As businesses engaged in high volume contracting know, there is so much more to managing a contract portfolio than merely monitoring a calendar. In the past, contract management often entailed an administrative role, but with an increasingly complex global economy and competitive business landscape, that is no longer the case. Now, savvy contract managers focus on improving performance and utilizing contract data to anticipate potential issues, improve a company’s margins, and even secure business. After all, with the evolution of technology, many of the tactical facets of contract management can be handled in an automated fashion, so contract managers are able to take an increasingly strategic approach to the management process.
Unfortunately, for many companies, contract managers still struggle to have their work and input integrated into the company’s daily operations and overall strategy. Much of this stems from a simple lack of understanding of a contract manager’s role, as well as inadequate communication among departments. Here are three strategies for contract managers to improve communication and better align a company’s contract portfolio with the business’s goals and objectives:
Insist on an Ongoing Dialogue
In some companies, it can be difficult for contract managers to schedule time with busy leaders to update them on the progress or problems associated with different contracts. However, to effectively oversee the portfolio and ensure that the existing contract processes accurately reflect and augment the company’s intentions, contract managers must have regular and consistent access to key decision makers. Contract managers are often in the best position to assess market trends and identify potential areas for expansion, and thus need to be able to quickly convey this information when necessary.
Depending on the size and scope of a company’s contract portfolio, there should be an ongoing dialogue, with updates occurring monthly, at a minimum. Ideally, there will be more communication and collaboration than that, as frequent oversight will ensure that contract managers can stay ahead of any issues and immediately jump on attractive opportunities.
Be a Partner Not a Liasion
There is a common misconception that contract managers merely serve as a liaison between their company and the other parties to the company’s contracts. Although facilitating communication between the two is important, contract managers must also play a part in the formulation of company strategy and budgeting. And, the contract management process must be an integrated component of the business strategy in order for companies to take full advantage of potential opportunities. Thus, contract managers must be viewed as a partner and should have a voice during strategy and financial planning meetings.
Align Activities and Strategies
A contract manager that is heavily involved in a company’s planning and execution of its strategy will have the knowledge needed to think about the company’s risk concerns and identify avenues for growth. In addition, the contract management process must be factored into quality assessments and project management carried out by other departments to ensure congruency with systems and procedures. Ultimately, the contract manager’s role and the contract management process must be aligned with the activities and strategies of every component of the business to optimize operations and outcomes.