The Project Manager’s NEC3 Legal Toolkit

It’s tough out there being a Project Manager, isn’t it?

A day in the life

Sarah Shutte 3Picture this: you are engaged on a project and you are told you are an essential part of its successful delivery, but not a day goes by without a communication or 10 crossing your desk, notifying you of some anticipated risk event or updating you for the umpteenth time on one you already know about, but haven’t had time to assess yet. Some of the notices appear very petty, which makes you cross, but also nervous. You know you need to be looking in 3 directions, controlling what’s happening right now, containing what has happened and anticipating what’s likely to happen: what a headache!

On top of this, you have to assess the programme, manage risk and act as a go-between for the parties. How are you going to assess the programme, and on what do you (should you) base your assessment? What should you do about notified or suspected risks? How can you encourage the parties to collaborate when they are fighting like cats in a sack?

You’re coming under pressure from all sides. Of course you are: the project is based on an NEC3 contract!

You are not alone: it’s difficult!

A lot has been written about the theory of NEC3, and its contracts are used on high-profile public projects with an eye-watering number of zeros. But research repeatedly tells us that NEC3 disputes are linked to failures to understand and read the contract properly, and to manage it well.

The all-round entertainer

As an NEC3 PM, you are all-singing and all-dancing. You’re expected to live and breathe the project, bring “added-value” to the client, and deliver “best value” to the public purse. Your own organization expects you to make a profit. Sometimes you feel like you’re in a circus, spinning plates! The responsibilities to shaking hands on a NEC3 contract are broad and deep, and are fiendishly difficult to discharge properly.

Differentiate yourself: you’re worth it

NEC3 is like no other contract currently on the market at the same level of popularity. You can’t ignore it, and only a fool would, given that c. 40% of the annual industry spend emanates from the public purse. Its use in increasing, and with it comes a demand for competent and experienced PMs. This environment makes NEC3 PM skills extremely valuable. So it is worthwhile taking the time to invest in dedicated NEC3 training for yourself, in upping your skill-set to enable you meet the challenges illustrated. You need to know how the contract works, and the legal mechanisms available in order to demonstrably go from being a “good” NEC3 PM to a “great” one.

Build your own legal toolkit

NEC3 Tool kit

Against the backdrop of current market conditions, and the practical reality described above, I have created a half day workshop for APM eVa21 centred around the PM’s role in the NEC3 form of contract and this year’s theme of “Bringing Projects to Life”.

Come along and join me on Wednesday 22 June (morning) to explore the fundamental legal principles associated with the NEC3’s core PM functions of planning and programming, collaboration and change management. We will dissect the issues, which cause you pain, exchange best practice techniques and debate real-life case studies. You will gain confidence to better manage yourselves, and your projects, clients and stakeholders through understanding your duties, and how to play an active, competent part in avoiding and resolving disputes.

I will bring my decade of practical industry experience and in-depth legal knowledge, and will help you to create and takeaway your own NEC3 legal toolkit.

Sarah Schutte

Sarah SchutteSarah has over 15 years’ experience as a construction and engineering solicitor, including almost 10 years in industry. She works with a wide variety of industry clients, law firms, seminar organisers and educational establishments to support their projects, disputes, corporate and project risk management and insurance strategies and training programmes.

Sarah advocates confident and competent contract and commercial management, and focuses on putting law in its practical and purposive context so as to equip clients and training delegates with accurate knowledge and essential skills.

Shutte Consulting LimitedSarah is a regular conference speaker and contributor via social media, and writes a monthly “Industry Insight” column for LexisPSL. She is particularly interested in psychology, and how project outcomes are affected by behaviour and culture.