According to LinkedIn, there are some 8 million people with Contract Manager as their job title. I don’t know how all 8 million feel, but many that I speak with complain that people don’t really understand what they do, or fully appreciate its value.
My answer to that is, you are right. So what are you doing about it?
Diversity is the norm
Contract management is a lifecycle activity and therefore there are multiple roles within it. These vary in how they are performed (eg it depends on the complexity of the contract or environmental factors such as the industry or jurisdiction) and potentially the level of skill or knowledge required to perform them. This means the generic job title doesn’t automatically help in understanding the specific tasks that an individual contract manager undertakes.
However, the same is true of many other functions. What do individual lawyers, doctors or finance professionals do? The answers are very diverse since they also operate in specialisms. Just knowing someone is a lawyer tells us nothing about their particular area of practice or knowledge – a prosecutor, an IP specialist, a regulator, a family law expert?
So what’s different?
The big difference is the failure by those who call themselves contract managers to unite around a core body of knowledge. That has been – and continues to be – a core purpose of IACCM. It is why we have spent almost 20 years developing and publishing the contract management body of knowledge and training programs; defining test and certification standards; undertaking research; developing an academic community and journal; defining the contract management lifecycle and producing an ongoing series of updates that describe the role and how it is evolving (the most recent, exploring the impacts of technology, just 4 months ago). Recently, those new technologies and changing social and business expectations have allowed a growing range of standards – contracting principles, terms and design.
It remains true that people come to the contract management role from diverse backgrounds, but that’s also the case for many other roles (eg procurement, project management, finance). It is also true that contract management has been slower than others in gaining university recognition, but at last that is starting to change. However, even when it changes, those existing 8 million and many new recruits will still come to the role with different backgrounds. The key is whether they then appreciate the need for achieving professional status and recognition by studying for a formal accreditation.
Recognition and status is in our own hands
The opportunity for standards and consistency already exists. The only thing constraining growth in the status of contract managers is the speed with which the existing practitioner body adopts a common set of knowledge and methods. As IACCM this week welcomes its 60,000th member, we can proudly recognize all those who are now trained, certified and working within the framework of a defined contract management lifecycle. For the remainder, we look forward to welcoming you and providing momentum to your career journey!