Tony took me through the Digital Durham contract. It was really something I should have done many years ago. It is almost three years since we signed it yet it seems like five minutes ago.
What I was after was an understanding of the key components of what ended up as a huge document. In fact it was many documents. There are around thirty, made up of a contract document and numerous schedules. There are hundreds of pages and thousands upon thousands of words. Oh dear. It took all of my effort to stay engaged. This is Tony’s forte but not mine.
Still, I stuck with it. We are planning to close the first phase of the programme (before starting the second phase) and it is important that everyone agrees what there is still left to do. It is easy to forget, in such a large scheme as this one, what it was that you set out to achieve. Life gets in the way and has a nasty habit of knocking you off track. Looking back though it is funny to see some of the assumptions that we made, some of the things that we thought were important yet have turned to be mere bit parts.
In the end I added notes to half a dozen documents. I have kept these in a separate folder just in case. The main documents are kept on SharePoint. In the end, what I need to know boils down to a few pithy questions: What is it that we have agreed to deliver? Who much will this cost? How will we pay for the services? How will we know that what we asked for has actually been delivered? What will determine how much of our money we will get back (from gain share or claw-back)? What happens if it all goes wrong?
With a bit of foresight we could have come up with these questions right at the start and saved ourselves thousands of hours poring over documents and, presumably thousands of pounds in legal fees. Then again perhaps I am being naïve and need to play the game.
Today, both parties to the contract are meeting. We are going through the snagging list of outstanding actions. At least I am now certain of what the contract says.