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GovCon Expert Mick Fox Offers 8 Essential Metrics for Contract Managers to Help Ensure a ‘Safe Flight & Smooth Landing’

By Mick Fox

Chief Operating Officer, TechnoMile

I began my career by serving in the U.S. Air Force and this cultivated what has become a lifelong passion for aviation. I love to fly and enjoy time up in a Cirrus SR22 as often as possible. My fellow aviators know that the flight instruments in the cockpit (i.e., your plane’s “dashboard”) are vital to safe flight, providing the pilot with crucial data about the aircraft’s heading, attitude, altitude, airspeed, vertical speed and more. There is a saying that without this dashboard, pilots can only survive for less than a minute in the clouds. I am finding this imperative for metrics to be the case for almost any management position, especially those responsible for contracts.

While I was cutting my teeth at Lockheed Martin, there was a saying that “only that which gets measured gets managed.” What this meant—which has proven to be true, by the way—is that if you really care about something, you measure it, you monitor it, you report on it and you manage it. If you don’t, that process and its outputs become an afterthought and aren’t taken as seriously by you or your team.

Modern software solutions typically offer dashboard reporting, which consolidates crucial metrics onto a single screen—often using data visualizations like charts and graphs—so the user can see essential information about their business at a glance. The best dashboards are role-based, meaning the metrics and reports that are included are tailored to an individual user’s role within the organization and their corresponding information priorities.

Over the past few years, I’ve had a firsthand view of the dashboard reporting used by some of the world’s largest aerospace and defense organizations and up-and-coming GovCons as we’ve guided them in leveraging TechnoMile’s cloud platform for managing the government contracting lifecycle from opportunity identification through contract closeout. One key professional our technology serves within these organizations is the contract manager, who relies on our platform’s contract lifecycle management capabilities.

Tasked with coordinating and ensuring compliance of contract requirements and changes to programs, as well as providing guidance and advice regarding contractual risks and obligations, for contract managers in the complex federal marketplace, it’s a real juggling act. Each contract manager needs to determine what’s important, what should get measured and what should be on their dashboard. Dashboard reporting can help by surfacing critical areas where you need to take action or your organization is put at risk. Below are eight reports we’ve found to be the most common—and in the majority of cases, the most critical—that you’ll want to consider including on your CLM dashboard to make life easier as a contract manager:

  1. Opportunities with Pending OCI Reviews – Best-in-class CLM tech that’s designed for federal contractors will include workflow to automate the organizational conflict of interest review and approval process and track adjudications and any mitigation plans in the context of an opportunity, which can then be converted into a contract record upon award (including all OCI history). As contract managers shepherd opportunities through often complex OCI reviews by multiple stakeholders, an Opportunities with Pending OCI Reviews report delivers easy visibility into how a review process is progressing for an opportunity and where it may be “stuck.”
  2. Agreements in Process – Partner planning and the establishment of agreements such as nondisclosure agreements, partnership intermediary agreements, teaming agreements and subcontractor contracts are also key activities for contract managers. With an Agreements in Process report, you’ll immediately know the status of each agreement you’re drafting or negotiating, who it’s currently with, and how long it’s been there. This equips you to set expectations and respond to internal inquiries, plus understand who may need a nudge to move the agreement forward. In addition, tying this together with both your system responsible for growth and your CLM system, you get a holistic view of who you’re working with on each customer, and pivoted, who your critical partners are, which helps prioritize all these agreements.    
  3. Contracts Pending Stakeholder Action – Workflow automation is a key benefit of a CLM solution, giving you the ability to digitally route contracts and track their progress. Need a contract reviewed by your cybersecurity team? Want to include project accounting in your contract set-up process? Need to document leadership approval before operationalizing a new contract or modification? Apply CLM automation to all these types of workflows and use a Contracts Pending Stakeholder Action report for easy insight into which contracts are out for review/approval, how long they’ve been pending, who may need follow up and which business partners are most responsive.
  4. Contracts with Open Mods – The Contracts with Open Mods report answers the question, “Where is there troubleshooting needed on my part in order to activate a mod?” Is there new funding to a CLIN to be added? Is there a new clause to send for Legal review? Is there a funding issue that needs to be socialized internally? This report helps Contract Managers more effectively keep on top of contract changes and manage and communicate any associated risks.   
  5. Contracts at/Approaching LoF Threshold – Monitoring contract actuals and ensuring timely Limitation of Funds notifications are often cited as top compliance headaches for contract managers. A modern CLM will integrate with your enterprise resource planning system and anticipate the need for LoF action based on a contract’s current billing pace. A Contracts at/Approaching LoF Threshold report highlights contracts that have recently reached their threshold — a checkpoint for asking yourself “did I miss sending out a letter?” — as well as contracts that will likely require LoF action in the next two weeks if the current pace continues, ensuring these to-do’s are on your radar.
  6. Contracts below Small Business Plan Goal – Another area of compliance that can be challenging for contract managers to stay on top of is small business commitments. A Contracts below Small Business Plan Goal report highlights exactly where there’s risk of non-compliance so that proactive action can quickly be taken to modify your company’s subcontracting strategy. A best-in-class CLM allows you to create small business plans for a contract and then track your commitments at the subcontract level, bringing ease to monitoring achievement of socioeconomic goals and producing the required reporting.
  7. Contracts Ending – A Contracts Ending report that can be filtered based on Period End Date or Option Years End Date puts information at your fingertips to answer data calls about anticipated revenue impacts, forthcoming recompete opportunities, contracts where option years have yet to be exercised, contracts with unfunded obligations, contracts that will be entering closeout and more.
  8. Contracts with Closeout Tasks in Progress – A best-in-class CLM will allow your organization to initiate and manage the contract closeout process digitally, including the ability to import closeout checklists, assign closeout tasks and deadlines, and capture an audit trail of completion. Armed with a Contracts with Closeout Tasks in Progress report, contract managers have a clear line of sight into which contracts are in the closeout stage, how active closeouts are progressing, where deadlines may be at risk and who’s responsible. This allows for more proactive management to ensure compliance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation and any agency-specific requirements and timeframes.

Whether flying planes or managing federal contracts, a dashboard and its underlying reports are essential tools, putting metrics at your fingertips that provide insight into the next steps you need to take and emerging risks that require mitigation efforts. For Contract Managers, this type of role-based CLM dashboard equips you to ensure both a “safe flight and a smooth landing” as you manage the lifecycle of your organization’s federal contracts. Measure what you want to manage and have a safe flight.

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