#050 Communication and negotiation - Level 2 🤳
Hello folks 👋
We’ve reached my 50th blog post! It’s taken me a lot of time and effort to reach this stage. I know I have missed some weeks but I hope I can try to release 3-4 posts per month going forward! Thank you for taking the time to read this blog 🙂 I hope I have provided some benefit to you!
This week we are covering the Level 2 requirements of the Communication and negotiation competency.
I would highly advise you to go through the candidate guide and the QS pathway guide to understand the basic requirements.
DISCLAIMER: The following is not an exhaustive set of notes, but it's an attempt to help those who, like me at the beginning, did not know where to start! Please feel free to let me know if I have said anything incorrect or out of date!
So what is Level 2 Communication and Negotiation all about?
The RICS note that to demonstrate competence at Level 2, you need to demonstrate your ability to:
Provide evidence of practical application of oral, written, graphic and presentation skills that are appropriate in a variety of situations, specifically including where negotiation is involved.
Writing letters or other formal documents
You may end up writing letters or formal communications to suppliers and or technical colleagues (like designers). Most firms have templates that you can utilise to issue formal communications, but if you don’t how to prepare a well-formatted letter, here’s a guide for you.
Compiling a report
Reports are pretty straightforward documents. You may have already prepared such a document during your time at university. Reports generally follow this format:
Table of Contents
Your firm should have templates which you can use or amend to suit your needs. Although format and structure are important, your clients will be paying for your content. It doesn’t matter how good your report looks, if it doesn’t make any sense then there really isn’t any point!
As part of your role as a QS, you may be asked to produce:
Pre Contract Cost Reports - these reports essentially explain to the client the differences between your estimates at different stages of design
Tender Report - this explains the tender process and results to your client
Post Contract Cost Reports - these do not follow the report structure listed above. These reports are financial reports which outline the client's financial commitment to the project. Have a look at my Project Financial Controls Posts to learn more!
Compiling minutes of meetings
As a junior QS, I was often tasked with taking minutes during meetings. Some might call this a boring administrative task, but I often learned a lot when undertaking this role. Being responsible for the minutes means you actually need to pay attention to everything during the meeting!
Your firm may have templates for meeting minutes, if not then a quick google search can resolve this!
Producing pricing documents
Pricing documents are tender instruments used to enable the contractor to provide a price/quotation.
There are several types of pricing documents:
Bills of Quantities
Schedules of Work / Activity Schedules
Schedules of Rates
Each of these documents has advantages and disadvantages, please see my Design Economics post to learn more!
Your firm may have templates available - in my case, I learnt how to produce pricing documents by actually working on projects pre-tender and volunteering to produce a section of a pricing document!
Delivering reports at meetings
When presenting a report at the meeting, you should prove to each of the audience a copy of the report in advance. Your job is to highlight the key points in the meeting - as the detail will be covered within the report.
Some may decide to issue the report after the meeting, but In my view issuing it beforehand allows your audience to have a quick skim, raise questions and queries and then you can amend it for the next iteration.
Taking part in interviews e.g. for contractor selection
Contractor interviews during the tender stage are interesting because you get to learn a bit more about the contractor. If you do enough of them you see the true colours of our esteemed colleagues on the other side of the fence!
During the tender stage, your job will be to query the commercial element of the contractor’s tender. If you need to clarify what their rates include, you might query their programme or their methodology!
In my experience, the tender team is very rarely the delivery team! The tender team are incredibly polished professionals who portray a collaborative, solutions-based approach. After signing the contract, the contractor’s representatives tend to be very hardline commercially minded individuals who will seek to extract as much value (£££) from the client as contractually possible. Your job as the QS is to protect the client from this - which can be fun (but stressful).
Giving presentations to staff or project teams
When I was younger I had a fear of public speaking. I hated the prospect of standing up in front of my peers and presenting something. I was afraid I would get something wrong and have a breakdown on stage. I am thankful this never happened, but the fear of failure forces to me prepare for presentations, so much so that I end up rehearsing lines like a play! I feel like this is extreme, and I'm sure most people won’t need to do something like this.
I was always told that a presentation should be a tool to complement the speaker - not the other way around.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Negotiating a contract sum or final account
Concluding a project is always interesting, and it can sometimes be contentious. Depending on your contract form, the level of difficulty will be different.
The NEC has a ‘rolling final account’ system. If the rules of the contract are followed, i.e. compensation events are resolved within the given timeframes there should be no drawn-out final account process.
The JCT on the other hand does not have strict time lits with respect to variations, this often results in situations where the work is done and parties choose to negotiate a settlement at the conclusion of the contract. In my view and experience, this always leads to some level of disagreement. The key to this practice is having an excellent record-keeping system. Programmes should be used to track variations and costs should be properly recorded.
Agreeing the value of an instruction
When an instruction is issued by the Contract Administrator or the Project Manager, the Contractor has different obligations depending on the form of the contract.
The NEC has a compensation event process where the contractor must provide a time and cost quotation prior to the work commencing. This offers the client certainty. The JCT does not have a readily usable quotation process - it has a Schedule 2 variation procedure which can have lengthy timescales. Also, if the quotation is not accepted, the cost of the quotation will be picked up by the client. In the NEC, generally, quotations are deemed to be covered in the feed.
When it comes to agreeing to the value of a variation, the assessment of a compensation event in the NEC essentially involves reviewing the schedule of cost components. This means looking at the People, Subcontractor, Materials, Plant and Equipment costs. You would review these costs in line with what has been paid previously, benchmark costs that you may have for similar works, or rate cards if your supplier is working off a framework.
The JCT has a slightly different method of valuing variations.
In the first instance you would look to use existing contract (bill) rates;
If the above is not available, you would use Pro-rata rates;
If the above can’t be used, you would try to use fair and reasonable rates which have been agreed with the contractor, you would check this via benchmarking!
If the above can’t be used then the works will be paid for via Dayworks - which is similar to the schedule of cost components procedure in the NEC i.e. you pay them for the costs incurred in terms of labour, plant and material!
That’s it for this post folks! If you have any queries please drop me a message!