Gene Perret once said: “Education can get you the only thing that really matters in today’s world — an assigned parking space.”
When we talk about a contract manager career, formal education is, by all means, essential. But if you complement your college degree with self-education, you can get much more. We’ll help you with that, suggesting some contract management resources.
How can I become a better contract manager?
You probably wondered at least once: “When should I study if one-third of my life is spent at work? All I want after a working day is to grab a beer and relax.” We understand this. We feel your pain.
But we also know that learning new things is much easier if you choose the proper approach and resources. Let’s look at what you can do.
Have some alone time
Get comfortable, turn the lights down, play some relaxing music, and… pick up a book. Few things can give you as much knowledge as a well-written book based on research, facts, and real-life cases.
We’ll leave it up to you to find the right one for your industry, but we’ll take the risk of recommending a couple on contract management in general.
The first book on our TBR list is the Contract Management Body of Knowledge, published by the National Contract Management Association (NCMA). It’s probably the most comprehensive guide on contract management terminology, practices, policies, and processes.
Number two on our list is Practical Tips on How to Contract by Laura Frederick. The title says it all. In this handbook, Laura shares her first-hand experience managing contracts for large international companies.
Besides, industry leaders often self-publish e-books to share their expertise with their audience. Some of them are available for free. For example, you can download a free copy of Contracts 101: Your Guide to Most Common Legal Templates by AXDRAFT. All you have to do is leave your email address.
Keep your hands (and mind) busy
That dreaded daily commute or waiting in line to see your GP might actually be good for your new self-education habit. At that time, your brain and hands are idle. Why not put them to good use and read a professional blog?
You have a whole variety of options to choose from. Why not check out the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium blog, a free resource with hundreds of articles on streamlining legal processes? Or follow the blogs of a few established contract management companies. There are dozens of them, our company included. If you’re reading our blog, you already know that AXDRAFT offers dozens of informative articles to polish your contract management skills.
Make it halfway down
If you find blogs too flippant and books too long, go for something in between — contract management magazines and journals. Research-driven, they will give you a thorough overview of the latest trends backed up by facts and figures. Journal of Contract Management is one of the professional outlets we wholeheartedly recommend.
Craving for more? Search for stand-alone articles with a narrow focus, for example, on lawyering or supplies. Procure Search is an excellent resource.
Run, Forest, run!
Or squat. Or do push-ups. And listen to podcasts. Hit the Play button on your smartphone or slide it into the treadmill holder to watch YouTube videos.
There’s enough content to fit any needs, from general contract management topics to highly specialized issues. For example, the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply covers both procurement-specific questions and the overall contract management cycle on its YouTube channel.
Olga V. Mack often invites industry experts to her Notes To My (Legal) Self podcast to talk about contract management and the future of contracts.
The Voice of Contract Management, another podcast run by the NCMA, addresses nearly every trend and question you might have as a professional. So choose whatever you like to “pump up” your brain while pumping up your body.
Steal like an artist!
No, it’s not a call for piracy. We only drop you a hint at a great source of new ideas and inspiration for your projects — case studies.
Almost any company describes successful cases of software adoption or service delivery on their websites. You can find them helpful. Common contract management patterns and schemes work most of the time—you only need to adjust the details. The more case studies you explore, the easier it’ll be for you to find a suitable solution for a challenging task.
Become more extroverted
Many introverts have probably flinched, but no worries: you don’t have to hang out with other managers all day long. All you need is to join the contract management association.
A contract management organization is a one-stop shop for valuable resources and contacts. It gives you all the resources described above in one place and with quality assurance. For example, NCMA membership lets you apply for its contract management certification, courses, and webinars. You can also subscribe to the association’s journal (for free!) and blog. What’s more, you get a chance to participate in its Annual World Conference to network and share your experience.
Most associations operate similarly: paying a member fee gives you almost unlimited access to knowledge, expertise, and resources to develop your contract management skills.
You only have to decide what you need: a global organization with thousands of members like the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM) or a more specialized one like the Supply Chain Management Association (SCMA).
Each of the self-education methods and resources we listed can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to a couple of hours of your free time a day. But turning it into a habit, you will quickly move from skills gap to skill surge. Remember to get some rest, though: a super smart but irritated and tired employee isn’t the best candidate for a fruitful relationship with their employer and colleagues.
You don’t have to slave away for years to become the best contract manager around — the Internet offers tons of resources to be consumed on the go. Blogs, magazines, articles, books, podcasts, and videos are all there to help you hone your skills and stay on top of things. They are budget-friendly, too, and don’t take the whole evening, unlike paid courses.
But if you’re up to paid options, webinars, workshops, and conferences are your go-to. The easiest way to access all these resources is to join a contract management association. It’s your single point of contact for the know-how and experience of hundreds of people in exchange for a reasonable fee.
Whatever you choose, ultimately, you’ll see that learning new things is quite easy and fun.
A great contract manager is a professional with strong technical and interpersonal skills, including:
- Knowledge of a contract lifecycle and understanding of business processes
- Tech savviness and innovative thinking
- Solid project management skills
- Excellent communication skills
- Ability to inspire and manage changes
To become a better contract manager, you need to work on your skills, in particular:
- embrace technology
- improve communication skills
- explore the latest trends
- take on challenging tasks and find solutions
A contract analyst should have the following competencies:
- attention to details
- excellent writing skills and ability to express yourself clearly
- solid time-management skills
Four components of contract management are:
- contract drafting
- negotiation of details
- execution of obligations
- storage of current and previous agreements