It is now 17 years since I took over as chair and then as president of the NEC Users’ Group. This is my last year as president and, since I alternate this editorial with NEC Users’ Group chair John Welch, this will be my final one.
It gives me great pleasure to report that during the past 17 years, the NEC Users’ Group has gone from strength to strength, expanding both in size and geographically. There are now 267 user organisations from all over the world, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Israel, Hong Kong, South Africa and the UK.
As a result, the NEC annual conferences have become increasingly informative and valuable, with case studies from across the globe. The introduction of an annual NEC awards event in 2015 also helped to cement the common interests of NEC users in extolling their successes, many of whom had dipped their feet in the NEC ‘water’ for the first time.
Users’ passion and commitment
At this year’s NEC annual conference in July I was asked two questions: what has struck me most in my time as NEC Users’ Group chair and president, and what does the future hold? As to the first question, my overriding impression is the sheer passion and commitment shown by NEC users in embracing the NEC tenets of collaboration, mutual trust, cooperation and risk sharing. This has been underpinned by the high level of user support provided by the NEC team led by Rekha Thawrani.
Regarding the second question, there is no limit to which the principles enshrined by NEC contracts can reach. NEC can be adapted for almost anything, such as shipbuilding, defence procurement and the information technology sector. Indeed, there was a presentation at this year’s conference relating to NEC’s use in software development for the SKA Observatory project in South Africa and Australia.
Using NEC in the supply chain
But I have one final thought I wish to leave you with: it really is pointless using NEC contracts at the top level of project delivery if their use is not mandated along the supply chain. Given the bulk of project value lies with suppliers, it is vital that all the NEC risk management mechanisms are deployed at all levels of project delivery. Furthermore, it is only fair that the benefits are made available to everyone if we are to be collaborative in action as well as in intent.
A recent example illustrates my point. NEC secondary option X1 on price adjustment for inflation was used at the top level of a recent UK school project, but it was not applied to the supply chain because they were engaged on bespoke contracts. As such the main contractor was protected against the rampant inflation we have experienced recently but its suppliers we not, and they suffered accordingly.
All NEC users should insist that NEC contracts are used as a suite throughout the entire supply chain, otherwise we risk undermining the NEC principles we have all signed up to.
It now only remains for me to bow out and offer my very best wishes to all the people I have befriended during my 17 years of involvement with NEC.