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The Core Of Contract Management: The Discipline Makes Progress

August 9, 2010

Back in August 2009, I wrote about the future of contract management and discussed the importance of developing a common definition of the contract manager’s role (and for the sake of clarity, I include commercial managers in this definition). At that time, around 2,000 people had read my blog, The Role of a Contract Manager. Today, that number has increased to more than 10,000 (with many of these also having read the sequel ‘Role of a Contract Manager – Revisited’), indicating the growth of interest and – perhaps –  continuing uncertainty over what exactly a Contract Manager does (interestingly, many readers are executive managers, perhaps considering organizational change).

Over the last year, IACCM has continued to capture and document ‘best practice’ To date, it has researched post-award contract management and negotiation; currentlythe focus has moved to pre-award / bid management activity. In recent months, more than 300 IACCM members have worked collaboratively in developing an Operational Guide to Contract Management (due for publication in November) and work is underway on a Strategic Guide (publication early 2011).  IACCM’s topical research continues, looking at many aspects of the contract management role, contribution and changing business needs.

Last month, in response to a member question, IACCM set its members the challenge of coming up with a ’30 second elevator pitch’ for their role. The diversity of input makes fascinating reading; yet there was also a growing consistency in the themes. Frequently recurring words included:

  • contract
  • parties
  • relationship
  • managing
  • obligations
  • customer
  • supplier
  • risk
  • business
  • discipline
  • terms
  • appropriate
  • quality
  • process
  • performance
  • financial
  • legal

The results of the competition will be announced shortly. Interestingly, the winner is not from one of the countries that might be expected to have the most defined view of contract management. The diversity of input represents another step forward in creating a global community. In addition, real progress has been made with the international academic community and their recognition not only of the role, but also the development of specific programs that will enable the emergence of qualified practitioners.

Today, IACCM has more than 4,500 active participants in its Managed Learning and professional certification programs, with the numbers growing by the month. The Association’s membership continues to expand – currently by more than 600 a month – and it attracts newcomers from all around the world (over 120 nations now represented).

So when I look back at that post from exactly a year ago, I see significant progress in the development of Contract Management as a global profession. IACCM has been privileged in its opportunity to lead this movement and to coordinate the activities of so many dedicated and enthusiastic practitioners. Of course, there will never be one standardized job role that applies in every organization worldwide, any more than roles for sales, or marketing, or legal or finance professionals are standardized. Industry, culture, internal politics will all continue to play a part in determining the precise allocation of responsibilities. But we have achieved some important milestones on our journey and there is certainly no question about its continuation.

Contract management – and contract managers – are today an unstoppable force.

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