Dear PM Advisor January 14, 2013

Dear PM Advisor, I have been running a project that was delayed for several months beyond the end date due to contract negotiations. My company's legal team caused most of the delays. Now they have signed off and the vendor is just about to approve it from their end. I expect their signature tomorrow.

Meanwhile, my company's purchasing department has looked at the contract and is starting to nitpick it. They want to add boilerplate things about non-compete clauses and change when payment must be made from 30 to 45 days. 

I'm ready to go live with this project and have people lined up to fly to foreign countries to perform work. I'm afraid that monkeying with the contract at this late date for trivial reasons will cause more months of delays. What should I do?

Talking Turkey in Mahwah, NJ

Dear Turkey,

If the contract changes your purchasing department wants are truly trivial, and what you mentioned above do appear so, do what I recommend below. If, however, there are some real sticking points that could cost your company serious money or put them at risk for quality issues, do what purchasing suggests and delay the project until the contract is modified and approved.

It does sound nit-picky from your description so here is my recommendation. You are only waiting on the vendor's signature. Don't tell them yet that your company is making changes. Get their signature and keep your go-live date on track. Meanwhile, make the modifications your company is requesting. When your company has approved the changes present it to the vendor as a revised version of the contract. The changes are small and they should agree to them and won't feel like you hit them with a bait and switch.

With any luck, your go-live will be preserved and the revised contract will be approved by both parties sometime later.

Good luck,

PM Advisor

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