With school budgets tight, we'd like to show schools how better contract management can help you achieve better value, higher levels of service, and access to new products, without costing you a penny more.
What is contract management?
“The processes and procedures we follow after the award of contract, which allow us to get the best value for our school.”
What processes and procedures does your school follow after the award of contracts?
Well, in many schools (and other organisations!), historically it’s been like this:
How we used to look at contract management
- Work hard to get the best deal for our school
- Award the contract
- File it away
- If you don’t have to look at the contract til renewal time, congratulate yourself on a good contract.
- Rinse and repeat!
In the past:
- Time, effort, expertise and resources went into evaluating suppliers and negotiating the contract.
- Support from the LA in the form of approved lists, legal advice, etc was assumed.
- Contract management became an issue only when:
- The supplier went out of business
- There was a major breach of contract
- Hurdles were set low: the aim was to avoid disputes, avoid rollovers, and minimise work for (very busy!) school staff
What are the benefits to our school of active contract management?
We’d like to encourage you to look at a more active form of contract management. This has the following advantages:
- Suppliers deliver over and above what they are contractually obliged to:
- New products are made available
- Cost savings are passed on (ie your supplier gets a discount from his supplier and you benefit)
- More flexible service
- Innovation (as your supplier is constantly getting new business, he is developing new capabilities, which he can deliver for you)
- Stakeholders are happy
- Teaching and learning is optimised
- Governors and heads have the information they need
- There are no complaints from parents (school meals!)
- There are no complaints from teachers (MFDs!)
- School achieves best value
- Disputes are avoided or minimised
- Time is saved
- Grey hairs avoided!
- Risk is minimised
- Poor performance is identified early before a problem occurs
- A better / more accurate spec is drawn up at contract end…so your next contract is better and you’re negotiating on the clauses that really matter
- There’s an effective handover to the next supplier
Deciding which contracts to manage actively Schools will manage an average of 50 contracts. We would suggest, for the best efficiency, that you choose 2-3 contracts to manage more actively, based on the following criteria:
- Value (what are the costliest contracts)
- Risk (which contracts depend on key personnel who may leave, contracts where continuity of service)
Contract Management Top Tips
- Know what your contract says; know what it means
- Schedule, prepare for, conduct and document service level agreement review meetings.
- Every rollover is a wasted opportunity to improve service, innovate or cut costs
- Provide mechanisms for internal consultation, feedback and reporting
- Seek out mutual opportunities for growth / improvement / innovation
- Talk to other schools. Benchmark, network, share information
- Remember you’re not managing a contract (a piece of paper), you’re managing a relationship / multiple relationships
- Remember the purpose of every contract you have is…to support teaching and learning
What paperwork / documentation may you need to support contract management? Having access to key documents and data is essential if you are to manage contracts well. You should bring together the following documents and data.
- The contract
- Notes from SLA review meetings
- Photographs (eg grounds maintenance)
- Comments from inspections / audits
- Internal customer comments / feedback forms
- All substantive communications with the contractor
- Evidence of insurance, indemnities, deeds or licenses
- Records of payments
- Key contact details
- Delivery notes
- Risk assessments
In the event of a dispute, a complaint, a break in service or a change in personnel, access to key evidence quickly is going to strengthen your hand and enable swift resolution. Don’t let your suppliers gain the upper hand purely by virtue of their record-keeping! Obviously Every users have our system to store unlimited documents, correspondence etc, and can access key data remotely. Our contract management system is designed to prompt, guide and automate many of the processes covered in this guide.
Or, if you’d like trial access to our contract management tools for schools, click the link below: