Monday, March 12, 2012

The Mobilization Period

The mobilization period is the time frame between when the contract is signed before actual performance is started. During the mobilization period a number of things can happen that the contract manager needs to manage.

First, you want to identify your counterpart on the other company’s team that you will be dealing with so you can begin communications. You may want to agree upon certain house keeping items such as how you want things to be managed, communication flows, and who will keep and publish meeting minutes. You agree upon when reviews will be held and establish a schedule for reviews once the work commences. As a buyer you may want to explain what is required to the supplier to invoice and get prompt payment.

A second activity that occurs during the mobilization phase that is just another negotiation is the supplier may want to propose certain changes or substitutions. If a specification spelled out a brand name and allowed “or equal” the supplier may identify what they want to use. The contract manager’s responsibility with this activity is to ensure that they get the same value, or they get a credit if what is being proposed is acceptable but costs less. In this activity you would talk with your internal customer or subject matter expert to determine what’s acceptable and what difference there is in value or cost.

A third activity that occurs in the mobilization phase is any place the agreement required advance approval, the supplier may be submitting information for approval. You may have required approval over the team that performs the work or any changes to that team. You may have required approval over the subcontractors or material suppliers that get used. You may have required approval over things like where a site office may be located or where materials may be stored for work performed on site.

A fourth activity in the mobilization phase is to document all that has been agreed, share that with the other party and include that in your contract file. If what you have agreed has no impact on the contract and no impact on the contract price, a simple letter or email can do that. If it has an impact on the contract or the price you save that information and include that in the first amendment you write.

You don’t need to amend the contract every time something happens, you can collect and include multiple things in an amendment. For example, when I managed construction contracts we had change order that were unilateral orders to change the work. I would then periodically write an amendment to include all the change order that had been issued during the period since the last amendment to formally capture them so when you reviewed the amendments you would see everything that had been changed.

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