The PFI monitoring calendar is an essential tool for you, as the client, to stay on top of the responsibilities of your PFI contractor and its sub-contractors, as well as your own responsibilities.
In this article we focus on how you can use the PFI monitoring calendar to reduce your costs and to improve efficiency.
PFI contracts are sometimes described as ‘self-monitoring’, implying that the contractor can be left to oversee their own performance. While many contractors are competent and diligent in fulfilling their duties, the pressure from shareholders and top management to reduce costs will often dis-incentivise the contractor from carrying out monitoring and service delivery to the degree expected by the client and required under the contract. It therefore falls to the client to ensure that the contractor performs all its obligations.
In addition, you, as the client, need to keep on top of your own role and your responsibilities to end users, especially where there is a separate legal agreement or SLA (e.g. with a school governing body) that sets out such responsibilities.
Finally, the length and complexity of a PFI project often lead the parties to create procedures outside the contract to enable them to operate the project more effectively (such as arrangements for regular site inspections, vandalism management, etc.). These will also need to be covered in the monitoring calendar.
The PFI Monitoring Calendar – Why Have One?
The main purpose of a monitoring calendar is to ensure that:
- The contractor delivers the full scope of contracted services and meets any specified time-scales
- The contractor fulfils its other contractual obligations, e.g. providing information required under any profit sharing arrangements
- You, as the client, are well prepared for periodic activities (e.g. benchmarking/market testing)
- Transactions with end users, including any financial contributions due from them, take place on time
- “Best-practice” periodic activities (e.g. regular site visits, financial monitoring activities) are captured, making contract management more effective.
How To Use and Manage a PFI Monitoring Calendar to Best Effect
The simplest way to structure a monitoring calendar is in a spreadsheet, which can be filtered by a specific month. For larger and more complex contracts, a database or online monitoring tool may be appropriate. If a spreadsheet is used, it is recommended that the following are included as a minimum:
- What needs to be done
- Party responsible (client/contractor/end user) and designated lead on each side
- Contractual reference, where relevant
- Frequency of the activity
- Date on which the task is due
- Status (e.g. red, amber, green)
To ensure that the calendar is kept up to date and monitored regularly, it is recommended that you appoint a PFI contract monitoring officer who is tasked with a monthly review and dissemination of the outstanding and relevant monthly tasks. All team members with monitoring responsibilities should be asked to regularly update the status and comments sections of the calendar. This will ensure there is an audit trail of monitoring activities and outstanding actions and will allow managers to track the performance of their own staff, as well as the contractor, and decide which issues require escalation.
The monitoring calendar is an essential tool for effective monitoring of PFI contracts, enabling you to keep track of your contractor’s performance of all its obligations, including:
- Periodic activities
- Reporting on profit share
- Benchmarking and market testing
- Provision of reports, information and documents
- Payments to and from end users
- Periodic financial reconciliations
- Non-contractual best practice activities.
For support and advice on any operational PFI issues, including setting up monitoring calendars and provision of templates, please do not hesitate to contact Vicky on T. 0845 345 0130 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You may also be interested in reading our article focusing on the PFI Operations Manual, which details how to keep it simple and make it useful for effective day-to-day contract management. Click here to read the post.