Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.



Published on

Published in: Technology, Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this


  1. 1. The Art of Contract Technical Monitoring PM Challenge 2011 Managing Contracts Track February 10, 2011 Lori Crocker, NASA JSC/EVA Office
  2. 2. Contract Technical Monitoring is an Art?If you subscribe to the notion that anything that is not a science isan art… then technical monitoring is definitely an art. Leadership Diplomacy Persuasion Teamwork Communication Empathy 2
  3. 3. How Do We Learn Contract Technical Monitoring?The FAR and NASA FAR supplement addresses the role of theCOTR, and high level duties of the COTR, but not HOW to docontract technical monitoring That leaves HOW to do it up to the discretion and experience of the individualThey don’t teach it in Engineering school…We do get COTR training, which scares you to death, followedby… Watching others do it (best case) Trial and error (typical case)Engineers are not always great at things that aren’t so black andwhite 3
  4. 4. And You Can Tell Me How to Do This Because…?“Lori, what makes you particularly qualified to tell a new contracttechnical monitor how to perform your duties?” Technical monitor experience on 3 different contracts Experience as both a contractor and a federal employee But mostly, because I have done it the WRONG way (and paid the price for that misstep), as well as the RIGHT way (and enjoyed the success of that method ) …and I am willing to tell you about it! NOT 4
  5. 5. First, for the Technical Monitors Among Us
  6. 6. Step 1: Develop TrustTrust requires a relationship Show by your actions that you have the best interest of the WORK at heart Show by your actions that you do not feel your job is to skewer your contractor every chance you get It is OK to be tough, as long as you are also FAIRTrust requires that you know how the contractor does their work You have little to offer until you have a thorough knowledge of the contract SOW and how the contractor meets that SOW, so DO YOUR HOMEWORK!Trust is a two-way street; once you have established the previoustwo requirements, you must INSIST that the contractor’smanagement does not “filter” the message you receive from them Clearly communicate this requirement with all contractor management, especially if you can tell this is not their SOP! Make sure you get a commitment from contractor management that they intend to meet your requirement! 6
  7. 7. A Word of Warning…You must be in a position to KNOW if information is beingfiltered from you… so get out there and see the work! 7
  8. 8. Step 2: Don’t Just Find Problems, Help Fix ThemAs you learn and monitor this technical work, guess what? Youwill see problems and issues. That doesn’t mean you need to take some kind of sick joy in finding issues. That doesn’t mean this contractor can’t do anything right. If you act like this, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecyYour job is not just to find problems – your job is to help fixproblems by contributing to solutions. It is best to guide the contractor to a good solution, rather than dictating it. Contractor personnel know their processes and procedures best Explain at a high level what you are after, and ask the contractor to tell you the best way to achieve what you are after Always be the dumbest person in the room – ask questions until there are no questions left to ask Contract monitoring is no place for someone uncomfortable with not knowing more than everyone else Ask how you can help, and follow through on what you are told. 8
  9. 9. Step 3: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!You have to be able to tell your contractor what they are doingwrong, however… How you say it does matter! (i.e. don’t be a jerk!) “The Jerk: You have great skin. Are you a model? Lady: No. Im a Cosmetologist. The Jerk: A Cosmetologist? Really? Wow. Must be tough to handle the weightlessness.” from The Jerk (1979) Your motivation for saying it matters! To help performance improve = good To find something wrong because you can = not good If you don’t have the right motivation for telling your contractor what they are doing wrong… “Be a Technical Monitor that gets the reasons, not the excuses.”Don’t forget to tell your contractor what they are doing right! 9
  10. 10. A Word About Award FeeContractors are in business to make a profitUnderstand that award fee impacts the contractor’s profit andbottom lineIf Award Fee becomes adversarial, the results can be disastrousfor NASA. If you attack your contractor on Award fee, or they live in fear that you are going to, they may go into protect mode Instead of finding out where problems are, your contractor may try to filter those problems from youDoes that mean you shouldn’t point out weaknesses for AwardFee or give a contractor a less than perfect score? Of course not!So what does it mean?... 10
  11. 11. More About Award FeeDon’t make Award Fee into an adversarial process Utilize Steps 1-3 year-round, including Award Fee time Award Fee write-ups should never, never, ever be the first time a contractor has heard from you about an issue Be fair; remember that being tough is ok as long as you are also fair No contractor will like getting dinged on Award Fee, but if it is fair, they will accept it as part of doing business with the government Realize that if our contractors fail, NASA fails Make sure you communicate to our contractors how much you understand that if they fail, we fail Again, make Award Fee results about fixing the problems, not about finding them 11
  12. 12. Now, for Those of Us Who are Contractors
  13. 13. My NASA Monitor Doesn’t Know All This… What should I do???Anonymously send them the link to this pitch on the PMChallenge website? 13
  14. 14. My NASA Monitor Doesn’t Know All This…Try doing your part on Steps 1-3 Do your part to build a relationship – invite them over to see the work you do and witness first hand that you know what you are doing Don’t filter information, even if it gets used against you Do speak up if it does get used against you in an unfair manner, and let your technical monitor know what they did is very non- motivational Do tell your TM if you think they are being unfair and question their motives for being that way Ask for their high level desires for problem areas Tell them your potential solutions for these problem areas Encourage their questions and ask for their help Give reasons, not excuses Ask for your TM’s feedback and take it without becoming defensive 14
  15. 15. My NASA Monitor Doesn’t Know All This…Other avenues?If all else fails, do speak up to your contractspersonnel so they can discuss it with the NASA COand COTR 15
  17. 17. Let’s Talk Some ExamplesContractor A provides hardware for NASA’s new game-changing,long-duration space travel primate testing. NOTE: NO HARMCOMES TO THE PRIMATES DURING THIS TESTING. Several testshave been cancelled due to hardware anomalies on Contractor A’saccountable hardware. You are the NASA Technical Monitor for thework Contractor A performs. What do you do about these issues?A. Award Fee write-ups are due soon. Write a weakness on Contractor A for these issues in hopes that you will get their management’s attention to resolve the problems.B. Work with Contractor A to determine the causes of the issues. Help them resolve the issues. Since you are able to help them resolve the issues, you really don’t need to mention it in Award Fee or impact their score. Why tick them off?C. Work with Contractor A to determine the causes of the issues. Help them resolve the issues. Keep the lines of communication open and make sure you are working as a team. Include the issues that were performance weaknesses in the Award Fee write-up. Also mention positive work and strengths that you have seen from Contractor A during the issue resolution process in the Award Fee write-up. 17
  18. 18. Let’s Talk Some ExamplesYou are a Technical Monitor for Contractor B, who is designing theEVA Nose-Scratcher. In the time you have been the TechnicalMonitor for this contract, Contractor B has been late on several majorproject milestones. Each time you ask for information fromContractor B about why they missed a milestone, you get what feelslike a sales pitch about how great they are and why even though theymissed the milestone, they really didn’t miss the milestone. Whatshould you do? A. Wait until Award Fee, then cut them off at the knees. This is ridiculous! B. Don’t do anything. These jokers obviously have pictures of some high ranking official, otherwise they would be out of business. C. Build some two-way trust. Take their manager to lunch (YES, THIS IS ALLOWED BY NASA ETHICS RULES!). Talk very frankly with this manager about the impact of their missed milestones on the space program. Tell the manager you are willing to work with them to fix the delivery issues they are having, and that you are willing to do everything in your power to make this process successful, but that you will no longer tolerate the lack of information being provided to you. 18
  19. 19. Let’s Talk Some ExamplesYou are the manager of ACME Logistics Integration, Inc. You have acontract with NASA to provide integration and logistics support for allping pong and foosball equipment that is manifested on flights to ISS.You have developed a set of metrics as part of your contract that isintended to give your NASA technical monitor a view of your work.You receive your first award fee write up, and NASA has given you aweakness for poor metrics, even though you submit these metricsmonthly and no one has ever asked you to make any changes. Whatdo you do? A. You tell your technical monitor you are sorry, and will try to do better. The customer is always right, aren’t they? B. You call the technical monitor and give him a piece of your mind. Who does he think he is? C. You meet with your technical monitor, and partner a new set of metrics that makes sense to both of you. You also ask him to provide more regular feedback and not wait until award fee to mention a potential issue. He agrees, and you all work together happily ever after. 19