The management and monitoring of the performance of a contract is very important. It is also important to review the contract in terms of the goods/services and benefits it has delivered to the institution.
Where the contract is for a one-off purchase, the monitoring function may be limited to ensuring that the goods or services will be delivered at the appointed time. It can also mean that you need to ensure that actions required by the institution, itself, have been completed in time to ensure that the end-user is ready to accept the goods or services. For example, you will have heard stories about a supplier being put under pressure to deliver a new piece of equipment only to find that when it is about to arrive, the space isn’t ready. Not being ready to accept goods and services can end up costing the institution money especially if interim arrangements have to be made to cope with the delay.
In the longer term, it can be useful to seek feedback on what was delivered once the end-users have had an opportunity to use the goods or services. For example, did the goods or services meet the users’ expectations, if not, why not' This feedback is very important and will help improve future specifications.
Where a contract is for the provision of goods or services over a period of time it will be important to monitor the supplier’s performance. Monitoring will often take the form of regular meetings between the managing department (for example the Procurement Office), the supplier and either
- Representatives from the institution’s main user departments, or
- Using feedback from end-users and bringing a summary report to the review meeting with the supplier
Where possible other objective management information should be collected and used. This will be possible where there are computerised systems in place. In practice, it is more likely that this type of management information will be available for the supplier and not the institution. The type and style of management information required under the contract should have be defined in the tender documentation.
Initially, as the new arrangement is introduced and the end-users and supplier(s) learn about each other, the level of monitoring may need to be higher. As the contract settles in, the frequency of performance review meetings may be reduced, however, they should not stop.
In addition to this face-to-face type monitoring, it will also be important to ensure that the contract is being supported by the institution. This is possible by reviewing the uptake of the contract by end-users.
A risk assessment for this stage of the procurement cycle is provided, and further guidance is available:
- Crown Commercial Services Contract Management Guidance including a useful summary of the fundamental activities during the operational phase of a contract, a contract management monitoring schedule and management standards which could be amended to suite college needs.
- A Guide to Contract Management
- An example of a colleges Contract Management Review Document
- Cabinet Office Guidance on Monitoring a Suppliers Financial Standing
- Cabinet Office Guidance on Corporate Financial Distress