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It’s a New Year: how happy will it be?

January 5, 2022

I am neither a fortune-teller, nor a clairvoyant, but I do have extensive insights to the discipline of commercial and contract management and what the year ahead may hold for practitioners in this field.

After the shocks of 2020, many felt that 2021 must be better. In large part, they were wrong. It turned out to be a massively disrupted year and we enter 2022 with many in the CCM community recovering from unprecedented levels of operational workload. They suffered from the disjointed nature of the contracting process – often struggling to find agreements, or to gather required information; facing the frustration of data fragmentation and difficulties in accessing key stakeholders. The innate inefficiencies of current organizational and procedural design – and the absence of integrated technology – became all too evident, hampering efforts to deal effectively with continued market disruption, supply challenges and frequent contract renegotiations.

So this time, surely, 2022 cannot be worse?

The signs are mixed. Supply disruptions continue. Workforce availability – and skill shortages – are proving a persistent problem. Geopolitical insecurity is threatening world trade. And in its various forms, the pandemic continues. Yet uncertainty brings with it opportunities. WorldCC’s recent benchmark report highlights massive growth in executive interest and investment in raising contracting and commercial capabilities, since these are critical in managing market volatility. The research tells us that the focus for CCM must be:

  • Protecting against disruption
  • Better anticipating and managing risk
  • Operating at speed
  • Safeguarding revenue and growth

These objectives will be met through simplification – of process, of data flows, of artefacts such as contracts and governance frameworks. They demand a new blend of people and technology – a shift that is recognized and welcomed by many of today’s CCM practitioners.

So does this add up to a happy new year?

For those who dislike change, 2022 will be an unsettling year. For those that embrace change, 2022 will perhaps turn out to be the most satisfying year of their career.

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  1. Michael Thornton permalink

    From a talent and capability perspective I’d echo the themes of what is being sought after by our (public sector) customers at the moment – lots of commercial and contract governance work (it seems more retrospective rather than proactive, which was a reverse of trends we saw back in 2017/2018), implementing new legal social value models into processes, lack of data and key stakeholders/users, lots of contracting patching-up and mapping. Also the impending PFI Exit era that is edging closer every day. I have noticed a slight lack of control from procurement functions over the past couple of years, there are more project led contracts being agreed with procurement signing the paperwork. Again, it seems a backward step to progress made over the past 10 years or so.

    • Thank you Michael – excellent insights that confirm the view

    • Thank you Michael – excellent insights, confirming the view that CCM practitioners are today ‘essential workers’. I think the PFI exit raises some fascinating questions and is a good area for a research team to assemble and consider

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