What does it take to be an effective contract manager in today’s business landscape? In addition to a lot of hard work and the right attitude, it’s also beneficial to learn the ins and outs of both your industry and your company’s contracting process.
Below are four tips to help the modern contract manager succeed in this often challenging role.
1. Develop the right professional strengths
While there are contract management certification programs you can go through, the most important factor in your success as a contract manager will be how you perform in real-life scenarios. Below are some of the most important personality traits and strengths of contract managers.
Attention to detail: Modern business contracts can stretch into hundreds of pages, which means that attention to detail is a must for would-be contract managers. Being attentive will help you catch make-or-break issues that would have otherwise gone unnoticed: missing punctuation, an incorrect number, an internal contradiction within the contract, etc.
Good time management: In order to stay on top of your deadlines and milestones, good time management is essential for contract managers. The rate of work is often variable and unpredictable, which means that you’ll need to plan ahead and fulfill your obligations well in advance.
Strong organization skills: Similarly, being well-organized will serve you well in your duties as a contract manager. Over the course of a contract’s lifetime, you will need to implement, monitor, and potentially adjust or renew the agreement in order to achieve the desired business outcomes. Having strong organization skills ensures that you can manage this litany of responsibilities effectively.
2. Communicate and collaborate
One of the most important responsibilities of contract managers is to translate the complex, formal language of business contracts so that everyone in the organization can understand it. This includes being familiar with the “legalese” and boilerplate language that’s so common in business contracts. Being able to clearly communicate and make arguments to key stakeholders such as managers and executives will give you the best chance of success as a contract manager.
While contract managers assume a great deal of responsibility on their own, they can’t do their jobs alone. Behind every good contract manager is a dedicated team of professionals who all have strong working relationships and who are all committed to the cause. As such, good leadership is an essential contract management skill. In particular, traits such as strong problem-solving skills and adaptability to new and unexpected situations will serve you well in your role as a contract manager.
3. Become both a company and industry expert
As a contract manager, the more you know about your industry and your organization, the more valuable you become. Gaining contract management experience allows you to build up institutional knowledge that helps you and your team excel in your roles.
Some of the things you'll need to know as a contract manager include:
The organization itself, including its lines of business, its competitors, its key markets, and the current business landscape.
The organization's customers and vendors who constitute the most valuable contract partners.
The organization's standard contract management process, including the individual stages and activities involved in each one.
The organization's regulatory environment.
The most effective metrics and KPIs to measure the success of your contract management workflow.
4. Embrace technology
In many cases, modern business contracts are more complex and convoluted than any one person can keep track of. Additionally, every contract comes with its own set of deadlines and deliverables, so managing any sizable contract portfolio without help from technology can be incredibly challenging. To help with these tasks, a growing number of organizations are turning to dedicated contract management software.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a tech wizard to use contract management software. In fact, these platforms aim to simplify and streamline the contract management process, making your job exponentially easier. Once you find and implement a contract management solution that solves your biggest problems in the contract management process, you can spend less time on tedious tasks and more time on higher-value legal department work.