5 Contract Management Resolutions for 2017
2017 is now here and provides a great opportunity to set strategies that will energize and streamline your contract management processes. From establishing customer empathy to improving the on-boarding practices of new contract managers, let’s review five initiatives that you could use in your enterprise in 2017.
- Develop Stronger Senior Level Contract Managers
The role of the senior level contract manager is constantly evolving. However, one constant is the need for them to become energetic leaders who inspire all contract managers to deliver outstanding service and meet compliance requirements. James M. Citrin, a senior director at executive firm Spencer Stuart and co-author of “You’re In Charge, Now What?” offers two useful guidelines.
First, allow senior level contract managers a platform to introduce or reintroduce themselves to the company and let their subordinates know who they are and what they want to accomplish. This exercise allows an opportunity to clarify goals and set the tone for the rest of the year.
Second, ask senior level contract managers to establish three powerful themes (two seem incomplete and people won’t remember four!) Citrin suggests making those themes straightforward and using them consistently and relentlessly. The themes need to be sufficiently specific to be meaningful, yet general enough to serve as organizing principles across many contract processes.
- Establish Customer Empathy
Ranging from inferior client service to passive communication, “indifference by supplier” is among the top reasons why clients defect or decide not to renew a contract. It’s very easy to claim that some clients are just too difficult. Instead, create opportunities for contract managers to understand the client experience, such as mock exercises of the contract lifecycle or shadowing a senior level contract manager or a top-performing contract manager from another area.
To keep customers’ needs in contract manager’s minds, failures have to hit them where it hurts, in their bonuses. Introduce a customer satisfaction criteria that affects the calculation of a particular bonus. Take a cue from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which requires branch managers to have customer satisfaction scores at least equal to that of the company average to be eligible for a promotion. When structured right, such an initiative can have upside potential and do away with the idea that customer service isn’t part of a contract manager’s job. Through the dashboard of her CLM software, a contract manager could keep track of her current score and find out of changes in that score.
- Create Contingency Planning
When talking about customer empathy, contract managers are bound to talk about difficult scenarios or extraordinary situations. This is another opportunity for senior level contract managers to become involved and help in the development of best practices for though scenarios. Putting customers first requires collaboration from several departments including marketing, operations, and human resources and leadership from a contract manager. Provide the time for a senior level contract manager to select a team of representatives across several departments and establish guidelines for difficult scenarios.
Once the rules and pre-approved processes for contingency planning are set, make those guidelines available through the library of your CLM software. By centralizing the contingency documents, you’ll make sure that all contract managers have access to the most-up-to-date templates and clauses. Delivering contingency planning is one of the ways that CLM software helps with contract processes. Going even further, you could configure your CLM software to customize an existing CLM lifecycle with specific processes to address a major customer issue.
- Improve Onboarding of New Contract Managers
Keeping the contract management troops happy should be a target of any enterprise since day one. Even better, make that first day feel more like the fifteenth by setting one-on-one meetings for the new manager with key reports and customers, allowing the contract manger to establish a strategic agenda for the first 100 days, and providing time to carefully study the portfolio of clients that the manager will handle.
To help craft a strategic agenda for the first 100 days that is not only meaningful for the new contract manager but also for the enterprise, suggest some easy-to-reach goals that have been in the backburner for too long. The new hire is meant to free up the bandwidth of current employees, after all. Mapping out those quick wins will provide an opportunity for the new contract manager to shine and take care of organizational priorities.
Also, establish from day one who are the direct supervisors of the new contract manager. Failing to impress those people can quickly bury the growth prospects of the new hire within the enterprise.
- Capture All Client Data Securely
All of the previous initiatives require extensive planning and coordination, so here’s one that you can implement since the first week and provide you a “quick win” as well. Establish an “all secure data, all the time” resolution that is strictly enforced across all contract managers.
With a robust CLM solution such as the one provided by Contract Logix, you can create secure forms that are customizable and accessible in any device, regardless of operating system, as long as it’s connected to the Internet. By enforcing data in-take from client through encrypted connections, your enterprise increases compliance and minimizes the risk of disclosing sensitive client information in case of a hack. As the hacking of the email server of Sony Pictures taught us, email isn’t the safest of places to store sensitive contract data. (Learn more about the 4 contract management lessons from the Sony hack.)
Start working today towards a successful and productive 2017. These contract management resolutions will set you on the right track to improve contract processes, customer relationships, and employee contributions to the enterprise. Here’s to a great year in contract management!