Contract Managers: A Job Guide
So what is a Contract Manager?
Basically - a contract manager oversees the contracts that govern a business' operations.
They coordinate all stages of a contract, from reviewing and signing off on the terms to setting deadlines, creating delivery schedules, approving budgets, and more.
Contract managers usually begin their careers as contract specialists. They can work in many industries, including government agencies, real estate, healthcare, finance, and more.
Day to Day Responsibilities
Contract managers act as a liaison between companies, employees, customers, vendors, and contractors that are involved in the execution of legal agreements. They are the main point of contact for everyone involved in the contract process and are responsible for safe storage, compliance, and timely execution of a company’s contracts.
The day-to-day responsibilities of a contract manager will vary depending on the industry or business. Here are a few tasks associated with the role:
- Ensuring that contract conditions and compliance dates are observed
- Tracking renewal and expiration dates of contracts
- Securely storing, retrieving, organizing, and providing access to contracts
- Getting signatures on finalized contracts
- Negotiating price and insurance requirements
- Reviewing and sharing redlines with all parties involved
- Managing drafts of contracts
- Managing and documenting the approval process in accordance with the Delegated Financial Authority
- Facilitating contract discussions about details and issues
- Gathering requirements for new contracts
Skills to Being a Good Contract Manager
Contracts have immense value to businesses. Getting dates wrong, or not fulfilling promises can get the business in a lot of trouble and result in significant financial losses. So it goes without saying that those in charge of those contracts need to be very thorough.
A skilled contract manager will have strong technical skills and a thorough understanding of their business and industry. They must have significant attention to detail to thoroughly review legal documents, strong communication skills to explain contract details to people who may not understand legal jargon, and good organizational skills so that contract details are available when they are needed.
A strong contract manager will also be good at conflict resolution so they can act logically and reasonably during contract disputes. They will also have to manage risk well and fully understand a company's appetite for risk.
What Tools Do They Use?
Contract managers may use spreadsheets and Microsoft Word add-ins like Contract Tools, but these tools can be labor-intensive and inefficient.
Contract management software has become the primary tool that most contract managers depend on to get their job done efficiently. They convert the contract management lifecycle into a simple process where businesses see benefits quicker.
How Do You Become a Contract Manager?
Contract managers typically have a bachelor's degree in business management or finance, but someone with extensive relevant experience may not need these qualifications. Along with this education or experience, certifications may be required for certain types of commercial, professional, and federal contracts.
Tips for Success
As with all careers, a successful contract manager will always look for ways to improve. Here are some tips for becoming better at contract management:
Develop Professional Strengths
Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Are you good at time management, risk management, and understanding the compliance landscape? Are you tech-savvy and good at detailed work? If you have these skills, great. If not, you need to work on them to make them better as well as improving the skills you are strong at.
Contract managers need to be excellent communicators. They must keep all relevant parties up to date on any contract changes and be able to translate the complex legalese into a language that non-lawyers understand.
Become an Industry and Company Expert
A contract manager needs to know the company they work for and the industry they work in. They should know about a company's leaders, customers, vendors, and the performance metrics stakeholders care about to better understand how the business operates.
Adopt and Learn Technology
Modern contract management is best handled with innovative contract management software. Contract management software simplifies the tracking of critical deadlines, delivery schedules, and renewal provisions. It serves as a secure central repository of all contract details, and contract managers should be experts at using it as an extension to their skills.