What Skills Does A Contract Manager Need?

contract manager skills hero
Philip Reynolds
byPhilip Reynolds
May 25, 2021

As your company grows in size, so does the number of contracts you have to manage. When you have a sizable contract repository, it is a good time to consider adding a contract manager to your growing team – but what skills should you be looking for?

Contract managers play a critical role in companies by overseeing and directing contracts and legal agreements throughout the contract lifecycle management process. They are important in helping an organization achieve its goals and objectives through managing performance and making informed decisions on behalf of the organization. 

In this article, we’ll be looking at the roles, responsibilities and essential skills that an awesome contract manager should possess. Additionally, we’ll be sharing some tips on how contract managers can automate their contract management processes to increase working efficiency. 

A Contract Manager’s Roles And Responsibilities

  1. Contract drafting, evaluation, negotiation, and execution.

This includes timely contract reviews and approvals, providing recommendations, negotiating to finalize contract terms and seeing through the contract from start to finish. 

  1. Maintaining contract records and managing variations.

Contract managers act as the intermediary between the company and other contracting parties. They ensure reviews and approvals of any deviations from the original contract. Moreover, thorough record management such that evidence and supporting documents are easily accessible need to be conducted.

  1. Develop and implement standard operating procedures and policies.

Contract managers are responsible for laying down a standardized set of policies and procedures for employees to adhere to. This helps to streamline the contract lifecycle management process and ensure consistency. 

  1. Monitor contract management efficiency with analytics and process automation.

This role involves analyzing key metrics to gain insights about the company’s contract workflows. This helps contract managers understand which stakeholders tend to delay the contract lifecycle, which parts of contracts are most negotiated, etc. 

  1. Assess contract value and risk to the company.

Contract managers are expected to understand the company’s contract portfolio as a whole to identify trends and suggest improvements. They need to analyze the risks of each prospective contract and potential consequences to determine whether to add them into the existing portfolio. 

  1. Conduct contract closeouts and performance reviews.

Every contract has its own contract closeout when parties involved have fulfilled their obligations and payment has been made. Once this has been completed, contract managers need to conduct final performance review meetings and discuss areas for improvement. 

Essential Contract Manager Skills And Characteristics

Successful oversight of contract lifecycles requires contract managers to be skilled and knowledgeable in various areas such as: 

  • Time and risk management
  • Attention to detail
  • Good understanding of expected compliance practices
  • Up-to-date and knows how to integrate technology to improve processes
  • Effective communication and collaborative skills
  • Best practices in negotiation
  • Relationship management

Although it is not necessary for contract managers to be lawyers, some companies may prefer contract managers who are trained in the legal practice. 

Contract managers work closely with legal teams to ensure compliance and empower teams to create and close contracts quickly without mishaps. They focus more on the daily management of contracts and providing the operational support to ensure a smooth contract lifecycle. 

Difference between a contract manager and a project manager 

Contract managers are often associated with being the same as a contract administrator or project manager. Let’s clear this misconception. 

Here are some of the more obvious differences between a contract and project manager: 

  1. Daily operational tasks. 

The day-to-day tasks of contract managers involve reviewing contract lifecycle management processes, creating new contracts, ensuring employees comply with standard operating procedures associated with contract drafting, etc. 

Depending on the ongoing projects that the project manager is involved in, some daily tasks include overseeing the progress of projects, troubleshooting complications, updating relevant parties etc. 

  1. Different focus in business development.

Contract managers focus on managing and negotiating contracts, and working with others to help them understand what they are signing. 

A contract may just be a part of a larger project. Project managers are focused on meeting the goals and objectives of tasks such as new product launches, building and developing projects, etc. 

  1. Varying roles and responsibilities.

A contract manager is responsible for managing personnel responsible for maintaining and editing contractual documents and paperwork. They are also required to negotiate key terms between the company and its clients, and explain key risks to clients. 

Project managers are required to build project plans, source, and work with vendors and third parties to attain required materials, ensure compliance with operations; safety regulations, and so on. 

  1. Different set of required skills and competencies 

Contract managers need to have adequate time and contract risk management skills to constantly optimize the contract management process and improve efficiency. They also need to understand the compliance landscape relative to their industry. 

Project managers require strong leadership skills to align and motivate team members and ensure commitment towards accomplishing set goals and targets. They require a wide supplier network, critical thinking and problem-solving skills to be able to troubleshoot any problems that may occur. 

Automating the contract management process for your contract managers with Contract Hound.

  • Create — Contract managers work closely with legal teams to develop standard templates for various contracts. Once these are done, easily upload them via drag and drop onto the contract repository. 
  • Reminders — Contract managers can get notifications and set reminders for key milestones like renewal and payment dates. This helps to prevent overspending, accidental and delayed payments.
  • Collaborate — Employees can make use of the in-app chat platform to tag others, discuss contract edits and share documents. This improves the internal collaboration amongst employees across various departments. 
  • Approve — Set approval notifications and view approval workflows at a glance on the intuitive dashboard. Know which contracts are pending approval, rejected and approved. 
  • Views and search filters — Know who has access to each document and all edits made will leave behind a traceable audit trail. 

Build a more efficient contract management process with Contract Hound.

Are you looking for ways to effectively shorten your contract lifecycle and become an even better contract manager – or to support the skills of your contract manager with better software? Look no further and start your free trial with us today.