managing subcontractors nuggets fromthe information badger

‘The path is smooth that leadeth on to danger’ – William Shakespeare

  • The principles of the nuggets provided under CONTRACT apply equally to subcontractors.
  • Always conduct a formal financial and technical due diligence on a subcontractor as a pre-requisite to establishing any formal teaming arrangement or subcontract.
  • Always have a written and signed subcontract; ensure it has clear scope with flow down of risk and terms that is both sensible and realistically commensurate with the subcontractor’s ability to manage that risk and deliver.
  • Ensure that scope and timeliness of any subcontracted supply dovetails with the  your own activity plans and your obligations to your client.
  • Ensure you and your subcontractor have approved points of contact and make someone in delivery team responsible for operationally managing subcontractor performance.
  • Require your subcontractor to produce Project and Quality Plans and regular formal progress reports; always have audit and step-in rights in the subcontract.
  • Perform regular quality audits on your subcontractor; they will complain but the attention will keep them on their toes and help early identification of issues.
  • Actively programme manage and engage with your subcontractor; never assume they will deliver left to their own devices.  
  • If the subcontractor has dependencies on you to deliver their obligations then ensure you focus on delivering those dependencies fully and on time; if you don’t then expect your subcontractor to present a claim for delay.
  • Expect a subcontractor to fail to deliver on time and have contingency measures built into plans for this eventuality.
  • Beware small subcontractors with limited staff, specialist skills and niche products/technologies in high demand – have a realistic fall back plan to mitigate the risk of their non-delivery or failure of their business.
  • Regardless of remedies in a subcontract, if your subcontractor has a problem then it’s your problem too – your client will look to you to resolve the difficulties.