Effective Contract Management in the Post-Carillion era

The sudden collapse of Carillion, one of the government's largest suppliers, has rung alarm bells throughout central and local government. Do you have the right systems in place to monitor your suppliers and to safeguard the delivery of public services?

At a time of unprecedented pressure on public spending budgets, it is essential that the highest possible standards are exercised in managing the thousands of contracts that have been outsourced by central and local government to the private or voluntary sectors.

The much-publicised failure of Carillion, the recent critical report on this by Parliament and previous high profile mistakes by other contractors has highlighted that public officials must be proactive in assessing whether government suppliers will face difficulties in delivering services which the public are expecting. In many cases, this will require a radically new approach to contract management.

To address these important concerns Civil Service College has designed Effective Contract Management training, as part of our Financial Management & Commercial Skills series, which will focus on contract management in the post Carillion era. The course is led by David Finlay, a well-known former director of National Audit Office who led the NAO's work on examining contracts led under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and other outsourcing arrangements.

Training Structure

Key Training Features

Who Can Attend

Learning Outcomes

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Training Structure:

The Effective Contract Management course is unique in that it can be offered in alternative formats depending on participants needs. The structured seminar-style course on Effective Contract Management enables attendees to learn alongside other contract managers about the key contract management issues which will determine whether a project succeeds or fails after contracts have been let. Attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from the other delegates about their contract management experiences. 

Alternatively, Civil Service College is able to offer an exciting opportunity for individual project teams to spend a whole day with David Finlay to work through issues they are facing on managing contracts they have let. The attendees will be able to learn about best practice in contract management and to draw up an action plan for how the project and the contract management relationships will be improved. 

For this tailored one day workshop, public sector delegates can either attend alone or with their private sector partners (an approach that can greatly improve collaborative working). At all times, the emphasis will be on identifying solutions that will ensure that public money is not wasted when greater efficiencies and savings would be possible in the management of the contract.

In addition, it would be possible for the open course format to be run for all the contract managers of a specific government department with the option for this to be held at the department's premises.

Key Training Features:

  • Consequences of ineffective contract management
  • Focus on Carillion: why the problems were not picked up earlier; the implications for managing other suppliers
  • Monitoring suppliers and assessing the risks to service delivery and value for money
  • How to deal with situations where supplier problems start to emerge
  • Contract management issues which need to be addressed before contracts are awarded
  • Seeking best value during the contract period and dealing with change
  • How to learn from experiences on other projects
  • Building successful business relationships and how to secure good outcomes in negotiations.
  • A unique contract management "health check" to enable you to assess how well you are managing your contracts

Who Can Attend:

Both the open course and the tailored one day workshop for individual projects will be suitable for: those currently developing projects who want to plan ahead for how the project will be effectively managed once a contract has been let; officials taking on the early stages of managing a contract which has just been awarded; and individuals or teams who have been managing a contract for some time but have encountered difficulties which need resolving.

Learning Outcomes:

Participants will secure an understanding of why contract management is so important and how to manage the key risks to achieving the value for money that it presents. Participants will have a clearer understanding of the strategies which are needed to maximise the effectiveness of contract management and to gain early warning of problems suppliers may be facing which could affect service delivery.

For those attending with private sector partners, participants will also be able to address their own specific contract issues, working to formulate solutions that are agreeable to both parties.

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10:00 - 17:00


Price on request


Available to be delivered In-House

In-House Option

This course is available In-House and can be tailored to meet your individual training requirements.


Lead Trainer

David Finlay

David Finlay

David is an acknowledged expert in the procurement of major projects, contract management and good governance in the delivery of public services.

Read Bio
David Finlay

David Finlay

David has worked at senior levels in the private, public and voluntary sectors. He is an acknowledged expert in the procurement of major projects, contract management and good governance in the delivery of public services. He has also taken a particular interest in how business relationships can be improved to achieve more successful outcomes.

David qualified as an accountant with PWC and then developed a career in corporate finance gaining expertise in business reviews and helping companies to raise finance. He was then asked by the National Audit Office to use his commercial experience to help the NAO establish a team to examine government infrastructure projects procured under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). As the Director of the NAO PFI team David led over 50 reports to Parliament working closely with the Public Accounts Committee.

David now divides his time between Board roles and other support and training across the public, private and voluntary sectors. David was Chair of the National Youth Agency (2013-15) and a member of the regional NHS Board for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough (2017-20). In 2021 David was appointed to the Board of the National Infrastructure Commission. He is also the author of a new book Coronadiary showing how the pandemic underlined the need for effective planning, good use of data and managing risk in both government and business.

David is in regular demand as a trainer. He has trained many groups of government officials from both the UK and overseas and also private sector businesses on the procurement of major projects, contract management, managing business relationships, commercial and financial awareness, effective risk management and preparing for Parliament Committee hearings.

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