Jason Smith, Senior Director and Legal Counsel for Apttus, discussed challenges in contract management and how strategic decision-making can provide a competitive advantage during his presentation at the 2014 Chief Legal Officer Leadership Forum in Chicago on Sept. 17. In his presentation, Smith noted the contract manager plays a strategic role in organizations today.
Smith pointed out how an organization deals with contracts can have far-flung effects. There are big differences between lawyers and non-lawyers, Smith added, and general counsels often are expected to do "more with less," especially when it comes to contract management: "In the corporate world, legal [departments are] often nervous about empowering the non-lawyers to make decisions. But at the same time, the themes that we keep hearing through all of these discussions are that legal is just not equipped to handle every single aspect of the business. The standard line is 'do more with less.' So we don’t want to keep taking more information and more tasks related to the commercial management of contracts."
An organization that devotes the necessary time and resources to preparing a contract and resolving issues that may arise along the way can succeed, according to Smith. If an organization is focused on contract management, Smith noted, it can minimize conflicts as a contract moves up an organizational hierarchy: "I think there’s kind of a happy middle ground as you move up the stages of contract maturity where you can start implementing basic processes and start mandating certain things. Then you can kind of go across business units with the contract management, and it’s not until you’ve made some strides in the contract maturity model that you can really understand and define who should be doing contract and commercial management."