Hi Lawal, you raise a question that is frequently asked and the answer is it depends. In some organizations the titles are used interchangeably but in others they very different roles. Not to further add to the confusion but we are seeing a new role - the Commercial Excellence professional - emerge.
You might find Tim Cummin's recent blog on this topic useful:
I am seeing the terms used interchangeably. If I was picking a title for a job now in 2015, as "commercial excellence" is becoming a discussion point, I would pick Commercial Manager as having an implication of a greater opportunity to influence and innovate across a broader spectrum of the contract management lifecycle.
• Australian Taxation Office
I much prefer the title "Commercial Manager" and to actually be a commercial manager rather than a contract manager. Many people though (not me!) do use the titles as meaning the same thing. To me, they describe very different disciplines. An example - some time ago I had discussions with our telecommunications provider about the charge (fixed) for putting a fibre link into our buildings. The contract made it the same price, whether we wanted a single lead-in or a dual lead-in (they also had to be in physically diverse paths). My view was that the contract was very clear. However, the provider was able to demonstrate quite clearly that they were barely covering their costs for a single lead-in, and actually losing money for dual lead-ins. The 'contract manager' view would likely be "well, the contract is clear"; whereas the broader 'commercial manager' (much more commercially savvy) view was "OK, the contract is clear, but it also clearly doesn't make any sense and we need to fix that to keep our relationship on a proper commercial basis". To my mind, taking the broader commercial view tends to promote much better commercial relationships than the narrower "contract view"...
Mike, good example. Not to put words into your mouth but do you believe Commercial Managers are better at using business judgment? In your example it sounds like contract managers are responsible for 'enforcing' the contract -- a compliance role vs. a business relationship role.
• Raytheon Systems Limited
Working in the defence industry, we tend to use the term 'commercial' manager as this aligns to terminology used by UK MoD. Our colleagues in the US call the same people 'contracts' managers so at least in our case the terms are used interchangeably.
• I-Mage Z Pty Limited
I must admit to significant confusion over the terms (driven, I suspect, by limited professional recognition for either). My current employer carries the two roles and the functions are distinctly different. The Commercial Manager ensures an optimal commercial outcome (including during negotiations) whereas the Contract Manager has responsibility across compliance (corporate and statutory), risk, contract approval (the corporate agreement to be legally bound), and legal matters: In other words (if we were to put academic/professional qualifications behind both roles) the Commercial Manager would be a CPA/CA whereas the Contract Manager would be trained in Law.
In my humble opinion, because there is no 'yardstick' for what a Commercial Manager or Contract Manager does (that is, it is employer-dependent) I'm sure that the appropriateness of the title would be determined by the job description.
In my company, all contract commercials are handled (negotiated) by the Sourcing organization. They are then handed off to the Contracting Center of Excellence to be incorporated into the contract. The Contracting Center of Excellence drafts and negotiates the contract. The folks in the Contracting CoE are not all lawyers. However, lawyers are required to review and bless each contract prior to execution (and along the way, as needed).
Bryan Johnson, Yale University, and I are in the process of moving forward on the mentoring initiative with IACCM. You will be seeing articles on mentoring, there will be an "Ask the Expert" segment, as well as, a constant communication of new and innovative ideas in mentoring to increase the knowledge and skills of the contract management discipline.
• Learn and Change
But please let's remember mentors are far more than being a friendly voice who, for example gives career advice.
1) Mentors need training guidance on the process variables
2) The on-going mentoring process needs managing.
If not then there is a 80% failure rate.
How do I know = experience with mentoring schemes, some of which, I had to choose to withdraw from before they failed (and they did, despite the initial "good" intentions)
For contract management, I would focus on two major streams of growth - training in what I would call "hard" knowledge (e.g. regulations, laws, procurement methodologies) and "soft" knowledge (e.g. negotiation skills acquired over time, best practices, and management skills). Ideally you would be guided in both areas. I think the latter stream is tougher to achieve.
• Yale University
Thank you for your input. I agree that the "soft" knowledge is an area that guidance needs to be provided as it is easier to guide with the "hard" knowledge. I thank you for your input on Mentoring systems.
• First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company
I agree with Edward's approach. The hard knowledge can be achieved throught IACCM certification and continuing education through webinars and conferences. The soft knowledge can be achieved through job shadowing and approaching complicated negotiations with a first chair/ second chair strategy where the mentee acts as the second chair and can learn from the senior experienced person (first chair) during the negotiations (how to plan, how to do the negotiation, how to involve the appropriate stakeholders etc). I have used the first chair/ second chair approach successfully for a few years and have gotten great results.
• Yale University
I like the first chair/second chair approach but you are assuming the Mentor/Mentee are working for the same company (unless you are conducting say virtual training). It would appear that the soft skills would need to be the focus of any mentoring program, so vetting potential Mentor's becomes all the more important. I appreciate your feedback.
• Hewlett-Packard Company
A friend and former boss now works at AT&T, which has a great mentoring program. She has been mentored by some very high level people over the past few years. I don't think it's incredibly formal, but I know that they do schedule regular sessions and also rotate through mentors. Through her experience in the program, she knows which areas in which she needs to gain experience in order to get to the upper management layer. I think it's important to include a real discussion of desired outcomes. At HP, we have different ways to access other expertise, but at least in the legal group we have a very clear mandate to push ourselves by learning about new areas. Some of us are given the opportunity to be designated resources in certain areas in order to improve our overall outcomes and efficiency. I am responsible to identify ways to gain more information and experience in my assigned areas. Our goal is to minimize the number of cycles we spin when addressing these recurring issues. Above all, being a Silicon Valley company, we are encouraged to pick up the phone and reach out to the formal experts in the department should we want to gain experience in new areas. These examples really do require a cultural dynamic of openness and a desire for self improvement. The Office of the General Counsel at HP literally has a mandate from our GC to work toward becoming the best corporate legal department anywhere. Obviously that's a very tough standard, but it does keep us on our toes.
The Manitowoc Company (Manitowoc Cra...
Hi, reading your post, I share your concern. In less than a handful of job ads I saw over the last few years, a membership with IACCM was a requirement, let alone having obtained a certification from IACCM. I'm a lawyer myself, having made the transition a few years ago without even being a member. This is not to discredit the program altogether, by no means, and the fees are not that high. Based on my experience, your legal background is a bonus by itself if you play this card well. I suggest you sign up for some educational sessions on the commercial components of what makes a good contracts manager. For obvious reasons employers would pick a commercial manager over a contracts manager anytime.
However, if you have the time to do it, you might want to look into this. Certainly no guarantee for a job or the one thing that makes you stand from competitor applicants. A lot of employers have never heard of IACCM and therefore will not give much about a certification.
Good luck with the transition.
Thanks for your response. You just echoed my travails in this transition of mine. Following up on your suggestion of educational sessions, do you have specific ones you can recommend or perhaps, broad areas of experience that might be useful.
Hi again, I believe you will need brush up on your knowledge about financial considerations in a business transaction. Depending on the area of law you have been working in thus far, this may come easy to you, or not. Not necessarily promoting IACCM literature,their Contract and Commercial Management Operational Guide (from their IACCM Series) is quite good. Good value for money.There are several chapters on the commercial aspects of a deal and that is really what an employer is looking for. There is another book out called 'Finance for Non-Financial Managers' by Gene Siciliano. Quick read and affordable when you buy it used. I'd see whether you can sign up for a course around that topic, or talk to people you know who work as contracts managers. Ask questions on this forum or follow debates. Some employers have experience in financial risk assessment in their job posting, so be alerted for that requirement. Again, not knowing what kind of law you have been practising, I'd start there.
Hi, many thanks for your suggestions and help. I will definitely brush up on my financial knowledge as I previously worked in-house in a telecoms company and mostly had to deal with technical contracts and general issues within the company like HR and litigation. I try to attend the webinars from IACCM and read some of the resource docs in their library. Fingers crossed!
Every profession has recognised qualifications; so these are the ones to go for. I was therefore delighted to come across a survey (SC World Chief Supply Chain Officer Survey 2013) who asked the question to CSCO professionals: 'In terms of association certifications, as markers of supply chain talent, please name your top 3, where 1=most valuable'. The professional's results are as below:
Top 3 USA certifications
APICS (CPIM/CSCP) 1st
SCC (SCOR Professional) 2nd and since the survey, SCC amalgamated with APICS
ISM (CPSM/CSM/CPSD) 3rd
Top UK certifications
CIPS (MCIPS/FCIPS) 6th
CILT (MCILT/FCIPS) 7th
Others mentioned were 4th PMI Certifications, 5th CSCMP, 8th HACCP, 9th SCMP (Canada) and 10th CMA; which cover the subjects of Project Management (PMI), Supply Chain (CSCMP), Hazard Analysis etc (HACCP) and Accountancy (CMA)
I appreciate this is on Supply Chain and not just on procurement/contracting but it is a useful indication and may well further further research on content etc to meet your needs.
Hi, thanks for the info on supply chain certifications. I haven't checked these, but worth looking at.
International Trade Law is quite broad and so, you might find a general one by Indirra Carr good. However, Sale of Goods and Services might require you to be jurisdiction specific so as to find one that meets your needs. Do you have a particular region in mind?
Many Thanks Medinat, I shall look up the suggestion, Regarding the Jurisdiction, I'm interested in the area of Global telecommunication, for all regions.
• APL Norway AS
As a starting point, try www.iclg.co.uk/index.php short summaries but covers all regions.
Thank you very much for the link, this will be very useful indeed.
• Trans Engineering Solution
International Trade Law as a subject would combine a set of binding conventions and soft law. The first category would include the 1980 UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (applicable unless excluded in the contract and if neither international private law of the countries the parties belong to leads to its application), then the 1955 Convention on the sale of goods (when ratified and materially applicable) and so on. In terms of soft law, you should consider reviewing the Incoterms, the EU Common Frame of reference, The 1985 UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, the UNICTRAL 1976 Arbitration Rules, the Uniform Customs Practice for Documentary Credit, the UNIDROIT principles of international commercial contracts and the Principles of Eu contracts.
There are several providers of quality auditors training, for example Lloyds Register Quality Assurance (LRQA) offer similar services to BSI. Or are you looking for auditing training that is more contracts - specific? Perhaps IACCM have a recommendation in this case?