When it comes to winning business, are contract managers a liability or an asset?
Interview any group of sales people and you will receive mixed answers. For some, contract managers are a key area of support, facilitating internal reviews and ensuring the production or negotiation of a timely and appropriate agreement. For others, they are a source of problems, an obstacle to be avoided.
These divergent views reflect differences in approach, personality, skills, process and organizational culture. But what about the customer view? In general, do they prefer doing business with companies that have invested in contract managers?
In recent days, staff at IACCM have spoken with a number of large corporations about their experiences working with major providers of outsourcing and IT services. They appear to have little doubt about their preference – and they increasingly see organizations which lack trained contract management staff as unreliable and unprofessional.
One major financial services company made the point that it isn’t just about having people with the contract management job title – it is also about having them working with a consistent role and professional skills. In this context, they cited the value they have observed in personnel that undertook IACCM training and certification. Several went further and mentioned how helpful it is when the contract managers from both organizations have completed the IACCM programs because that creates a common understanding of approach and generally yields a far more positive outcome.
This should come as no surprise. Professions generally do not distinguish between personnel who work in customer versus supplier organizations. One reason that lawyers or finance professionals are often able to reach speedy resolution is because they speak the same language and had similar core training and education. It seems obvious that having buy side and sell side staff operating with a common body of knowledge will accelerate the speed and quality of contract closure and performance. But several of these interviews went further because they cited examples of companies that are making no investment in their development of a contract management function – and how increasingly they are starting to avoid doing business with such companies ‘because they can’t be trusted’.
So the message seems to be, if you want to win in the market, adopt a certified Contract Manager!