A Contract Professional's Untold Story - Value!
We have had the opportunity to work with contract professionals in all parts of the world. While cultures and personal styles vary considerably, contract professionals show a common desire to introduce value into their respective organizations as they manage the complexities of contracts. And while they succeed in introducing value every day, that value frequently goes unrecognized. As a result, our beloved contract professionals often become corporate martyrs rather than corporate heroes.
What is a corporate martyr? A person who is so selfless on behalf of their organization that they compromise their own personal well-being for the sake of their businesses. The corporate martyr is typically a hardworking professional who suffers in silence when they could make their case with a few metrics and a conscious, proactive approach.
Conversely, the corporate hero brings heightened value to the table while maintaining integrity and a sense of balance.
We have found that many contract managers avoid martyrdom by representing their value proposition effectively and in different ways. Here are three focus areas that can transform contract managers into heroes.
You Are the Connector | Whether on the buy side or sell side, you serve as a primary business liaison for your organization. By establishing a trusted relationship with your trading partner, you are both a gatekeeper and an advance scout. Beyond your normally rigorous contract management function, it behooves you to pursue new opportunities and to proactively mitigate risk associated with the contracts. Invest time in the key partners to understand what drives them and how mutually advantageous and vested outcomes can be derived. This perspective is especially valued on the sell side where you may be able to open doors that otherwise were unknown or closed.
Your Metrics | For most organizations, getting contracts into a managed and centralized repository is a huge win. You need to take your game up a notch to have a more substantive and demonstrable impact. This means providing quantitative metrics on your performance. In terms of contracts, this typically translates into monetizing the opportunities that you have uncovered in your role as Connector. It also means quantifying risks that you have helped the organization to avoid and providing corresponding monetization figures. Ancillary metrics come into play such as contract consistency, amendment volume and team size/cost associated with the CLM process.
Benchmarks | Engaging with professional member associations such as IACCM or getting together on a regular basis with professional peers can prove invaluable when you need to provide your executives with data on comparable organizations. Executives are regularly looking at how they fare relative to their corporate peers, the Joneses next door. Provide executives with a grounded and quantitative way of comparing and interpreting results and it will make a difference in your own value proposition. In addition, speaking with confidence about the best practices employed by a respected competitor’s contract management team can help manage change in your own work group and give your own corporate leadership some needed insight.
On a final but no less important note, know your audience and calibrate accordingly. If your executive team is into the details, keep your figures and estimates conservative. If the team wants the big picture, stay away from the minutia, but have supporting details ready for when an explanation is required.
We often hear from contract managers who have adopted one or more of these approaches with success. Here’s hoping that these insights prove useful to you as well on the road from corporate martyr to corporate hero!