How communication can make or break a successful acquisition and improve contract management
Improving contract management is not an easy process. There are numerous steps involved with the acquisition process. From identifying initial needs, all the way down to monitoring performance once a contract has been awarded requires a team of people – sometimes across different departments – to get involved. If too many people contribute to the acquisition process, but don’t make the effort to communicate with each internally, the process can be unsuccessful from the start. This creates a communication gap. Not only is effective communication key to successful acquisition and improving contract management, but so is an open dialogue with the industry and potential vendors.
Setting the standard from the beginning
Communication comes in many forms. When the initial need is recognised at the beginning of the acquisition process, it’s important to outline that need in the proposal and requisition. Internally, everyone involved should be on the same page when it comes to requirements and expectations. A good proposal will leave no room for interpretation. Requirements should be concise and straight to the point. Failing to do this puts your organisation at a disadvantage because potential vendors won’t know exactly what you’re looking for.
Vendors may be one of the most important stakeholders throughout the whole process. They’re the most invested in the needs of your organisation. Take the time to communicate with them to learn more about their product or service and how it can best benefit you. Through open vendor dialogue, your organisation can learn more about the industry, current concerns and trends, and more.
Work with the Contracting Officer’s representative to improve contract management
Once a contract has been awarded, the process of monitoring performance and tracking compliance begins. It can be overwhelming especially when there are other active contracts on the go. Many organisations use the Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR), who oversees the contracting process once a contract has been awarded. They act as a liaison between departments, and contribute to the ongoing dialogue internally.
A COR can help close the communication gap and contribute to improving contract management since they ultimately become the ‘voice’ for the contract. If you don’t know who has ownership of certain parts of the process, it makes it much more difficult to get answers when you need them. The COR ensures that all requirements are being met and is the go-to person for anything related to the contract.
Bringing it all together to close the communication gap
Effective communication is an active, ongoing process. It will continually improve as long as everyone is committed to improve it. People can only do so much so it’s important to have the right tools in place to close the communication gap. Eventually it will become and obsolete.
Many organisations find that they manage their contracts – the way most parts of the acquisition process operate – in silos. Not everyone has access to the same information. Some of the most critical pieces of information can go undetected by the required party. Not having a well-oiled overview on the process can lead to double work, incurred cost, and can open your organisation up to more risk.
Having a contract management platform in place that is flexible enough to handle multiple departments is a step in the right direction. When implementing a contract management platform, all contracts live in one central repository and all workflows and processes are documented.
You can use the platform to inform other team members of open items and important dates to keep in mind. And you can easily track contract versions and quickly get tasks executed in the fraction of the time it would take to do so on your own. With a contract management platform, this gives the COR a tool that they can use to track performance and compliance. They can generate reports, quickly search for documents, and maximise their role.
One of the most important components of a contract management solution is the ability to quickly communicate with vendors. With this platform, you can give your potential vendors an opportunity to submit questions, documents, and other relevant information that supports contract award. When you make adjustments to the initial proposal, you can easily alert potential vendors and eliminate manual emails.
Communication is not easy and it’s a skill that requires continual improvement. When it comes to organisational communication, not having enough can have a detrimental effect. When you make the effort to ensure everyone is on the same page and give them the tools needed to be successful, you’ll find yourself with more wins than losses.
Contract Insight from Four Business Solutions
Contract Insight helps you better manage and secure your business. This post highlights key feature enhancements, but is not a full description of the new system update. If you’d like to find out more, or you’d like a free trial to understand how Contract Insight can help you, please call John O’Brien at Four Business Solutions on 0800 6250 025.
John O’Brien is the CEO at Four Business Solutions, global business consultants and software integrators providing business processes improvements in Finance, Supply Chain & Operations, across a broad range of industries.