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​​Managing the contract

Put processes in place to manage contracts, relationships and delivery. Find out how to deal with issues and what to do at the end of a contract.

​​Managing the contract

To keep things running smoothly:

  • agree a set of achievable key performance indicators (KPIs) and provide regular progress reports
  • if there's a transition from a previous service provider, develop a plan that engages them and your buyer to ensure expectations are set and responsibilities assigned
  • set up debrief and review meeting for the first month, and some ongoing regular, formal meetings
  • discuss any challenges with the buyer as they arise.

Relationship management

It’s important to establish and maintain a constructive relationship and regular communication from the start of the contract. Keep up regular, informal communication, as well as pre-arranged, more formal meetings.

Help maintain a strong relationship by:

  • providing positive and constructive feedback
  • listening, identifying and addressing problems promptly, and explaining decisions and actions in an impartial way
  • adopting a structured approach to managing the relationship with your buyer.

Dealing with issues

With good relationship management, you should be able to deal with issues before they become a problem.

  • Agree a process for managing issues with the buyer at the start of the contract.
  • Raise any issues early, and always try to resolve them directly with the buyer if possible.

Managing relationships and conflict

Monitoring and review

Monitor your progress against the contract and your KPIs, and check in regularly with the buyer to ensure they're happy with how things are going.

  • Arrange regular performance review meetings.
  • Work collaboratively with your buyer on future direction and strategy within the contract, eg a meeting every six months that looks at the future as opposed to day-to-day operations.
  • If variations to the contract occur, make them visible and discuss how to handle them.

Reporting

Agree a reporting structure with your buyer which covers:

  • regular (at least monthly) operational review meetings
  • what reporting is required and the content of the reports, eg:
    • exception reports – unexpected events, major variations to KPIs
    • KPI measurement
    • budget considerations
    • project progress reports.

Documentation

Document important decisions like:

  • agreed timelines
  • quality assurance
  • termination procedures
  • scope changes.

Documentation becomes particularly important if there's ever an issue or dispute about what was agreed.

When you're coming to the end of the contract

Talk to the buyer well before the end of the contract about whether it will be renewed, and if it will have to go back through the RFx process.

If:

  • you have to go back through an RFx process, try to get involved (or at least be consulted) on the RFP evaluation criteria and weightings
  • a contract doesn’t need to go to tender but can be rolled over, talk to the buyer about:
    • any learnings from the existing contract
    • whether the new contract might change at all from the current one.

Leveraging your contracts

  • To make the most of your current buyers, document your experience as case studies. You can use these in promotional material and when applying for new tenders.

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