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Top Articles of 2011

December 21, 2011

A colleague asked me which blogs had attracted most readers in 2011 and whether it reflected any trend in issues or interests.

The clear winners were the articles on ‘The Role of a Contract Manager’ and ‘The Purpose of a Contract’. To my mind, this reflects continuing uncertainty for many in the contracts and commercial world, who face regular questions about their value and threats to their organizational role. But it is interesting that a significant number of readers come from outside the ranks of practicing contracts and commercial professionals. In some cases, they are senior managers who perhaps want to better understand the ‘norms’ for this role; in others they may be individuals considering Contract Management as a career path.

But these articles are all from prior years. Those on the role of a contract manager have topped the chart each year since first written in 2008. So what about the most read items that were written in 2011?

In first place is ‘Getting on top of contracts’, in which I discussed the growing pressure on those responsible for contracts because of the steady shift towards more service and solution agreements. The article also explained that this pressure had led to the theme for IACCM’s 2011 conference series (the presentations from which are available in the IACCM library).

Second is  a brief article on Sales Contracting: Status of Contract Management & Legal Support. This was based on some excellent research by IACCM on the business perceptions of the role and value being provided by those in Contract Management and Legal. It revealed a significant divide between the work that the practitioners consider valuable, and the focus that executives and service users would like to see. In particular, it highlighted how improved contract management can become a source of competitive advantage. The full research report is also available in the IACCM library.

Adversarial Negotiation and the Winds of Change explored the reasons why many negotiations have become (in the view of practitioners) more confrontational. At a time when businesses would benefit from increased collaboration, it is disappointing that contracting and negotiation have become more fixated on risk allocation and behaviors that engender a lack of trust.

In fourth place, Hypocrisy in Contracting drew on a similar theme – but suggested that rather than complaining about the behavior of the other side, we should start our analysis rather closer to home and reduce the discrepancy between our own supply and procurement contracts. The article highlighted several organizations which are doing precisely that – and expect to gain market share as a result.

The Purpose of Negotiation takes the final place in my round-up. It drew on comments received from an in-house attorney and led to an exploration of the differences between ‘transactions’, ‘deals’ and ‘relationships’. I think this is one of the most important areas for professional focus – and something that does not receive adequate consideration.

With an average of around 1,000 readers each week, I hope that these – and the many other articles written in 2011 – are proving helpful to the world of contracting and commercial management. I have plenty of reasons to believe that this field is growing in its importance and appreciation by many senior managers. As we enter 2012, there are many opportunities and many open doors for the practitioner community to make a real and lasting difference. But more on that topic next year!

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