Congratulations! After a long and demanding process, you have finally been awarded a contract by a client. As soon as you receive the letter of award, confirming your selection for a particular contract, you need to move fast and plan ahead.
In some cases, a “standstill period” might be required. This gap between letting all tenderers know and the announcement of the final conclusion of a contract might vary from project to project. The typical duration of this pause is at least ten calendar days and gives to the rest of the suppliers the opportunity to act against the decision.
Standstill period or not, you should already start preparing for the contract awarding phase taking into account all the parameters that should be satisfied starting from the contract review and signing checklist and moving further on to the pre-contract meeting and the client onboarding process checklist.
In a nutshell, here is everything you need to keep in mind when you have been awarded a contract:
1. Contract review and signing checklist
Everything starts from the contract review and signing checklist. Its main purpose is to secure that what you are about to sign reflects the agreement that you have already reached with the client.
More specifically, the contract that is about to be signed or submitted for signing should follow the commercial, delivery and financial terms of the tender that you had initially submitted. If there have been any changes or additions to the submitted tender, these modifications should also be reflected on the final contract.
The use of a detailed contract review and signing checklist can play a decisive role in detecting these changes on the terms of the bid. Especially the changes that have been introduced without prior consent by the Managing Director.
That is essential considering that no contract can be signed if it strays away from the terms agreed during the Bid Finalisation Meeting. Unfortunately, this happens more often than many might think.
After the submission of your tender, the post-tender negotiations will begin. In the course of this process, both parties will come with a lot of concessions and the terms of the initial tender will have to be modified.
The problem is that, in many cases, these revisions never make it to the final contract. As a result, outdated drawings are presented for signing or vital contract clauses are ignored. That is extremely dangerous for your company given that once a contract is signed then you are obliged to deliver based on the terms included in it.
Regardless of what you might have discussed with a client at an earlier stage, the only thing that matters eventually is what’s written on the contract. In the past, this has been the source of many legal disputes between clients and contractors. In that sense, ensuring that the correct specifications and technical data sheets are included in your contract is of paramount importance.
The role of a Bid Manager
This is where the Bid Manager comes into the picture. Bid Managers are responsible for protecting your business from contract errors or omissions. To achieve this, they ensure that the contract you are about to sign is thoroughly examined and that no misunderstandings emerge during the bid finalisation meeting. That meeting can make the difference between success and failure in your project.
In short, a Bid Manager should be extra careful in detecting any contractual clause or term that could hinder the smooth development and completion of the project. Once this is done, the Bid Manager should notify the Managing Director in order to resolve the issue before it becomes a threat to your organisation.
For instance, if a Bid Manager receives the final version of the contract and parameters such as the date of completion or the material specifications are different than what was already agreed, it’s his or her duty to let the Managing Director know about it so that they can prevent the signing of a contract that could harm both the project and the business.
All in all, here are the five pillars of action for every Bid Manager when it comes to tender and contract documentation:
- Make sure that the final version of the contract is properly updated and that there are no points that should be changed or deleted.
- Before you sign, check that all drawings and specifications are revised correctly.
- Ensure that all terms included in the contract follows the policies of the company (eg. in terms of insurance).
- Always ask for further clarifications, if necessary.
- The signing of the contract should be done both in soft and hard copy.
Contract review and signing checklist template
By now, it is clear that during your contract awarding process you need to keep a detailed record of every single change on your initial tender. Like that, you will always be able to check whether the contract submitted by the client reflects what you have already agreed with them.
If you are still in doubt about how you should go about it, feel free to download the following contract review and signing checklist template and come through your contract signing process without any struggle
2. Pre-contract meeting
As soon as the contract has been awarded to your company, it is time for the Managing Director to find the right Project Manager (PM) for the job. One of the first tasks that the newly-appointed Project Manager will have to work on is organising the pre-contract meeting.
The purpose of this meeting is simple. The key stakeholders of the project (i.e. suppliers, architects, subcontractors, etc.) need to come together and coordinate their next steps. The meeting should have a well-defined agenda in advance. In that way, you can make the most out of the meeting without wasting anyone’s time.
In addition, the Project Manager should build a standardised format with regards to how the discussion will develop and the way in which the main points will be documented and shared with the participants at a later stage.
Considering the number of people that will be present in this meeting, it can easily become understandable that a coherent meeting structure is required.
Having a precise record of attendance (also known as register) is a crucial part of this process. It is vital that all participants sign the record of attendance so that everyone accepts responsibility for the final version of the meeting minutes.
In LetsBuild, you can easily keep track of your weekly meeting minutes in a consistent and simple manner. More precisely, you can easily:
- Share the main points of each meeting with the other participants:
- Generate meeting reports with the click of a button:
- Follow up on the status of tasks and issues discussed in previous meetings:
If you want to learn more about how you can use LetsBuild for your weekly meeting minutes, feel free to contact us just by clicking the button below:
Based on the above, it is evident that this meeting should function as your safety net against any type of miscommunication or contractual dispute. That’s why you should use this meeting as an opportunity to explore every aspect of the project and come up with a well-articulated plan not only for the next 2-3 months but for a whole year or if possible even longer.
By actively pushing for a long-term schedule, you can both plan ahead in order to avoid any bottlenecks that might appear and send a message to the rest of the stakeholders that you are committed to kicking off this process on the right foot.
What’s more, your dedication to the projects’ targets and objectives can protect your business in the eyes of your client in case a dispute arises at a later stage. By officially communicating and documenting your concerns or disagreements on time, you can always go back and defend your choices against those of your client.
Meeting agenda template
Before we move on, you can find below a small gift for your Project Manager! Download our meeting agenda template and unlock your contract awarding process:
3. Client onboarding process checklist
There are typically two main areas of responsibility for every client once they come into a contractual agreement with a contractor. First and foremost, they should be able to pay you on time and secondly they should provide you with the site where the project will take place.
With that in mind, having a carefully-elaborated onboarding checklist will ensure that your client will fulfill their commitments according to the schedule. As a contractor, you need to study closely the way your new client has structured their inner systems and processes. Especially when we refer to larger clients (eg. the State) things might take a long time when it comes to payments and any type of administrative tasks.
For that reason, your Project Manager should plan ahead and start this time-consuming process early. More specifically, s/he should make sure that the right material (eg. insurance, health and safety plan, etc.) are submitted on time and to the right person. That is the contract administrator designated by the client.
Your PM should follow up with the contract administrator on a continuous basis in order to secure that everything progresses as it should. After all, the submission of the documentation isn’t over until the contract administrator confirms in writing that the client has received all the documents they need to complete the payment.
At the same time, the Project Manager has also to do some chasing within their own organisation. The Finance Manager should check both the submitted documentation and the payment requirements so that everything looks good and there isn’t anything that could stall the payment.
Best practices for Project Managers
After reading all the above, it is evident that a PM needs to be very gung ho when it comes to preparing the paperwork for the payment. In general, here are the five main principles they should always remember:
- Take initiative when it comes to your communication with the client and find out about their core internal payment processes as early as possible.
- Don’t wait for the client to take the first step because you might get lost in a bureaucracy labyrinth. Ask them if they have certain rules and requirements that you should take into account before requesting your payment.
- Learn if there are any permit requirements from the client in order for them to carry out the payment.
- Don’t forget to involve your finance manager in the process so that any mistakes are detected on time.
- The client must always have chosen a specific point of contact (i.e. contract administrator) so that the coordination about the payment can be done in a well-organised manner.
What to include in your checklist
Putting together a client onboarding process checklist is no child’s play. In an effort to help you navigate through this process in the smartest way possible, we have prepared below a template that you can use to ensure that you will be paid on time:
Wrapping it all up, getting your contract awarding process up to speed takes a lot of effort and a proactive stance. Both your Bid Manager and your Project Manager hold vital roles at this stage of the project and should make sure that they establish a solid communication channel with the people who are designated to represent the client.
Furthermore, everything should be properly documented and a detailed record of action should be kept. Like that, the company is protected and the project can progress according to the plan.
Don’t forget to have a look at the templates we presented above so that you can kickstart this crucial project phase in the right way.