Contract Management – What Does it Take to Be a Contract Manager?
Contract managers work to make sure contracts move quickly from creation to execution. They are responsible for ensuring compliance, preventing revenue leakage from disorganized contracts and mitigating risk.
It’s a juggling act that keeps businesses afloat, and these folks are the maestros. They start their day with a deep dive into current contracts and review upcoming renewals and negotiated projects.
Contract management work requires a good understanding of contracts and the law. Having a law degree is helpful for gaining an edge in this field, but it’s not mandatory. Certification is available from the National Contract Management Association (NCMA).
The contract management process encompasses a variety of activities, including negotiating terms and conditions, creating templates that are reused and managing and storing all contracts. This is a complex workflow that often requires multiple stakeholders and systems. It also involves the aforementioned deadlines and stressful negotiations, with both parties trying to strike a deal that is mutually beneficial.
Contract managers must also ensure that all contracts are up to date and negotiated as needed. This activity is known as end of term processing, and it can have significant consequences if not handled properly. Fortunately, digital contracting solutions provide the means to automate and streamline all contracts. From making to managing and storing, these platforms make it easier to collaborate, negotiate, track and understand all contracts, from the simplest to the most complex.
A contract manager has to have a certain level of education in order to be competent in their role. Most positions require a bachelor’s degree. This can be obtained through a variety of ways, including a degree program that has been sanctioned by an accredited university or college.
Some positions in the field may also require a masters degree. This is often the case for those who will work with contracts that involve the government or other entities with unique requirements. A contract management degree program will prepare graduates for a variety of different roles in the industry.
It is also common to find people with a contract management degree who seek professional certification to aid in their career path. This can be done through an online program that is specifically designed for contract management professionals or those who have a degree in another subject and want to add contract management skills to their career options.
Contract managers must be able to manage contracts through their full life cycle. This is a complex task and requires strong organizational skills. Additionally, contract management work often involves a significant amount of data analysis, which can be challenging for those who do not have the right tools.
Another critical aspect of contract management is negotiating, and that requires an ability to read the nuanced signals from a vendor or supplier and determine which concessions may be worthwhile. A good contract manager will be able to structure an agreement that provides a vested outcome for all parties while protecting the company’s interests.
Finally, a good contract manager will keep abreast of changing internal policies and standard clauses, as well as agency-specific guidelines. This is an area where contract management software can be very helpful, with features such as automated redlining capabilities and version tracking. These capabilities can help ensure that the proper document is being used, and that everyone is working from the same set of documents.
Contract managers work with business stakeholders to create, analyze, and execute contracts that increase operational and financial performance while reducing risks. This role requires a strong blend of technical skills and business acumen.
Contract management is a continuous process, encompassing both the pre-award and post-award phases. The pre-award phase involves negotiating with potential suppliers and partners, while the post-award stage involves overseeing the terms and conditions of the contract agreement to ensure that all parties are meeting their obligations.
Contract managers also frequently interact with in-house and outside counsel to negotiate contract language. Their insight and fortitude can provide attorneys with significant value, as they assist with establishing the stage for negotiations and help optimize contract language. These activities can be very time-consuming and require an efficient, automated contract management workflow to support them.