Making it Less Painful with the Help of a Contracts Manager

Making it Less Painful with the Help of a Contracts Manager

Often acting as the subject matter expert and a single point of contact within your business is the contracts manager (or commercial manager). The role takes on various responsibilities working across all areas of the business and importantly managing the senior stakeholders as part of the contract management lifecycle.

It is simply more than just the administration and filing of contractual documents given that the contracts manager may need to facilitate the resolution of items such as insurance, tax, service levels, compliance, or I.T. onboarding issues in a contract. Even go further by supporting or developing any contract administrators.

Hopefully, the contracts managers can take each deal from the start to finish of a contract by easing the pain points such as legal review, and set the course for plain sailing.

Do you have contracts managers?

A contracts manager deals with other businesses’ customers, suppliers, or partners and and are part of   the contract or commercial management team consisting of contracts managers. Quite often the contracts managers may be engaged to review or request further input from other areas in the following way: –

Pre-contract

  • Pre-sales review (Terms and schedules).
  • Requirements capture or statement of works (SOW) review.
  • Fees, insurance, risk.
  • Contract negotiation.
  • Business case creation, risk review and approval.
  • Arranging contract signature.

Post contract

  • Service credits, set offs, governance.
  • Operational review, reporting, invoice.
  • Termination, notices.
  • Personal Data deletion requests.
  • Audits.

 

A bit more about the contracts managers role and responsibilities

Perhaps your business has an existing contract or commercial management function that uses standard templates which  contracts managers adopt as and when required. Alternatively, if your business handles several customer agreements or changes to standard terms which require a contracts manager to negotiate and manage this from end to end. A contracts manager also guides that sales and account team through the contractual risks along with the internal approval process prior to contract signature.

The majority of the contracts manager time is taken in dealing with complexities, larger deals, or deviations from standard terms.  Getting the requirements, responsibilities, fees structure, termination and liabilities are key major areas to focus on.

According to Forbes contracts need to “facilitated effective negotiation and prove valuable after execution,” when the agreement makes sense from end to end managing the business risk it is easier to do business.

Key terms management

Often the first port of call for sales, stakeholders or suppliers’ questions is the contracts managers. This may be around items such as termination, warranties, liabilities and so on and it the understanding of what has been signed up under the contract that provides the value to any business.  The contract manager with support from legal as when required may also be involved in some of these negotiations.

Stakeholder management

Is there a business case currently applied in your business? If there is one then this should capture all the points and any risks which are not aligned to the internal policies. Where a business case is needed then a contract manager can help to create one.

Before sending the business case ensure all items are dealt with and likely questions which arise around revenue recognition, risk, liabilities with avenues already taken are clearly explained. In line with the approval governance process of various delegated authorities regionally and globally the approvals should be sought.

Change control clauses and change control  

Contracts managers may pick up contracts post signature at the request from the business to assist with changes either to add or change services. Sometimes there may not be a change control clause or change control process covered under the contract. In such cases a contracts manager must consider alternatives. So, it is good practice with contracts prior to post signature to include a change control processes along with a change control clause in order to facilitate these types of requests.  Where there is such  a process already included this should follow as per the contract.

Supplier management processes

Working with the service delivery team the contract managers can jointly work on establishing a process to include in the contract to manage, monitor the customer pre-contract and post contract. Using methods that are recognised by the industry will include mechanisms to drive supplier improvements.  As the National Audit Office (NAO) says that the “best practices” do enable better contract management.

Contract management tools

With access to digital and online tools contracts will be filed, approved, and signed electronically to speed things up and make access available at fingertips.  There are a number of applications which make the sales to cash integration with the CRM software streamlined for the non-standard contracts changes where contracts manger or legal are required to make such changes.  According to the Aberdeen Group the automation of contract management lifecycle  “from creation to execution maximises performance”  helps to drive process efficiencies.

Legal or contract negotiation playbook or templates

Your contracts managers may have access internally to legal or contract negotiation playbook or templates to access at hand enabling them in progress with negotiations. Where there are items which are non-standard or where a business which may not necessarily have any  access to this collateral a contract manager can assist with this.

If you need help with on-site or remote contract or commercial management function, contracts manager or playbook  for your business then we’re happy to discuss this with you email us at info@certaintysolution.com or reach me on 07375 950 463.

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