• Sarah Schutte

June 2016 London UK #eVa21 and APM Conference: "The Impact of Law on Project Managers and the P

This blog post was written to promote the 2016 London UK APM #eVa21 2-day conference and workshop series "Bringing Projects to Life". The conference took place in London, UK on 16-17 June. I was a guest speaker at the conference, talking about "The Impact of Law on Project Managers and the Profession of Project Management" . In addition, I offered a half-day (morning) workshop "The Project Manager's NEC3 Legal Toolkit", Unfortunately, the workshop could not run, but I thought it might be of interest to SCL followers and clients to re-publish the blog here.

It’s tough out there being a Project Manager, isn’t it?
A day in the life

Picture this: you are engaged on a project and you are told you are an essential part of its successful delivery, but not a day goes by without a communication or 10 crossing your desk, notifying you of some anticipated risk event or updating you for the umpteenth time on one you already know about, but haven’t had time to assess yet. Some of the notices appear very petty, which makes you cross, but also nervous. You know you need to be looking in 3 directions, controlling what’s happening right now, containing what has happened and anticipating what’s likely to happen: what a headache!

On top of this, you have to assess the programme, manage risk and act as a go-between for the parties. How are you going to assess the programme, and on what do you (should you) base your assessment? What should you do about notified or suspected risks? How can you encourage the parties to collaborate when they are fighting like cats in a sack?

You’re coming under pressure from all sides. Of course you are: the project is based on an NEC3 contract!

You are not alone: it’s difficult!

A lot has been written about the theory of NEC3, and its contracts are used on high-profile public projects with an eye-watering number of zeros. But research repeatedly tells us that NEC3 disputes are linked to failures to understand and read the contract properly, and to manage it well.

The all-round entertainer

As an NEC3 PM, you are all-singing and all-dancing. You’re expected to live and breathe the project, bring “added-value” to the client, and deliver “best value” to the public purse. Your own organization expects you to make a profit. Sometimes you feel like you’re in a circus, spinning plates! The responsibilities to shaking hands on a NEC3 contract are broad and deep, and are fiendishly difficult to discharge properly.

Differentiate yourself: you’re worth it

NEC3 is like no other contract currently on the market at the same level of popularity. You can’t ignore it, and only a fool would, given that c. 40% of the annual industry spend emanates from the public purse. Its use in increasing, and with it comes a demand for competent and experienced PMs. This environment makes NEC3 PM skills extremely valuable. So it is worthwhile taking the time to invest in dedicated NEC3 training for yourself, in upping your skill-set to enable you meet the challenges illustrated. You need to know how the contract works, and the legal mechanisms available in order to demonstrably go from being a “good” NEC3 PM to a “great” one.

Build your own legal toolkit

Against the backdrop of current market conditions, and the practical reality described above, together with my decade of practical industry experience and in-depth legal knowledge, I created a half day workshop for APM eVa21 centred around the PM’s role in the NEC3 form of contract and this year’s theme of “Bringing Projects to Life”.

The purpose was to explore the fundamental legal principles associated with the NEC3’s core PM functions of planning and programming, collaboration and change management. We would dissect the issues, which cause PMs pain, exchange best practice techniques and debate real-life case studies. Delegates would gain confidence to better manage themselves, and their projects, clients and stakeholders through understanding their duties, and how to play an active, competent part in avoiding and resolving disputes. Each delegate would create and takeaway his/ her own NEC3 legal toolkit.

If you think this workshop would be beneficial to the teams in your organisation, please get in touch!

#collaboration #riskmanagement #projectmanagement #commercialcontracts

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