Two UK-based SaaS collaboration vendors have been officially licensed by NEC to deliver NEC3 construction contract information.
By coincidence on the same day that I wrote about contrasting approaches to NEC construction contract management (post), it has been announced that two UK construction collaboration technology providers have been appointed as NEC3 Licensed Content Partners by NEC (see NEC news release). Officially endorsed by UK government for its more collaborative approach, the NEC3 is increasingly widely used on both public and private sector projects, and 4Projects and BIW Technologies will now both be seeking to capitalise upon their ability to deliver NEC content through their respective Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) contract administration solutions.
The NEC, originally the New Engineering Contract, was developed during the early 1990s and earned the approval of Sir Michael Latham (author of the influential 1994 Latham Report) as a more enlightened, non-adversarial alternative to conventional construction contracts. The second edition, NEC2, was published in 1995 and the latest generation of contracts, the NEC3 suite, was developed as a result of feedback from numerous industry users keen on promoting more collaborative approaches to projects across the whole supply chain. This family of standard contracts share key characteristics:
- they stimulate good management of the relationship between the two parties to the contract and, hence, of the work included in the contract
- they can be used in a variety of commercial situations, for a wide variety of types of work and in any location, and
- they are clear and simple documents using language and structures which are straightforward and easily understood.
The contracts are important in the UK, not least because the NEC3 has been endorsed by the Office of Government Commerce, which recommends NEC3 for use on all public sector construction projects (the NEC is also one of the officially forms of contract recommended by the South African government). Its growing use also coincided with the emergence of web-based collaboration platforms and it was perhaps inevitable, as vendors sought to differentiate their platforms and expand functionality beyond SaaS document collaboration, that contract management would become a feature.
BIW NEC3 Contracts Management
BIW was the first of the construction collaboration technology vendors to develop a NEC-based solution that could be delivered through its core platform – immediately competing with solutions such as MPS‘s CCM which only managed contract-related workflows, not wider information. BIW’s pre-configured contract packs were initially launched in 2005 (release), but the NEC support was continuously improved through use by leading adherents such as Davis Langdon (see Triangle case study [PDF]).
In the NEC news release, BIW CEO Colin Smith says:
“A number of years ago we identified a requirement to provide a robust application designed specifically to help companies effectively implement the NEC3 contract. We have had great success with the initiative and have deployed our NEC3 Contract Management application on projects for over 50 clients. … We are obviously delighted to have been selected as one of NEC’s preferred licence content partners. The enhancements we will roll out as a result of the partnership will greatly benefit current and future clients.”
4Projects NEC3 Manager
Fast closing on BIW’s position as UK market leader (by turnover), 4Projects hinted at the imminent launch of their new contract management feature at a London event in late October (post), but it has taken another six weeks before the company could officially announce the key detail (quickly trumpeted in a news release, via Twitter, and via new website home page graphics and other collateral): an official partnership with NEC that allows them to deliver “NEC3 Manager”. According to the company, NEC3 Manager is completely integrated with its existing collaboration platform, and will facilitate the swift and simple creation and management of NEC3 contracts, automating the issue, storage, tracking and searching of key contracts forms and tasks including instructions, Early Warning notices and Compensation Events.
In the NEC news release, Richard Vertigan, 4Projects’ CEO comments:
“Having worked closely with the construction industry for the last 22 years I have seen the problems that can arise from contracts being disputed and ultimately unfulfilled. … Although clients have used our management process in conjunction with NEC contracts for many years, we have now developed a tool that allows users to deploy, monitor and control contracts in a more efficient and effective way.”
In the 4Projects release, he adds:
“NEC has done a fantastic job of standardising construction contracts on the basis of quality, performance, cost and time to ensure a fair deal for all. To be licensed to use NEC3 content is a fantastic achievement and my congratulations go to all involved at 4Projects.”