What skills make a good Contract Manager great?

What skills make a good Contract Manager great?
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Jack of all trades, master of none all

As the linchpin to achieving your contract’s objectives, contract managers have a wide range of responsibilities. A good contract manager needs to be a Jack of all trades, who is a master of none all.

Meet Jack Of-All-Trades

Jack is a master at contract management. His contract management know-how is broken into two skills sets:

  • technical skills
  • interpersonal skills.

Technical Skills

Falling into the technical toolkit, Jack’s practical skills are needed to deliver outstanding day-to-day contract management. These include Jack’s:

  • excellent understanding of the business and how the services should be delivered to support and improve the business
  • subject matter and industry expertise to champion his supplier effectively and set expectations within his organisation about what the contract can realistically deliver
  • knowledge of the contract back to front so that the right delivery, performance and pricing models can be applied to ensure his supplier successfully delivers the goods and/or services
  • comprehension of the operational and financial risks to protect the business.

Interpersonal skills

Jack’s technical know-how is good, but it’s his interpersonal skills that really see him nail it. Stand-out contract managers tap into their interpersonal skills every day for smooth contract delivery and to inspire innovative goods and services from suppliers.

Jack’s ability to build strong supplier relationships that survive under high-pressure is an absolute necessity to ensure the business receives the goods or services on time and on budget. If contract delivery is not going well, a contract manager’s personal know-how in managing performance, in a way that keeps the supplier engaged and motivated, is very important. (For more on how to lead your suppliers to better performance, check out the 2016 study on Supplier Leadership.)

A great contract manager is the bridge between the business and the supplier. To ensure expectations are set realistically and milestones achieved, the following are essential tools in every contract manager’s toolkit:

  • negotiation and influencing smarts
  • effective communication and project management skills
  • the ability to inspire and manage change.