Nov 14 2013

Half of NEC3 projects use NEC tools all or most of the time

Graham Clarkson of the Clarkson Alliance (in a Construction Manager article) recently highlighted some common misconceptions about managing the NEC form of contract which is favoured by many UK public sector clients (and a growing number in other parts of the world too).

Some people regard the NEC3 as resource-heavy to administer, but the benefits, in our view, more than outweigh the time and costs involved in supporting it; fundamentally, you are able to assess and agree the implications of changes during the project while issues are fresh in people’s minds, rather than engaging in post-completion forensic work to agree a final account. Graham’s article usefully included five tips:

  1. Work with project managers and contractors who have NEC3 knowledge and experience
  2. Don’t revert to JCT practices and behaviours
  3. Make sure the contractor has a planner who can prepare programmes in the detail required by the NEC3
  4. Ensure that those assessing and agreeing compensation events have the authority to do so during the works
  5. Use a document management system which replicates the NEC3 work flow processes

survey-result-contract-formsCONJECT is, of course, one of the two leading (licensed) providers of information management systems to replicate the workflow processes of NEC3, and we talk frequently to our NEC application users about their issues with contract change management. We undertook a small survey of these users recently (also shared with members of the NEC3 Planning and Management group on LinkedIn), and  – as expected – found a high level of NEC contract use. The main challenges in administering NEC3 contracts they perceived were:

  • the resources needed to adequately administer the contract (confirming Graham’s point)
  • familiarity with the contract’s requirements, and
  • management of the different parties involved in a project.

Four out of ten respondents said communication management and adherence to responsibilities were not managed well; only 9% said these duties were managed well. Despite these challenges, a fifth (21%) said they always used an electronic contract change system, and 32% said they used them ‘more often than not’ – in total, therefore, just over half. Some 14% said they never used one, while the remainder were occasional users, mainly out of concern that the system was not under their direct control, sometimes explained as a concern about security or confidentiality. Ignorance of systems’ features or capabilities and the cost of systems were also cited.

NEC-logo-blue-licensedWe believe this shows a need to educate some contract administrators about the capabilities of available applications, about the advantages of working with a NEC licensed content provider, and show a clear cost-benefit analysis. We also think there is a real opportunity for users to improve contract change visibility in their supply chain by using an electronic system.

About the author

Duncan Kneller

Duncan Kneller is director of sales at Conject. He joined the company in 2000 and quickly established himself as a key sales and account manager, before taking on the sales director role in 2011. Duncan has also spearheaded the company's cycling fund-raising events in recent years.

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