Contracts come in all shapes and sizes. You may not have realized this, but you’re likely already managing a contract; your cell phone plan. You probably looked at competitors in the market, the different phones and plans, the monthly cost, and the service area. When you chose your company, phone, and plan, you finalized the agreement and now pay your bills each month. Some of you look at your phone bill for accuracy, some of you just pay it. You know when your contract ends, whether by plan or phone payments, so you can decide if you want to stay with the same company, or just upgrade your phone. That’s contract management in a nutshell.
When it comes to business, contracts are much more complicated. Do you need to issue a Request for Information (RFI), followed by a Request for Proposal (RFP), or can you do sole-source contracts? Maybe you only have to get a few bids from competitors. This all depends on your organization and the governing rules. No matter the method, do you know for sure what to ask when looking at bids? Can you spot fuzzy answers from vendors? Did you know your response to a bid can be as much the contract as what your vendor says they can do for you? Just getting the contract together can be a very time-consuming process. This doesn’t even include the negotiations involved in finalizing a contract.
Once a contract is finalized, now you have to figure out what invoicing looks like, how to manage and track those invoices, when to identify you’re over budget or out of scope, how to manage your vendor’s work, and how to inspect and approve your vendors deliverables. The contract manager role is a huge responsibility because they are the guardians of the money and the oversight for the project. They work closely with the project manager, or others overseeing the work, and are the subject matter experts when staff have questions or concerns about the contractual obligations of the vendor. Your contract manager doesn’t need to be an attorney, but they need to know the laws regarding contract management and have a legal representative to consult with, when needed. Your contract manager should also be working closely with executives in your organization because decisions can make or break a budget. The contract manager needs to have open dialogue with those in a position to make decisions about the contract and money.
Not only is a contract manager filling many roles, they are also subject to laws and regulations themselves. What if your vendor brings cookies in for an afternoon meeting? This seems innocent enough, but depending on your organization, this can be an ethics violation. Ethics rules vary by state, but having a contract manager who knows the rules for your organization and state can help keep you out of hot water.
Having someone fill a contract manager role, whether as part of their job duties or full time, can be a great benefit for your company. You may have someone on staff already who would be a great fit, but who has little experience. Or you may want to hire a dedicated contract manager, but don’t really have the experience yourself to find the right candidate. Hiring experienced consultants who can help guide you in the process can set you and your staff up for success. The consultants at In Your Corner Consulting, LLC. have experience with large and small contracts. We have the skills you need to put you on the path to success.