18 months after the Mosey Report and the creation of the ‘Gold Standard’ review of construction frameworks, Head of Sales for our Contract Manager software, Laura Earnshaw, says that the need for centralised contract management is greater than ever.
It wasn’t all that long ago that central contract management was the preserve of a few major projects working on a select number of contract types, with the rest of the construction industry relying on whatever format of management was demanded by the client or the contractor.
While these systems had worked to an extent, their very nature meant that they were always going to struggle as the industry became increasingly digitalised. This challenge was highlighted by the 2020 launch of the Construction Playbook, and further compounded by 2021’s report from Professor David Mosey, which created an effective “Gold Standard” to which the construction industry should be held.
The upshot of this is that an ever-increasing number of projects are looking into centralised contract management to help them not just keep up with the pace of change, but also give them better visibility of their liabilities.
Adapting to a changing world
The reality that underpins the need for this approach is that managing contracts in the construction industry is an inherently complicated process. The very nature of supply chains, the multiple levels of sub-contracting and the multitude of different types of contracts involved can all add up to a murky picture where the relevant data can be hard to quantify, let alone unify.
Another major factor is the massively broad spectrum of digital literacy across the industry. While some of the bigger players – typically those that are able to resource internal teams that can lead on digital transformation – are already relatively mature in this sense, there are many others that are still finding their way, relying on first generation tools such as emails and spreadsheets to keep abreast of their contracts.
In addition, modern contract types such as NEC4 are notoriously administration heavy and reliant on clear visibility of where responsibilities – and liabilities – lie.
These contacts are designed with the next generation of projects in mind, and this can often mean that methods that were previously reliable have begun to look like they are unable to cope with the rigours of a “Gold Standard” approach.
However, cloud-based contract management solutions can provide the single source of data truth that underpins the standards that the Construction Playbook laid out. By aligning progress, actions and deadlines into one unified platform, those managing the contracts have full transparency and visibility, allowing them to better analyse pinch points and make more informed decisions.
Collaboration is king
Two of the biggest problems the construction industry faces are a reticence to digitise and the legacy of oppositional rather collaborative approaches to contracts. The industry has also been slow to share data more widely, but it’s this data sharing that has allowed this new functionality to ensure a bespoke approach across any type of contract a user may need.
By collating the data centrally, there is also the benefit of avoiding the vagaries of approach to contract management from across the supply chain, ensuring that all the mission critical information needed across contracts is stored in one place – which also has huge benefits when it comes to legal compliance.
This element of control and clarity is what is driving the move towards a more centralised approach to contract management, but the “softer” benefits shouldn’t be overlooked. For example, having a single hub streamlines project and contract management time, which will naturally lead to it becoming a less stressful and time-consuming part of the job – something which shouldn’t be overlooked at a time when the construction industry is tackling a mental health crisis that is taking the lives of the equivalent of two workers a day.
Centralised contract management isn’t the silver bullet to solve all of the issues our industry has, but there is one “c word” that it will help hugely with.
The word “collaboration” features 133 times in the Mosey Report, but in reality, it is something that is hard to quantify or define in a true construction sense. However, with teams across multiple disciplines working on a central platform, such an approach is naturally going to bring engender the kind of collaboration that is needed to continue to bring the construction industry forward.
If we as an industry are going to confidently say we are holding ourselves to a “gold standard”, this kind of collaboration is vital, and centralised contact management might just hold the key to unlocking it.
By working together in this way, we can push the industry forward in terms of greater standardisation, aided by an understanding that software can help tackle some of the industry’s key issues.