I completed a law degree back in 1998, about to commence my LPC I attended a careers fair and discovered commercial and contract management as a career path, the chap explained in simplest terms that it was about "managing the relationship so lawyers were NOT engaged!" Bingo. In the bin went the LPC and I joined that company as a graduate entrant - and that's what I would recommend to you. Of course there are IACCM certification routes to study but I recommend you get your foot on the ladder because whilst a law degree (or any other course) will equip you for the role its experience that counts.
I agree with the previous post - just start applying for jobs! Your law degree will in most cases be seen as positive, though be sensitive to what the employer wants from its contract managers. Most will value your understanding of the law, but they do not want someone who plans to act only in this capacity. So you should emphasize your broader interest in business, your skills at analysis and communication, your eagerness to tackle commercial issues. Your awareness of IACCM should help and you might consider reading either of our recent publications - Fundamentals of Contract & Commercial Management or the Operational Guide to Contract & Commercial Management. These will increase your awareness and understanding of the role and how it differs from a purely legal perspective of contracts.
Thanks both, I've made a few applications so far and I will continue to do so. The only issue is finding suitable roles advertised. I think I am going to start making speculative applications and see if I get any bites. I'll order Fundamentals of Contract & Commercial Management for a bit of bedtime reading also.
Here - Here! I know this reflects exactly what my company looks like at the top. Let alone the missing persons of color at the top -there are absolutely NO women in the Executive Leadership Group. In my experience, I note that women who do break through the "glass ceiling" (so to speak), are often not reaching back to pull up other capable women. It seems once one makes it into the club, it is very unpopular to help others get to where they are. I am always looking for female mentors and coming up empty handed in the end.
Of course we recomend the IACCM Contract Management course which covers the lifecylcle of a contract. See the information under the Traning and certification tab. If in transition and can't afford the online modules, then the Contract and Commercial Management: The Operational Guide in the store is a good alternative.
I think that the IACCM program is both convenient and cost effective in comparison to some other options. It would give you a basic understanding of the major concerns in our field on the first trip through the program and, if you spent some additional time with the materials, would provide a large amount of useful reference material to which you could return later.
There are a few US-focused programs available outside of IACCM. I believe that they are more costly. I looked into them several years ago, but ended up going with IACCM when I joined Ericsson, since we are aligned with IACCM. I can truly say that it was the best option and I have benefited overall from my association with IACCM.
Don't forget the many issues discussed on this forum. There is input here from practitioners from North America, Europe, India, China, and other places.
• Sutherland Global Services
Certainly agree with Mark and Edward.
Please go through the same.
• TECHNIP INDIA LIMITED
IACCM on-line program is the ideal solution for your training & practicing needs. No doubt about that.
Agreed with you all that choosing IACCM certifications is good choice. If somebody can share tips for preparing the skills assessment report and exams for CCME certification. In case you would like to email to me, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
How much engineering expertise is actually required? The context here is important.
Most contract management, drafting, and negotiation does not focus on technical issues. To the extent that technical issues are the subject of a discussion, a CM is usually not trying to solve an engineering problem and if a CM is trying to overcome a technical hurdle, then the product management team (if seller) or technical lead (if buyer - this could be your Contracts Engineer) usually will be involved. If the company is on the small side, it might be easier to have a single person to own the technical and general contractual aspects. Alternatively, if the contracts are very highly specialized, the combined role also could be advantageous, provided that a company can find the right personnel for the job.
In general, contract management activities can be broken down into something like the following phases:
The CM is going to spend most of his or her time on the first two phases. Those phases typically require the following tasks:
Drafting (one side starts from its template, usually be agreement in advance)
Negotiation (phone, other conference tool, or face to face)
Final review and signature
Handover to implementation team
I certainly agree that some understanding of the technical or basic product information is helpful in these steps. However, I disagree with the idea that a detailed understanding of the technical aspects is vital to creating a good contract, that is, unless there are no independent technical resources in the company to "own" these aspects. (Note my comments above.)
I'm not sure that a standard exists for a "Contracts Engineer", but I would guess that (s)he would be a person who "owns" the technical aspects of what the seller is selling to customersr or, if the CE represents the buyer instead of the seller, the person resopnsible to manage what is being procured by the buying company. The CE for the buyer would ensure that the company is procuring the best solution for the job and that the solution aligns with all the technical requirements of the company. The CE for the seller would help the Contracts and Sales teams to create the appropriate contract including all the necessary risk mitigations and commercial terms, taking into account the customer's specifications and solution capabilities.
If someone else has a better idea, I would of course defer to their experience with a Contract Engineer role. I would just close by adding that I've found the most successful contract negotiations to be those where multiple representatives were involved to support the company's neogiation objectives. This team works best by following the steps outlined in the IACCM training program, including formulation of a negotiation strategy and identifying business critical aspects before picking up the phone or sitting down at the conference table. Remember that most aspects of a commercial contract are in fact commercial in nature.
It is a very interesting question and Edward is right, it depends to a large extent on the business drivers and expectations of value from contract management.
It sounds like the history in your company is that contract work has been seen as an administrative support to project management. As complexity grows, the focus is perhaps on raising the contracts staff to a higher level of proficiency, but it is being assumed that they need greater technical skills, hence the term 'engineer'.
At other companies, Contract Management willoften be on the same level as Project Management, or will be quite distinct because it seeks to ensure thtere are strong commercial skills to complement those of the project manager (who is usually from a technical background).
Of course I do not know what skill set your project managers generally have and therefor ewhere the major gaps are today.
We have guidance on typical contract manager role and can send this to you if it will be helpful.
Thank you for your responses. Within our company (oil&gas), day-to-day contract management is performed by the project managers. When it comes to contract review and redlining (being contract or subcontract) this is done by our legal counsels.
I am currently setting up a function profile for contract manager within our company as I would see it. I have already gained lots of information from the IACCM website, and also from job vacancies I find on the worldwide web and through conversations with our project managers. That is where the question arose contract manager or contract engineer.
As our project become larger, I firmly believe that adding a contract manager as a separate role within the company will have added value. In our company (the way our projects are set up) they will most likely form part of the project team leaded by the project manager, having responsibility for variation orders, subcontracting, making sure the project complies with the contract requirements etc.
The reason for the title contract engineer does not have anything to do with technical expertice (therefore we have project engineers and specialist engineers when required). It has to do with the fact that a contract manager has to have a certain seniority and expertise. The contract engineer would basically have the same function profile, but less experience.
Let me put it differently: how many years of experience should a contract manager has? Do jr contract managers exist?
I referenced other descriptions of the role - you may want to review this http://commitmentmatters.com/2008/08/11/the-role-of-a-contract-manager/
yes, there are junior contract managers, many of them within oil and gas. You may want to speak with Jim Bergman, our lead for oil and gas, who can certainly offer insights to other companies, Jim can be contacted at email@example.com
I have met quite a few contracting professionals in our IACCM Member Meetings, Conferences and other events – some of them contract engineers, some of them junior contract managers, some are contract administrators and others are contract analysts. And then, there is another significant percent of the profession who hold titles that are very unique - few can determine what that person does merely from the face of the business card. Perhaps the most interesting title is held by an oil and gas contracting professional from Iraq who shared his card with me, which stated he was a “Older Contracting Professional”. Perhaps a lost in translation moment… Frankly, if I were asked to point out the key differentiators between the titles, I would be at a loss to confidently do so.
Thus, one must really ask, “What’s in a title?”. To some, it is an alignment to their educational background. To others, it is a means of impressing their family and neighbors. And to yet others, it is a statement of the intended manifestation of their responsibilities. Tim has posted some very insightful blog entries on CommitmentMatters that addresses this overall subject and a review of that body of knowledge is encouraged.
I would suggest that the first focus should be on what the role should be, and how it will enable greatest value to the organization. Then, once that is defined, proceed with a title that best describes the role.
As we are also in oil and gas and within a project context too, we had a PSCM Manager (share time), a Contract Lead (full time) and a Drilling Services Contract Engineer (full time). I don't know whether you already have a Procurement Manager and now wish to add a Contract Manager to the org chart or not. If yes, what should be the duties split between the roles?
Contracting deals with both the pre and post award aspects of a contract. The pre-award phase is all about setting a strategy, bidding (or single/sole sourcing), evaluating, negotiating, drafting and executing a contract. The post award is all about managing that contract through its completion.
Although all functions (Project Management, QA/QC, HSE, Project Controls, Engineering. Legal etc.) are involved in both these phases most organizations have realized that there is a strong requirement for Procurement/Supply Chain professionals in both phases.
Contracts professionals are often involved in negotiating the terms and conditions (a lot of the terms and conditions relate to commercial issues not just legal issues) as well as negotiation and oversight of all the other parts of a contract (SOW, Compensation, Schedule, other Exhibits etc.). Post contract award the focus shifts to contract compliance/administration and claims mangement and close out.
In some contracts (like a large EPC contract) the role may be full time or even with multiple contracts professionals and in some contracts (small operational contracts) the role may be part time.
In my experience there are varying levels of experience of contracts professionals leading to the need different job titles.
We use Contract Administrator, Contracts Specialist, Contracts Consultant and Contracts Manager (Contracts Manager being the most senior role, which could be managing a number of contract professionals on a large contract).
Hope this helps
Thanks Jim, very helpful indeed! I agree that is the content is the most important. Nonetheless, as there were discussions about suitable titles, I was very curious to what was most common in the industry and the preception of the IACCM community members.
"Within our company (oil&gas), day-to-day contract management is performed by the project managers. When it comes to contract review and redlining (being contract or subcontract) this is done by our legal counsels."
This says it all really. O&G can afford qualified lawyers. CMs are usually cheaper non-qualified "lawyers" who usually specialise on either the Buy or the Sell Side. This is not meant to be derisory but it is a fact that a 10 year qualified lawyer will be earning at least around 25% more than an equivalent CM.
I cannot see how a CM i.e. a non-technical person is able to challenge a request for more money under a variation if they are not an engineer and therefore do not understand the industry or the technicalities involved. It simply is not possible. Hence the need for a CE.
Qualified lawyers do not need this skill set as they are not involved in post-signature work; purely legal aspects of drafting terms and conditions
"I cannot see how a CM i.e. a non-technical person is able to challenge a request for more money under a variation if they are not an engineer and therefore do not understand the industry or the technicalities involved. It simply is not possible. Hence the need for a CE."
I tend to disagree with this. In our previous project, it was the contract person who handled the variations effectively. Of course they need input from Engineer, advice from Legal and they then combined those with the commercial arrangement of the contract, which they know best.
A contract person should know their industry enough to pose relevant questions, to both internal Engineer and external contractors. I think they need more common sense than technical expertise.
I'm currently a junior contract administrator for an international transport company. I'm trying to transition into the software industry, but it's proving to be very difficult since all the open positions I've seen in Silicon Valley area require several years of software licensing and IT sale agreemenet experience. I'm trying to learn about these areas on my own, through books and online resources, however, I'm not sure if this is enough to get my foot in the door. Any advice or insight?
You may want to join us this Thursday on a webinar at 8am PST where we discuss careers in contract management (see the Events Calendar).
More generally, you are right to study the area so that you can demonstrate understanding of the terms and principles that apply in other industries. As you do this, try to think about what aspects of your current work are applicable and what is truly different. Obviously, the IACCM on-line training and certification would be helpful not only because it has extensive IT-industry content, but also because it once again illustrates your commitment.
There is in general a shortage of enthusiastic, committed, young contracts practitioners, so I am sure you will eventually succeed in your goal. I think a cover letter that spells out your career ambition and enthusiasm, together with the ways you are developing your knowledge, will go a long way to getting you those interviews.
• IACCM Resourcing
I'll be very happy to talk through your dilemma and try to help you reach your goals. E-mail or telephone me; my contact details are below. Best wishes, Suzanne Birch CEO, IACCM Resourcing 90 Grove Street, Suite 2, Ridgefield, CT 06877, USA Direct: (001) 203-403-9460 Cell: (001) 941-763-9001 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org/pub/suzanne-birch/0/b1b/8a2
• Bombardier Transportation
Anonymous, it's interesting that you are in Transport sector and looking to move to Software. I have just done the opposite after 15 Years in the IT industry!
Whilst certain sectors will require industry specific knowledge, this can be gained relatively quickly and should be be seen as blockers, therefore the key is to focus on your transferable skills and how these will apply to a new role - it's for that reason that being part of the Commercial and Contract management Profession should enable you to transfer between industry sectors much more readily than most other roles.
I agree generally with the comments above. However, as a relatively younger member of the professional world - I am in my mid 30s - I still remember well the old chicken and egg problem that I very much faced when trying to break into this field. See, I graduated from law school but determined early on that I did not wish to work in a firm where I knew I would be conducting research, drafting memos, and ploughing through boxes of dusty papers as part of document review. I knew that most of the contract and commercial management jobs I was applying for would be easy for me to learn, yet it was difficult to get someone's attention. Note that I was a graduate of the 15th best law school in the nation (we have 202 accredited law schools in the US), passed the Texas bar exam on the first attempt (Texas being one of the largest commercial states in the US), and even had a year at the University of Oxford on my CV. I was confident that I could write and think well enough to do a number of jobs. What to do? I got introduced to a job prospect (not Ericsson) through a law school associate. I went in as contract staff earning an embarrassingly low hourly wage - I literally couldn't make my law school loan payments on the amount I earned. Eventually I was hired permanently and after much diligence have managed to build a solid career.
One challenge for new graduates in this and other fields is that we have abandoned the old system of apprenticeship or trainee positions. Interestingly, the infosec field has the same issue, in that many leaders bemoan the lack of qualified candidates for critical positions that are now mandated by the senior leadership. Simply put, in the era of downsizing, right-sizing, and outsourcing, many organizations do not want to invest in development and leadership programs for junior employees. Let's face it: After the multiple economic pain points in the 00s, including the US dot com crash and the US housing crash, many companies wanted to hire mid-level people with established skills for pay closer to junior levels. At least in the US, corporations are taking in record profits, but this is fueled in part by "right-sizing" staffing and trimming R&D budgets. Many companies have not returned to pre-crash levels of R&D investment and talent development.
Not too long ago, a veteran in the ICT industry told me this: The value of a technology company lies in its talent - take away the talent and the company will cease to innovate and ultimately will fail. This is one area in which Ericsson can take pride. We draw the very best talent from top graduate programs. Despite being a Swedish company, we hire the brightest people literally from around the world. We intentionally hire new grads and actively develop our internship programs. I know that my previous employer did much the same. Perhaps not surprisingly, these two organizations are literally the two largest telecommunications network providers in the world, enabling telecom operators to connect billions of people each day.
I would encourage the leadership at all major corporations to adopt a more methodical talent recruitment and development approach. I really do see it as a vital step toward long-term innovation across the global economy.
You might want to take a look at the resouces tab (select service directory/consultants) on the IACCM website. There is a category for negotiations training. These are companies that we have dealt with over the years. I would also add Think! Inc. Jeanette Nyden is also quite good. Please reach out to me directly if you'd like additional information.
I think the forum should give some "tips"!
(1) Golden rule number 1 - if you make a concession, always ask for something in return;
(2) Know your BATNA;
(3) Be prepared for tactical measures such as the other side turning up the heat (perhaps even being overtly rude) in order to throw you off balance. When they see you are discombobulated, they will immediately offer an olive branch - and along with it ask for a concession. This is a tactic and is very effective. Do not fall for it.
Simon Horton - I have only read his book, but one to explore.
• The Commercial Coach
I know of people who have raved about training with Jim Camp: www.campnegotiationinstitute.com/ I haven't personally attend through.
• Parker Hannifin Corporation, Aerospace Group
I would suggest looking into the Karras Negotiation programs. I've been to a few of them and they are recognized as a leader in this area. Make sure you let them know what side of the table you will be negotiating from Seller or Buyer and they should be able to tailor the training to your specific needs. They also offer on site sessions with enough participants.
Druk Green Power Corporation Limited
Cheki, we are workin gon it! I regret there is no such programmme right now. the closest you will find are probably some of the classes provided by QUT in complex projects / supply managment. IACCM has provided some of the content for those classes, You could contact Bob O'Connor at QUT if you would like more information.
• Druk Green Power Corporation Limited
Tim, Thank you for the response. There is a course called MBA (Strategic Procurement). Will this course be usefull for a Contract Manager who deals mostly COnstruction COntracts for Hydro Power.
You know you can post the job for free on the IACCM Job Board?
We recently used the IACCM Resourcing team to assist with a similar placement in China. It wasn't easy, but they did find us a good candidate that we hired (plus a couple of others that were way outside our budget).
Another approach we have tried (though for Japan rather than China) was to look at nationals graduating from US law schools, some of whom had good industry experience before they went to the US. Again, this worked and might prove effective for Chinese staff as well, given the numbers now going to US schools.