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From Reactive To Proactive

January 20, 2010

“I need people who will help me understand the implications to existing and future relationships – what I must think about, what I can and can’t do.”

These were the words of one CIO I spoke with recently, commenting about the type of support she would like from her commercial / contracts staff.  She was talking about the emergence of Cloud Computing, but her frustration with broader issues was evident. And it is reflected in many of the executive conversations that I have.

“When I ask specific questions, I often receive a good answer – eventually. But I have to ask. No-one ever comes to me and says ‘You know about this trend in your industry, it really means you need to re-think some of your relationships’.”

The point of these comments is that many executives today want a far more proactive service from their contracts, procurement or legal staff. They want to be alerted and briefed on the commercial and contractual implications of shifts in their industry, or in broader economic conditions. What must I do? What are others doing? What will the impacts be for my business or area of responsibility? And if they do not receive this proactive service, they question the value of support organizations, which often seem more focused on enforcing compliance with the past than on helping to prepare for the future.

Much of the frustration that executives feel with contracts and procurement support is that it does not help them anticipate and manage problems or opportunities. If they are going to perform well, they must be aware of trends and innovations and how those impact existing and future contract terms and relationships.

That means we must gather market intelligence and analyse it, to alert our internal clients to the opportunities and threats of change.  Then we become a source of real and indispensable value to the business.

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