This is the first of what we will become a regular monthly feature : an interview with well-known and respected NEC3 practitioners. To kick it off, we are interviewing Chris Corr, founder of Built Intelligence. Chris is a quantity surveyor by background and, until recently, was Magnox’s NEC3 champion.
How would others describe in 10 words ?
NEC3 Geek; NEC3 trouble-shooter; ‘Pain in the arse’ at times for people who don't take NEC3 seriously!
And what about personally outside of work ?
Surfer, cyclist, out-doory sort of person as well as a father and husband.
How did you first get involved in NEC3 ?
The company I was working for at the time won their first NEC3 contract, whereupon I was pushed into a room and introduced as “here is our NEC3 expert”. It was a NHS Procure 21 contract about 15 years ago.
What do you love – or really like – about NEC Contract?
I like that it’s quirky and turned things on it’s head : it’s a project management manual and a contract combined, so look’s at the bigger picture. It’s a marmite contract : you either love it or hate it. It tends to divide people and requires a bit of buy-in to get the value out of it, so you have project teams that either want to work with it or fight it.
What would you improve about it in NEC4 ?
I think there are lots of little bits of pieces that cause users, especially novice ones, problems on a day-to-day basis. I don’t think I would change much about it though, it’s more about changing how people use it than changing the contract conditions.
For instance, the Schedule of Cost Components causes problems, but I'm not sure that changing it will fix the problems that user’s have with demonstrating open book costs.
If there was one bit of advice that you could give to an NEC3 newbie, what would that advice be ?
It is not just another contract. Most basic mistakes I see are because people haven’t read the contract and, because it is a novel contract with project management obligations, I think if you just assume it is like other contracts you will get your fingers burned. So my advice is do the basic thing that any good commercial person will do : pick up the contract and have a thorough read of it before you jump in.
Have you mentored people ?
Yes, I have been involved in setting up a mentoring programme in the nuclear sector for several thousand people. We created a toolkit made up of lots of different components : on-line assessments; an on-line forum to answer questions; a suite of templates and a lot of stuff soft as well. I was lucky to work with a client who was quite forward thinking and didn’t want me to do all the work for their project teams, so helping them un-pick and solve problems in order that they didn’t come back to me with the same problem a second time.
How come you started Built Intelligence ?
In the role of NEC3 champion, as well as procuring contracts under EU Procurement Rules, I procured some IT products - eLearning and NEC3 contract management tools - to make life easier for users I was supporting and drive improvement across a portfolio of projects. Some of it delivered huge savings - tens of millions of pounds to that client - which opened my eyes to just how technology can help delivery. So I looked to digitise my expertise in the NEC3 and EU Procurement regs so I could support users better … which is how we came up with the ideas of ReachBack to answer questions; the "NEC in an Hour" elearning to train people and FastDraft to check contracts.
About the Author
Chris has worked with the Magnox as a focal point for NEC3 expertise and pragmatic commercial advice within their 1,000+ strong project community; acting as their NEC3 'trouble-shooter' for resolving contractual issues, supporting strategic project procurements and business improvements initiatives across their £1.5B portfolio of engineering and construction projects. In 2013 he established, Built Intelligence to digitise his know-how in NEC3 and procurement, due to his frustration with the quality of existing services providers. He can be contacted on +44(0) 7729 273 319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.