The Way to Build a Contract

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David Stubbs of Acute Security

David Stubbs of Astute Security and Jim McKenna of the Travis Perkins Group have built a holistic seven element contract development programme, based on best practice in the wider business community.

Whilst building this program the authors have considered the content of two management models:

  1. The SCOR model advocating careful planning, constant measurement and continuous improvement.
  2. London Centre of Excellence (LCE) & London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) (2007) best practice manual titled You & Your Contractor: a manual of best practice for contract and relationship management practitioners.

The seven elements are: Set the contract's objective(s); build a solution in partnership; identify and communicate with all stakeholders; set targets and measure performance against those targets; report performance; retain and value security staff; develop security staff in line with the contracts objectives. The result: A long term high quality security contract that constantly develops in line with the business objectives of contractor and client. While presented as a sequential approach many steps act in unison.


Element One: Set Contract Objectives

Not as easy as it sounds, there are many things to consider. We had to ensure that both client and contractor had a goal for this contract and that the objectives were a clear path to obtain that goal for both businesses. We found this ten step model from the National Primary and Care Trust very useful.

  1. Objectives are your battle-plan. Set as many objectives as you need.
  2. Use SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
  3. Consider the order M-A/R-S-T is often best.
  4. Measurable is the most important. This is the evidence.
  5. Achievable is linked to measurable. It is achievable if: it is measurable and others have achieved it or it is theoretically possible. You have the resources. You have assessed the limitations.
  6. It is achievable but it may not be realistic in your environment. You need to know: who is responsible? Do they have the required competencies? Do you have the budget?
  7. The main reason it is achievable but not realistic is that it's not a priority. Often something else has priority. If so, set up two (or more) objectives in priority order.
  8. The devil is in the specific detail. You will know your objective is specific enough if: everyone involved knows it includes them; everyone involved understands it; you have defined your terms.
  9. Timely means setting deadlines. You must include one, otherwise your objective isn't measurable.
  10. Worth the effort? You'll know you've done your job well, and so will others.

By introducing these steps to our planning process we were able to align client and contractor ensuring when we build our solution we do so in partnership.


Element Two: Build a Solution in Partnership

The Oxford Dictionary describes a partner as "one of a pair of people who do something together". It is based around equality where each brings their area of expertise. By developing a partnership approach the relationship between client and contractor naturally evolves. You should share information and both value the trusting environment that develops. Critical to a true partnership is the inclusion of mutual goals. These mutual goals provide a strong reason for the relationship¹s continuance. Wilson, Soni and O'Keeffe (1994) suggest that mutual goals influence performance satisfaction which, in turn, influences the level of commitment to the relationship.

Four key steps to encourage a partnership approach:

  1. Align the goals of client and contractor;
  2. Ensure that the solution considers and targets the goals of both businesses;
  3. Eliminate the blame culture that often exists; and
  4. Create an ongoing contract management plan.

This environment will attract investment, particularly by the contractor, who should use the freedom to bring innovation and solution improvements. It will also encourage dialogue; both will feel free to highlight service issues. Jim McKenna says: "From the outset we have worked as true partners to obtain a common set of contract goals. The partner approach for us means investing time and research to harness the solution against the true contract requirements." Having now established a partnership we must consider the other people that our solution may impact upon or who may impact upon our solution. We must establish clear lines of communication.

This article first appeared as two separate articles in Professional Security Magazine. Contact us if you are interested in finding out more about Professional Security Magazine or subscribing to it.