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Contract management’s technological revolution: today’s biggest, most important news. Everyone’s looking for answers – but are they looking in the right place, for the right things? And could those answers be closer to hand than we think? 

Join us as we gaze into our technological crystal ball, and see a future that may surprise you.'Contract management is today viewed as the most critical capability for business success. It is also one of the most sought-after careers and one of the best routes to a corporate leadership role.' 

Might that (imagined) quote be the headline news a few years from now? It certainly isn't beyond the bounds of possibility.

In this special edition we introduce you to some of contract management’s greatest innovators and visionaries, who describe a new world where contracts are designed as instruments of communication, where hand-crafting is a thing of the past and where the value generated through contract management can be objectively measured.

No more frantic rummaging through drawers looking for ‘that’ contract, or an old template to adapt. No more opinion-based debates over what terms and conditions would be best to use. No more critical dates forgotten – or worse, not scheduled. No more fire-fighting and acrimonious debates over whose data is correct. 

A world of digital technologies, supported by capabilities such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, natural language processing and advanced analytics is about to transform contracts and contract management. The role of the specialist artisan will be replaced by that of the fact-based expert, driving strategic capability rather than operational oversight. These new technologies overcome the limitations of traditional enterprise systems - they offer effectiveness rather than simple efficiency, they generate knowledge and support inter-enterprise performance. 

Contract management is one of the last areas to receive the benefits of automation. That's because it is complicated and touches so many stakeholders, internal and external. It offers the opportunity for major financial impacts, until now hidden behind the cloak of mystery that typifies the contracting process.

‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’

For contract management, getting from here to there may seem daunting, but it is a journey of two parts. The first is within our own control. No matter what our starting point, we can begin to understand emerging technologies and to re-think our own internal documentation and processes, creating a vision of our new, value-add destination. 

The second part of the journey involves gaining support and buy-in from stakeholders within our own organizations, and beyond – unlocking the really dramatic step-changes in productivity and effectiveness that we seek. In creating that shared understanding, we also gain influence and status as a critical business function - driving success in trading relationships.

In this edition of Contracting Excellence, provocative and far-sighted innovators explore the changes and shifts in ways of working that new technology both makes possible and demands: 

  • Kingsley Martin: Contract management’s high tech revolution: how to make it happen’
    Kingsley Martin writes about the journey of change that new technology both needs and can bring about – and how to get it right. Watch out for more in his upcoming series of essential step-by-step articles: Secrets of Successful Transition to Transformative Contract Management Technology Revealed. 
  • Rob Waller, Helena Haapio and Stephania Passera: ‘Contract simplification: the why and the how’
    New technology demands clear well-structured contracts – so is it time for contract simplification to move from experimental to mainstream? The authors explore ‘Next Generation’ contracts, and how to get started.

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Tim Cummins, President of IACCM, Professor, Leeds University School of Law; Chair, International Commercial & Contract Management

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