The Contract Manager. A Business Ally
Published on : 06/04/2020 06 April Apr 04 2020
Though it has yet to become common in all businesses, Contract Management has nonetheless taken on great worth. It has proven its value in the industrial, information technology, telecommunications and energy sectors, where contracts are often multinational, multiyear and amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. A contract manager’s role is crucial for optimizing and securing the contractual cycle in major projects. It’s a complex and risky job – and one that’s often overlooked.
In his blog, Tim Cummins, CEO of the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM), explains the contract manager’s role : “Today, it is not simply an operational function overseeing transactional negotiations, implementation and management of contracts. Increasingly, it is a critical vehicle for high-value management information that supports strategic decision-making.”
But what added value does a contract manager bring to a business?
The contract manager provides overall tracking for the duration of a contract cycle. Starting in the earliest phases and continuing until the end of a project, Contract Managers guarantee traceability by their constant presence and attention, working at the core of the team to help steer a project to completion. As contract specialists, they bring extensive legal knowledge to advise project members in their decision-making and on how to follow rules and limitations set out in the contract, laws and regulations. Their multidisciplinary background allows them to provide an overarching approach to contract management. Their legal and financial knowledge, as well as their operational experience, positions them as key players capable of providing solutions for a number of project interests.
Furthermore, in their crucial role as communicators, they’re in charge of facilitating correspondence among all internal and external project members. As a result of increasingly complex projects, mobilizing resources with varying work methods requires someone who is capable of interpreting contractual clauses for other team members who lack legal knowledge. According to Grégory Leveau, president of l’École Européenne de Contract Management (E2CM), “The true value added by the contract manager is social skills. It’s a distinguishing feature, and the future of the contract manager depends on the demonstration of this added value.”
In case of conflict, contract managers must use their interpersonal skills for mediation. These skills can enable them to help resolve a dispute by easing communication among the interested parties.
Finally, by anticipating potential legal risks and maintaining open and clear communication with co-contractors, the contract manager guarantees the project’s legal security. A thorough plan is central to mitigating risk, and creating this plan is yet another function exclusive to the contract manager.
Make no mistake : managing a major contract is a huge financial undertaking, and poor management could result in equally huge losses. Contract managers work at margin protection and cost reduction, but also identify new sources of revenue, thus guaranteeing the project’s profitability while limiting financial risks.
Despite this central role, the contract manager’s grunt work can go unrecognized in the business world. Fortunately, tools that are both complex and diverse – and designed to optimize contract cycle management – are finally facilitating the contract manager’s important role.
A major study on Contract Management in France, conducted in 2015 by the Association Française de Cautionnement Mutuel (AFCM), Legal Suite and E2CM, asserts this unfortunate reality. Patrick Deleau, president and founder of Legal Suite, states that “[…] the positioning and the incredible lack of tools remain huge obstacles. It’s true that discovering that billions of transactions can still be almost entirely managed on spreadsheets could call into question the entire profession.” It’s clear that the tasks of future contract managers will need to be optimized and made easier by technological solutions specifically designed to match the particularities of the role and the unique business processes associated with it.
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