Defining and managing contracts

A focus on contract management is a key aspect of procurement and commissioning.

What is contract definition and management? 

The ability to effectively manage the contract lifecycle, from creation and negotiation to execution and ongoing management.  

This involves ensuring that contracts are well-drafted, compliant, and actively performance managed throughout their duration to minimise risks, optimise performance, and foster positive relationships with suppliers.  


  • Knowledge of procurement and contract law. 
  • Knowledge of social value policy.
  • Understanding of best practice public sector commissioning, sourcing, and procurement processes.   
  • Understanding of contract management practice and processes.  


Able to:  

  • Define contract documentation: Adhering to public procurement and contract regulations, whilst protecting the organisation from any commercial, data, liability, or reputational risk. 
  • Negotiate final contract terms and conditions: Working with the suppliers, to ensure there is no ambiguity in the service specification or tender response clarifications and a clear exit strategy/transition is in place. 
  • Define an onboarding process and plan: Identifying the activities, information, and resources required to successfully mobilise the contract. This includes access to data, systems, issuing final contract, purchase orders etc and definition of roles and responsibilities. 
  • Monitor contract performance and risks: Ensuring the time, cost and quality of supplier outputs is in line with the service specification and contract documentation.  
  • Manage change controls: Challenging any requests which are not changes to contract scope/specifications and ensuring approvals for those which are required in line with the scheme of delegation.  
  • Resolve conflicts: Where performance of the Council and/or supplier is under question using influencing and negotiation skills to solve problems.  
  • Manage exit strategy: Developing a project plan to ensure a smooth transition to the new supplier. This includes activities such as final payments, transfer of all data and information, contract novation, and TUPE if and where required. 
  • Manage risk: Understanding, analysing, and managing risks associated with contract definition and management within the council’s risk appetite. 


Behaviours associated with requirement definition require team members to be: 

  • Collaborative
  • Diligent 
  • Analytical  
  • Solution focused 
  • Decisive   
  • Inclusive  
  • Resilient  
  • Adaptable and pragmatic

Procurement and commissioning – maturity index 

A related procurement and commissioning maturity index has been created to enable councils to understand their current maturity and to set, and work towards, a target state. This can be downloaded below.