In contracts that organisations sign up with systems integrators, one section that is always important for clients to focus a lot on is the Assumptions and Dependencies section. Usually, the initial draft for this section comes from the Systems Integrator.

What does the “Assumptions and Dependencies” section cover

This section includes what is believed to be important to the delivery of the Programme, but also the factors which could affect its smooth progress. It establishes what the Systems Integrator (SI) won’t do during the course of the project. Usually drafted as short & simple statements, they can cover a heavy chunk of action required of someone, that if not done will affect outcomes. For example, result in delays in the plan of the project, and defer business benefits.

General approaches to this section

In general, systems integrators do not want accountability for these, as these are activities outside their control. On the face of it, this is a reasonable argument. After all, good project principles command that risks should be attributed to the party that is best suited to manage them. Having said that, it is not uncommon for a lot of toing and froing between the SI and the buyer, on what gets included in the section, before contract is inked. SIs usually would suggest a wholesale function – an buyers propose to fine tune it by being very specific as to what the SI won’t do.

The real reason for the A&D Section

The fact that the activities are outside the control of the Systems Integrator does not seem to ring entirely true. We say this, because the purpose of the Systems Integrator contract is for the contractor to take a huge share of the responsibilities on behalf of the client. Generally, the Systems Integrator can take full control with some delegated authority from the client. Therefore, it is possible (at least in theory) to have the SI wholly accountable for the outcomes. However, that would mean that the SI would own several points of failure in the programme. And this likely won’t be compatible with the Commercial policies of the SI.

One thing to watch out for is low bids, where the SI has proposed a low price with a significant A&D component. The SI strategy could be low-ball their bid – and then recover their top-line and bottom line, by reliance on A&D failures on part of the Client. In essence, if the programme ends up being delayed, i.e. they get a longer & a more profitable contract out of it.

Dealing with the A&D Section

If you are managing the Programme on the Buy-Side (i.e. for the client), how do you deal with a long list of Assumptions and Dependencies? We suggest being fully staffed with a high-calibre client-side team – as early as you can afford. Well before the SI is selected. If you hire a group of commercial and techno-functional experts, who will take responsibility for the process before, during and after the Systems Integrator joins the programme, they will have the foresight to be able to understand systems integrators who might be trying to get out of the difficult yet important commitments.

Once the programme is underway, this team will then switch gears into delivering the obligations in the A&D section, and make sure your SI remains honest through the term. At Mindful, we have the expertise and ability to building you a winning team who will be able to help ensure your Programme runs smoothly, without interruptions. If you’d like to find out more, contact us on info@mindfulcontract.co.uk.

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