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What is the role of a Contract Manager?

December 13, 2012

On a typical day, about 100 people connect to this blog because they have done a web search on ‘the role of a contract manager’.

Should we be worried that so many people seem anxious or uncertain about their role? Is it just that they want affirmation, or perhaps to benchmark, or are they being asked to describe what they do? In many cases, it may be driven by executive questions – which are sometimes positive and sometimes negative. And of course there are some who are not contract managers and are either considering a career change or perhaps wanting to challenge the role that is being performed in their organization.

Before we get concerned about this apparent uncertainty, it is worth remembering that almost everyone – no matter what function they perform – is assailed by similar questions right now. It isn’t just the volatility of markets; it is more fundamental than that. Business organization itself is being challenged to adapt to a far different world, where agility is key to survival. Within this context, the management of risk and opportunity has become critical to success.

Contracts and contract managers lie at the heart of the problem and of the solution. They can either be a negative and reactionary force, constraining change through clinging to outdated rules and procedures. Or they can be dynamic enablers of the new and emerging world, through challenging old policies and practices and bringing judgment and innovation to commercial and contracting process.

It is these twin forces that are increasingly evident in the discussions I have with executive management. The contrast is stark: some see contract managers as the problem and a hang-over from the past, while others see them as representing a core competence for the future. Therefore in some places the challenge is to grow skills and contribution, while in others it has become a battle for survival.

In this environment, the fact that so many are seeking advice on their role is not surprising.  This blog contains many articles that provide an answer, but early next year we will consolidate those thoughts and ideas into articles for IACCM’s ‘Contracting Excellence’. Meantime, share your ideas – or get in touch (tcummins@iaccm.com) if you need more immediate help with an answer.

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One Comment
  1. B.R.Srikanth permalink

    Contracts Management requires a unique set of knowledge and skill sets as Tim has briefly explained; Legal, Financial, Technical/Project mgmt/risk mapping.

    While the debate about Legal profession dominating the Contracts function has been pervasive, I strongly feel that other disciplines should enter and thrive in this area. Technical and Project Mgmt personnel can be trained very briefly to become excellent Contract Managers; Commercial negotiation skills are at the first level technical and only later are strategic issues of commercial negotaition important.

    Hence, I strongly believe that while the legal profession would always be hesitant to adopt this function as a career, we should encourage more technical people into Contracts

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