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Topics: Agile, Leadership, Organizational Project Management
Knowledge of the contracts in the project.
How much influence does the project manager not know the contract?
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I have been thinking on this a bit. As a PM for a government agency I have run across a reluctance by senior management to provide full access. Any time I accepted that condition the project suffered significantly. Contract related risks where not identified thus not mitigated with a resulting significant adverse impact.

A true PM needs to have access to everything that impacts the project. Additionally the PM decides what could have an impact on the project. Some may argue there are confidentiality and/or security issues but the PM should have the highest clearance of the team thus have access to everything. This does not mean the PM has authority over all things project related but he has a "need-to-know".

Some may say that senior management has a right to accept that risk but as PM I would hesitate to accept the risk to my reputation and future by failing to deliver due to lack of available information.

The question that needs to be asked is: "Why would project related contract information be withheld from a PM?".
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1 reply by Keith Novak
Dec 22, 2021 10:49 AM
Keith Novak
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There may be a significant difference between full access to a contract, and access to the relevant project related information.

Take the example of major suppliers to a large manufacturer like Airbus. They may be multi-year agreements covering many hardware and software items across multiple airplane programs, and many projects/PMs. They may cover information about future projects not publicly disclosed, 3rd party agreements, and require new unique NDAs. Project specific information may be attached documents or side letters.

Access to the contracts system itself may require approval at a senior executive level due to organization structure and sensitivity. Multiple parties on both sides of the contract may have issues with dozens of additional people granted full access to large amounts of highly limited information, when most of it is need-to-know to someone, but not to the PM.
Dec 21, 2021 6:02 PM
Replying to Peter Rapin
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I have been thinking on this a bit. As a PM for a government agency I have run across a reluctance by senior management to provide full access. Any time I accepted that condition the project suffered significantly. Contract related risks where not identified thus not mitigated with a resulting significant adverse impact.

A true PM needs to have access to everything that impacts the project. Additionally the PM decides what could have an impact on the project. Some may argue there are confidentiality and/or security issues but the PM should have the highest clearance of the team thus have access to everything. This does not mean the PM has authority over all things project related but he has a "need-to-know".

Some may say that senior management has a right to accept that risk but as PM I would hesitate to accept the risk to my reputation and future by failing to deliver due to lack of available information.

The question that needs to be asked is: "Why would project related contract information be withheld from a PM?".
There may be a significant difference between full access to a contract, and access to the relevant project related information.

Take the example of major suppliers to a large manufacturer like Airbus. They may be multi-year agreements covering many hardware and software items across multiple airplane programs, and many projects/PMs. They may cover information about future projects not publicly disclosed, 3rd party agreements, and require new unique NDAs. Project specific information may be attached documents or side letters.

Access to the contracts system itself may require approval at a senior executive level due to organization structure and sensitivity. Multiple parties on both sides of the contract may have issues with dozens of additional people granted full access to large amounts of highly limited information, when most of it is need-to-know to someone, but not to the PM.
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1 reply by Peter Rapin
Dec 22, 2021 3:19 PM
Peter Rapin
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Point taken - I wasn't thinking big picture enough.

Although I find that even these 'high-level' agreements can have unrecognized influence on the project. The key is to make sure the project team has all the "necessary" information to successfully deliver the project. A risk assessment session with the contract people may be advisable.

Thanks for broadening my perception.
Dec 22, 2021 10:49 AM
Replying to Keith Novak
...
There may be a significant difference between full access to a contract, and access to the relevant project related information.

Take the example of major suppliers to a large manufacturer like Airbus. They may be multi-year agreements covering many hardware and software items across multiple airplane programs, and many projects/PMs. They may cover information about future projects not publicly disclosed, 3rd party agreements, and require new unique NDAs. Project specific information may be attached documents or side letters.

Access to the contracts system itself may require approval at a senior executive level due to organization structure and sensitivity. Multiple parties on both sides of the contract may have issues with dozens of additional people granted full access to large amounts of highly limited information, when most of it is need-to-know to someone, but not to the PM.
Point taken - I wasn't thinking big picture enough.

Although I find that even these 'high-level' agreements can have unrecognized influence on the project. The key is to make sure the project team has all the "necessary" information to successfully deliver the project. A risk assessment session with the contract people may be advisable.

Thanks for broadening my perception.
I am actually frustrated when I see this long thread on this subject.
Looking at management’s view, giving a PM the task to successfully execute a project, at the same time holding back crucial information for doing so, in my book is fossilized thinking.
These days, almost without exception, the PM’s that I see (and hire) are smart, street smart (not necessarily the same), and much more professional than I saw years ago. They should stand up and explain that you cannot have one without the other.
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1 reply by Keith Novak
Dec 27, 2021 9:01 PM
Keith Novak
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While it can be very frustrating, sometimes it is just the cost of doing business.

When there is a lot of information that is financially sensitive, legally restricted, or covered under confidentiality agreements, internal processes often default to "NO unless otherwise approved." That goes way over the heads of any senior manager.

It's not a trust issue; it's simply risk management. It's not anyone trying to keep critical information from the PM. Sometimes the wrong stuff gets filtered out, or put in part of a database the PM can't access.

A lot of businesses don't even want to deal with that hassle. The ones that do, have to put up a lot of barriers, and charge more for the frustration it causes to get the work done.
Dec 22, 2021 8:24 PM
Replying to Roland Vander Straeten
...
I am actually frustrated when I see this long thread on this subject.
Looking at management’s view, giving a PM the task to successfully execute a project, at the same time holding back crucial information for doing so, in my book is fossilized thinking.
These days, almost without exception, the PM’s that I see (and hire) are smart, street smart (not necessarily the same), and much more professional than I saw years ago. They should stand up and explain that you cannot have one without the other.
While it can be very frustrating, sometimes it is just the cost of doing business.

When there is a lot of information that is financially sensitive, legally restricted, or covered under confidentiality agreements, internal processes often default to "NO unless otherwise approved." That goes way over the heads of any senior manager.

It's not a trust issue; it's simply risk management. It's not anyone trying to keep critical information from the PM. Sometimes the wrong stuff gets filtered out, or put in part of a database the PM can't access.

A lot of businesses don't even want to deal with that hassle. The ones that do, have to put up a lot of barriers, and charge more for the frustration it causes to get the work done.
Normally in each organization their is a Contract department for reviewing contracts; But PM needs the minimum knowledge:
1- Payment Terms
2-Invoicing Milestone
3-LD
4-Bank Guarantees
5-Warranty Period
6-Scope of Work
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