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Contracts & Commercial: Raising the Bar

September 12, 2012

What is the difference between a role and a practice? A lot, when it comes to value, status and rewards.

Professions have driven the development of consistent methods, practices and terminology. In many areas of the business world, professional credentials are a pre-requisite to practice or to gain recognition. Professionals have a clear sense of their mission – they provide a recognised service, often with a high degree of specialism. In general, users understand the work they perform and when it is appropriate to involve and employ them.

That lack of clarity continues to undermine the contracts and commercial practitioner. Non-practitioners are not sure what we stand for. Indeed, their confusion frequently stems from their interactions with practitioners, since they themselves are highly variable in how they see their role and responsibilities. One of the questions I receive most often is ‘what is the value of a contract manager?’ (Yes, I will accept amusing answers to that one!).

IACCM continues its work to define the contribution of commercial practice and within that, the body of knowledge required for its performance. To do that, we need wide acceptance of the principle that competency must be defined at both the professional and institutional level, with standards of excellence in training and institutions that sustain a profession. Those standards of competency must be international in scope and accompanied by clear indicators of value.

To me, the value proposition relates to our work in developing and sustaining healthy and profitable trading relationships. To achieve this, we need some simple approaches to prevention, diagnostics and cure. A good place to start is in the area of risk – since this is one of the few things on which all contracts and commercial staff agree they have a role. Inspired by work undertaken within two member companies, IACCM will be promoting discussion around commercial assurance and the development of associated commercial risk dashboards. It is a good place to start because we believe that through this approach we can make our work immediately relevant and intelligible to senior management – especially at a time of such dramatically increased risk sensitivity.

Watch out for up-coming webinars where we will discuss our plans and put forward ideas. And if this is a topic on which you have views or would like to contribute, please let me know.


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