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Change – and do it now!

June 16, 2015

This week’s IACCM Europe forum brings together more than 200 senior managers from across industry and the public sector. They are exploring and discussing the theme ‘2015 – the year of Commercial Excellence’.

There is wide agreement about the pressures facing business and the need for rapid and substantial change. Indeed, during one of the executive workshops, Jonathan Cooper-Bagnall, from Proxima Group, made the observation that many business functions had spent 10 or more years undergoing reengineering. Similar fundamental shifts were now being demanded of commercial teams (contract management, legal and parts of procurement), yet in a much shorter time period of perhaps 2 or 3 years. This creates massive challenges, especially with regard to the development of skills.

Jonathan’s point reflects the sense of challenge at the conference. Many delegates recognize the nature of the commercially transformational pressures in their markets, but are struggling to shift from current roles, tasks and behaviors. As a result, they are overwhelmed by the workload that results form change, yet lacking the people or tools to adapt. Commercial processes, policies, practices and systems (to the extent systems exist) often pull in a direction opposite to that of the market. This means that existing commercial resources can be seen as the enemies of change, resisting the needs of the business.

This conference is therefore very much about how to deal with the change agenda, how to start making the rapid shifts that are necessary. It focuses on issues such as the almost universal shift to performance and outcome-based agreements, to new payment models, to a role of business enabling rather than business review, to a need to segment market and relationship types rather than deal with transactions and individual deviations. It places commercial teams in a role as leaders and instigators of change, rather than a force focused on compliance. Risk management becomes far more holistic and an innate element of practice, rather than today’s rather selective and inefficient approach to selective risk avoidance. Overall, Commercial Excellence sits right at the hear of the business. This year’s event is helping commercial teams to fill the current vacuum and take ownership of their destiny – in a time-frame that is dramatically faster than that experienced by any other business function.

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