Important Skills for Contract Professionals, Part 2

Today, we have answers specifically from Tim Cummins, founder of International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM).

Last time we covered core skills as they are defined by IACCM. As a refresher, additional skills are not mandatory for all contract positions. Rather, they are required on a position by position basis.

Additional Skills

Knowledge of employer / industry: For employer knowledge, read company newsletters and keep up with office talk. (But beware of starting office rumors. since they can come back to haunt you. Instead just listen and observe). For industry knowledge, this means reading contract magazines like Contract Management Magazine and blogs such as Commitment Matters.

Client relationships: There are a lot of things you should do to keep up relationships, but it essentially boils down to two areas: (1) asking questions and (2) recording/remembering details. By asking the right questions, you get the right answers. By recording and remembering details, you make sure you always have the answers to your questions.

Business contribution: Generally, this section is about value. More specifically, in the words of Tim Cummins, founder of IACCM, says:
“[B]usiness contribution is about delivery of value and having the ability to describe and measure that value. This could be in the context of a specific deal, or may be through broader change initiatives. We expect much of this category to be financially driven, either based on costs or increased revenue. It is also about [offering] ideas and creative solutions that increase either efficiency or effectiveness ([e.g.] ease of doing business, competitiveness).

Business acumen: Judgment calls are the topic here. Tim Cummins weighs in again:
“[B]usiness acumen is about the ability to make good and timely [judgments]. It relates significantly to a holistic view and understanding of risk (both downside and missed opportunity). Typically it requires someone who is good at stakeholder analysis [and] understanding stakeholder values and perspectives to achieve a balanced solution that meets the needs of the various participants (or indeed identifies if there is no such balance).

Technical: These are the actual skills you will use to perform your daily tasks. This includes knowing how to draft contracts and using specific computer programs to help you.

Cultural / International: Say you’re buying 5 million pencils from the Chinese. Make sure you have at least a basic knowledge of Chinese history and customs so you don’t offend the seller. Even better, speak their language (or at least have a minimal linguistic understanding). They will respect you for this. On another note, these skills are vital for contracts professionals with a global focus such as international deals. IACCM is especially valuable for these kinds of professionals since it is the only organization (so far as I am aware) that provides internationally-recognized certificates for contract professionals.

What other skills do you think should have been covered?

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