things like travel and logistics, accounting, legal and information technology issues.
There are two other critical considerations you need to keep in mind when taking decisions that will ultimately affect your ability to deliver your objectives. These considerations are a part of the next session in this training. Thank you for watching this section of contract monitoring and managing for RFAs, RFPs and RFQs. Remember if you have any questions at all please contact us at training@Aidpreneur.com