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Top 5 challenges for contract and commercial managers

July 6, 2017

Almost 80% of contract and commercial managers have a high level of job satisfaction, but 62% feel that they lack a clear career path.

This uncertainty over future opportunity is reflected in the top challenges facing the contract and commercial management (CCM) community. They are:

  1. Providing measurable business value
  2. Operating with consistent skills and standards
  3. Gaining status and recognition
  4. Demonstrating leadership
  5. Attracting and retaining quality staff

It doesn’t take long to see the connection between these challenges. Many contracts and commercial groups lack the leadership needed to fix these problems and to develop a strategy that tackles the core issue of ‘providing measurable business value’. Inspirational leaders are those who grasp the potential to influence business direction, based on the wealth of data that can be generated from the contracting process. Those leaders also appreciate that need to provide consistent skills and standards – they recognize the diverse backgrounds of the typical CCM function and turn this into a strenght by super-imposing a training and development path that leads to common methods and techniques.

Through steps such as these, the challenges of status and attracting quality staff are rapidly addressed.

Why is leadership so often a  problem? It is one of those ‘chicken and egg’ situations. Many times, those promoted to leadership positions are good practitioners, but come from a background of transactional excellence, rather than strategic thought. Some dismiss the need for consistent training, taking the view that contract and commercial management is an art, rather than a science, and is something learnt through experience, rather than teaching.

IACCM surveys regularly reveal a high level of dissatisfaction with functional leadership – so while practitioners love the work, they also fear that it is a dead-end. Fixing this issue is a priority for IACCM and various steps are being taken. For example, we are working with a growing number of business schools to develop MBA and executive education programs. Our training and certification programs include a growing emphasis on leadership and influencing skills and methods. Our research and conference programs are increasingly focused on highlighting the sources of value – current and future – for the CCM community. We are also working to finalize development of ‘the IACCM Way’ – a blueprint for excellence.

The challenges we face can be fixed – and the opportunities before us make the journey worthwhile.

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