Corridor Company, the leading provider of Contract Management Software powered by the SharePoint and Microsoft Office 365 platforms, had the distinct pleasure of hosting the IACCM Boston Chapter Conference on Thursday, March 17, 2016 at Corridor Company’s Corporate Headquarters in Wakefield, Massachusetts. For those of you who are unaware, IACCM, also known as the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management, is the world’s leading professional organization and expert in Contract Management. Given IACCM’s industry status and the many companies in attendance, this was both an honor and pleasure for us at Corridor Company.
As a fresher face to Corridor Company, this was my first IACCM meeting, and my first opportunity to meet the well reputed IACCM President and CEO, Tim Cummins. An avid reader and a planner-at-heart, I prepared for my first Tim Cummins’ encounter by thoroughly reviewing his blog, Commitment Matters. If you aren’t familiar with his blog, I’d highly recommend you take a few minutes to check it out. As you read through his entries, you gain a heightened sense of Tim not only as a leader, but also as an innovator. His writing style, ability to anticipate and answer questions which his pieces inspire, and expert facilitation skills result in both thought provoking and thoroughly educational pieces.
As our meeting started and Tim entered the conference room, he immediately gained the attention of all those in attendance. My anticipation and excitement over our first meeting were well merited as his presentation and subsequent discussion materials did not disappoint. He opened his discussion by reviewing contract and commercial management and commercial management as a basis platform to breed success and innovation. More specifically:
“Commercial Management is the activity which defines the overarching policies and practices that provide a framework for trading relationships." “Contract Management is the discipline through which those policies and practices are implemented and within which individual transactions are agreed and performed."
As Tim explained, understanding the relationship between Commercial and Contract Management and how Contract Management feeds off Commercial Management is fundamental to the industry. Commercial Management is a foundation through which organizations can build successful partner relationships and adhere to business and compliance standards. This involves working as part of a collaborative effort where teamwork and trust is persistent throughout the entire organization. Honesty is an effective way to start. This was something that Tim couldn’t stress enough as he educated the Boston Chapter on ways to better manage contracts. An honest and collaborative environment mitigates risk and ensures that contract management proceeds successfully.
Throughout the remainder of his presentation, he stressed three central themes: Collaboration, Reputation, and Risk. Each term serves a clear and attributable purpose to the dynamic world of contract management.
Collaboration: A Key to contract management is the concept of collaboration. Betsy Burton of Gartner, the leader in Technology Research, defines collaboration as “People working together on non-routine cognitive work. This activity is about behavior, work habits, culture, management, and business goals and value." Tim defines collaboration as “building a shared commitment to achieving outcomes." Contract management, at its core, is focused on collaboration and teamwork at every stage of the contract lifecycle. The individuals involved in negotiating the contract need to collaborate in order to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. Those involved in the creation, approval, and management of the contract also need to work together closely and effectively to ensure that the contracts proceeds through the organization in an efficient manner.
Reputation: An organization is nothing without its reputation. An ongoing commitment towards excellence and outstanding customer service should be two areas of focus for any company. Tim emphasized trust when managing the day to day handling of contracts. When you allocate duties and responsibilities in this process, you need to do so knowing that you have the best people in place to facilitate its success. Christopher Elliott, a contributor to CBS Money Watch, believes that reputation management is all about avoiding business disasters. Disaster is defined differently within different organizations. A disaster in the restaurant industry is likely far different from one in the construction industry. Disasters in the areas of contract management are numerous – and can occur in all phases of a contract’s lifecycle. An improper review of a contract has potential catastrophic downstream effects. Failure to deliver on contractual obligations can also prove disastrous. In the world of contract management, it is vital to put in place both the proper resources as well as supporting processes to ensure that disasters are mitigated, outstanding client service is delivered, and reputations are kept intact.
Risk: Risk is something that doesn’t go away. A key to risk mitigation is the establishment of order, and ongoing goal planning. According to the Wall Street Journal, goals should be implemented and monitored within an organization to track progress. The Journal also adds that the only way goals can be achieved is if everyone clearly understands their target objectives and works together as part of a unified effort. In the world of contract management, it is imperative for all contract team members to have clear target objectives and a list of goals which they hope to achieve in proactively managing their organization’s contracts.