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How to maximise your Commercial Managers’ efficiency

If your Commercial Managers (CMs) do not understand the importance of agreeing the costs of project variations, they may not consider the knock-on effects of what happens when they don’t.

As a Commercial Director, it’s your duty to help your Commercial Managers perform as effectively as possible, which involves more than just paying high salaries and being pleasant to work with. At the core, it’s about education and empowerment, which in this case means providing the right tools to support their daily tasks, especially when it comes to agreeing the costs of project variations as and when they occur.  

If your Commercial Managers (CMs) do not understand the importance of agreeing the costs of project variations, they’ll never think one step further, and consider the knock-on effects of what happens when they don’t. By providing support at the right time during a project, you (as a director) can step in when needed and provide the right support that delivers results.

You can analyse this in a variety of ways, but there are five main aspects that deserve special attention.

1 - Providing the right software solution to meet the evolving needs of your CMs

Effectively, you need to start a conversation about the changes in the landscape of how you agree costs. Innovation has led to digitisation on a scale never before imagined in other parts of the construction industry, but your managers need to adopt it within their daily financial workflows.

Now, asynchronous work and cloud technology have become crucial for a generation of Commercial Managers that need to spend less time on manual processes. Plus, due in part to the effects of COVID, people are meeting face to face significantly less often. Both of these aspects require the right kind of tools to make sure you’re not left in the dust. 

2 - Provide the right support at the right time to your CM

As a Commercial Director, you should have instant deep dive access on the variation accounts across all your live projects so you can see potential issues ahead of time, and thus step in and provide support to CMs before problems escalate.

That being said, the more projects each of your CMs has to juggle, the more they have to deal with on an everyday basis, and you can’t be there to hold their hands all the time. If you give them a solution that improves their ability to handle recurring issues, things will run much more smoothly, regardless of the differing contexts of each project.

3 - Remove the burden of manual reporting from your CM

This allows them to focus more on what they're doing. Currently the only way that you, a Commercial Director can understand a project at a given time is to sit down with each Commercial Manager, who in turn has to prepare a financial summary for each project, which takes time to create and is out of date within days. 

By moving away from manual excel based internal reporting, you allow your Commercial Managers to focus that time back into their projects, making them more effective.

4 - Empower the CM to proactively agree costs efficiently

One of the most important things you can do as a Commercial Director is to give your CMs a structure to ensure that project costs are being agreed effectively. It’s not completely automated, it’s semi-automated, but it provides that ever-important process and format. Not leaving variation agreements down to chance.

5 - Encourage the CM to hold the professional team to account while performing their client side duties 

Let’s go back to another common reason variation costs often don’t get agreed. Outside of the lack of face time, there’s often hesitation from the clients PQS when a project is over budget. They can bury their heads in the sand choosing instead to wait until final account negotiations, in an attempt to claw back some of the project overspend. Often requesting the same breakdowns and substantiations repeatedly as a delaying tactic.

It’s difficult for CMs to hold their PQS to account, so it ends up being more of an ‘encouragement’ process than a ‘do it now’ process. But with the right tools in your back pocket, you can hold every PQS to account without risk of damaging the relationship

As we’ve seen, there are many things to take into account when trying to empower your team and get the best out of your Commercial Managers. All of these problems can be solved in one place with Intval and our guided variation agreement strategy. Get started today… your Commercial Managers and clients will thank you.