Avoiding Contract Disputes – A Question of Culture
Leopards, as they say, don’t change their spots. If you want an indication of whether a potential framework partner will identify and resolve potential issues quickly – without leading you into contractual disputes – their track record may be a good place to start.
Whatever the tender submission might say, it is largely the culture of an organisation that matters. This determines whether they are a pleasure to work with or whether you’re likely to end up with the following familiar frustrations:
- Overstated and spurious claims for additional monies
- Additional costs delivered as surprises
- Completion of final account taking up a high level of your own resources
- Final accounts not concluded for significant periods after completion
- Unnecessary provision of funds for liabilities/claims risking commencement of other projects
- Protracted discussions and poor relationships with stakeholders
A framework partner with a culture that genuinely places a high priority on early identification and mitigation of potential issues is one that can point to a record of dispute-free project delivery. This will be an organisation that empowers teams to resolve issues and provides strong, collaborative leadership.
Structure and process clearly matter. It’s easy to say that potential issues will be resolved quickly; but what leadership structures, training, risk management and communication systems will deliver the reality?
Behind the ‘words’ you also need to see the actions. Whatever structures and processes potential suppliers claim to use, look for evidence of how they work in practice. How have these processes been applied to bring real projects in below budget, ahead of time and without significant issues?
Above all, it’s the attitude and behaviours that people bring to their everyday work that governs the experience you are likely to have. A record of problem-free project delivery is probably the best indication you can have of a collaborative, problem solving culture, and that the relationship will be a happy one.
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