At the recent International Association of Contract and Commercial Managers (IACCM) conference in Phoenix, Arizona, hundreds of senior contract and legal professionals from across the country gathered to discuss how to deliver contract and commercial capabilities in a changing environment.
One of the featured presentations was provided by an IBM client – the lead contract administrator at a Fortune 500 mining and metals company. The presenter discussed what it takes to optimize the contract management function at a global company. She noted that she was hired to re-engineer the contracting process at this global company during a time of tremendous growth and change in the mining industry.
Her presentation focused on the technology, people and process required for optimization of the contract process and provided three key tips for success. She recommended putting a focus on:
- Technology: Technology is a key enabler of contract management optimization;
- People: However, remember it’s not all about technology. People are the critical component. Gain consensus for change – and get the right people involved to enable that change;
- Process: Finally, map and engineer your ideal process, but never stop optimizing the process.
She advised that “contract management technology is highly flexible and configurable. As you learn what the solution is capable of, you want to use it for more and more functions. However, you have to focus in on the most important objectives. You must remember that technology can be a lever for change, but you still have to manage change. And getting people to change their daily habits can be a challenge.”
She cautioned, “Be thoughtful about people and processes. Don’t automate just to automate. Make sure the solution and process make people more productive.”
She recommended getting people from all the core affected business units to participate in the process design and roll out: “Who do you want involved? People from sourcing, procurement, commercial and sales, to name a few.”
As far as process is concerned, she recommended “mapping the current processes even if it is not technically or fully being executed. Then map your ideal process. Aim for your ideal, but be realistic about how people operate.”
She continued, “At every stage of the process, ask yourself, ‘does automation simplify this activity?’ If so, automate it. Use the process review to get everyone across the organization on the same page to get their buy in. We found a lot of global variation in processes. It was difficult to come to a consensus (on process), but it was possible and it was helpful, particularly when it came to implementation.”
Finally, she concluded, “Process change doesn’t and shouldn’t stop. Improvement is a continuous processes. You should always be tweaking, you should always be optimizing.”
For more information on optimizing contract management to deliver value to the global business, visit http://www.rethinkyourcustomer.com/legal/