The Recipe for Successful Contract Management
The focus of contract management is to achieve specific goals by planning, organizing and managing within a given set of constraints.
Given the temporary nature of a contract, this area of management often overlooks the bigger picture: the contract lifecycle. Contract managers would greatly benefit from revisiting the tenets of the more holistic approach of contract management – business process management (BPM).
Focusing on Business Processes
Any good business process should accurately and timely process data. This is a key aspect of the business process management. To make an impact in any contract you need to start with the lowest level, staff particularly helping them with documentation. Documentation is critical to help people understand how to repeat tasks in the future.
Contract managers need to go beyond just executing a contract. They need to understand all of its components, both data and people, and how they interact with each other. This will empower the contract manager to achieve similar goals faster and more effectively the next time. It is key to involve all levels staff in establishing accurate and reliable documentation. This is mainly achieved in two ways.
Better Requirements Gathering
First, contract managers need to be able to pinpoint areas where the requirements are not specific. This can only be achieved by talking with the specific personnel assigned to the task. When this happens the manager needs to use his or her soft skills to bring together the appropriate key stakeholders to evaluate the problem, establish the necessary data, document it, and move on to the next step. Through proper documentation, time will be saved the next time that a similar process needs to be implemented.
Keeping an up to date library of contracts and templates means that sales teams can have constant access to the latest approved contract documents and close deals faster. This also means that new hires can go through the on boarding process with greater ease.
Facilitating Use of Contract Management Software
Second, contract managers need to contain the resistance of not only staff but also of clients to use a contract management software. Instead of making the software the focus of the conversation, contract managers need to put the contract processes at the center of the discussion.
Only by analyzing process can the manager truly establish the needs of the contract lifecycle and determine the appropriate solution. It becomes clear that a paper-based or digital system locked to a single computer is a subpar solution. The project manager needs to make use of his or her soft skills to overcome resistance to new solutions by creating dialogue that centers on facts and not opinions. Staff at all levels and departments of the organization must be involved in the process of evaluating an enterprise contract management system so that the decision making process doesnt get stuck for lack of proper representation.
By bringing all levels of staff into the analysis of business processes and focusing discussions on improving business processes, the contract manager will achieve a better global consensus into all stages of the contract lifecycle. The time invested in documenting all contract processes will provide future savings in faster execution of tasks and faster training of personnel.
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