If you have the responsibility to manage contracts that someone else negotiated or that were just transferred to you where do you start? My first step would be to do an inventory of the documents to makes sure that I had all contract documents and all documents incorporated by reference into the agreement. If the agreement had been in place I would also make sure that I had all amendments and change orders.
My next step would be to read all those documents and take notes on what I found. In that I would look for the 4W’s and & H (who, what, where, when and how) for all tasks. That way I would clearly understand my and the other parties responsibilities. I would focus on identifying:
1.Any different or unique terms or requirements that are different than standard that people should be aware of and manage to.
2.Potential conflicts between the documents and the precedence between the documents so I understood what is required when reading the contract as a whole.
3.Deliverables, and submission requirements that I must manage our meeting and that the other party must provide so I can manage the delivery.
4.Key milestone dates.
5.Approval requirements and periods.
6.Payment terms and conditions for payments being due and payable.
7.Requirements for submission of proof of insurance and updating certificates.
8.I would look for any legal approval, permits or applications that must be filed so I can track progress.
9.I would identify the performance management tools that were included in the agreement so that I could use and implement those. For example requirements for periodic schedule, work or performance reviews are all tools that a contract manager should know about and use.
10.I would look for how disputes between the parties are to be managed and any agreed escalation processes.
11. I would check for notice requirements for the provision of legal notices if required.
12. I would review the process established for managing changes to the work so I can track the status of changes requested, approved, or denied to implement that process as part of contract management.
13. I would want to understand the potential remedies I have under the agreement and what remedies the other party would have if we failed to meet our obligations. This last step allows you to prioritize the attention you need to pay to specific areas.
Then end point in all this diligence is to have a complete understanding of what you must provide, what the other party must provide and the tools you have to manage that performance.