Contract management is a difficult thing to master. It is a time-consuming activity fraught with complications that are usually costly one way or another. Whether you are procuring services or goods or delivering the same to a client, the principles of contract management remain the same.
Training for contract management is rarely provided in advance, and many managers find themselves tasked with contract management with little guidance or support. However, there are some guidelines that you can follow to maximise your efficacy.
Understand the Industry
It is inadvisable to manage a contract when you are unfamiliar with the discipline it relates to. If you are managing contracts outside of your area of expertise, make sure that you become as familiar as possible with the industry itself. There are likely to be specific terms and regulations that you should be aware of. In addition, if bidding for contracts, your prospective client is more likely to view your bid as credible if it is clear you are qualified and experienced in the subject matter.
Understand the Process
Although the nature of contracts varies greatly, they share core principles. Ensure you are familiar with these principles and what actions you may be required to take should problems arise. Very few contracts, particularly long-term contracts, run smoothly all of the time. By being prepared you will improve your efficiency, performance and confidence.
Your company may utilise a contract management system such as contractswise to aid their internal process. Contract management systems provide support that can be invaluable to your task and other free guidance is available. The National Audit Office offer a PDF download called Good Practice Contract Management Framework.
Exploit Your Support Structure
There may often be staff involved in the contract that can provide technical support to aid your understanding and management. Ensure that you avail yourself of their skills and expertise, and make sure that they are aware of your restrictions and limitations. As always, communication is key.
There are a number of certifications and training courses available on the subject of contract management, and it can only reflect well on an individual or company that chooses to adopt this route to better improve their performance. In addition, accreditation speaks volumes about your company’s commitment, professionalism and abilities to prospective clients.