In this post, we are talking with Jan Bouckaert about the evolution in contract management and the role AfiTaC can play in this.
What is evolving for contract management in the broad sense?
Jan: Some of the latest evolutions in contract management are as follows:
- People are talking about new technologies establishing contractual relationships based on artificial intelligence. Often, proper reading of the contracts made by humans would already be a good start, wouldn’t it ?
- Business relations are ever more international with inherent risks: fiscal exposure, disputes, integrity issues etc.
- Even Small and Medium sized Enterprises are obliged to develop their contract management.
- Negotiations are tough, even though win-win solutions should remain the objective.
- Companies reduce their internal resources, reducing fixed costs but bringing overload, lack of expertise etc.
Out of curiosity, what does AfiTaC stands for?
Jan: AfiTaC is the abbreviation of “Advice for international Tenders and Contracts”. We are passionate about contracts. An important part of what we do is promoting Contract Management to a broader public than Lawyers and Contract Managers/Administrators. Our blog and exchanges on LinkedIn reflect this. For specialists, we challenge the status-quo based on real-live situations and arguments; for people building up their knowledge, we provide valuable learning bricks.
What can AfiTaC do to accompany the change?
Jan: Apart from our blog available in 4 languages (English, French, Portuguese and Dutch), which is quite unique, we also propose customized/adapted services. AfiTaC offers complementary support to leverage your teams at a far more attractive cost than external legal services and covering a broader scope – from contractual to commercial subjects, covering topics ranging from contract wording, to insurance, financial & tax issues etc. We do this based on 20+ years of experience.
Concretely speaking, how would we work with AfiTaC?
Jan: We will set-up a collaborative platform (cloud-based storage on servers in France, protecting your data) enabling flexible interaction: you can upload your questions and retrieve the answers. This will allow better tracking and sharing than a traditional e-mail solution. However, if you prefer a more traditional way, we can adapt. Of course, confidentiality, loyalty and professionalism are our guiding principles.
Can you tell us a bit more about the services you provide?
Jan: We will give you some examples of how we can create value for you:
Based on a monthly fee, your team can contact us for commercial and contractual issues and receive a reply within 24 hours. The monthly fee will be adjusted, after prior agreement, based on the actual usage of the hotline in the preceding month: no bad surprises for you, visibility upfront and you only pay as per the value we create for you.
In B2B relationships, surprisingly, the possibility to create or destroy value during negotiations is still largely underestimated. Often, the commercial staff receives the company’s wish list (must have’s, golden rules etc) but is lacking the arguments to defend their case and, even more, the skills to negotiate. Our coaching can make your team stronger and more effective in finding win-win solutions with your business partners.
We can audit your contracts, provide a structured approached for risk management, set-up a contract risk scoring system and organize or participate in your risk boards.
Together, we can establish your team’s needs and build an appropriate training: commercial awareness, contract standards, negotiation practice, international business, contract management etc.
We can set-up a positive environment for this important, but often scary, subject so that your teams can make sure they remain proud of the healthy business environment in which you operate. This contains three steps: (i) establishing an adapted integrity policy and statement, (ii) providing training based on real-life examples and (iii) facilitate an alert mechanism to be used if the team fears that certain practices put their proudness at risk. This will be adapted to SME’s: compact and straightforward, not so sophisticated as in large companies who have dedicated resources for this.
Mediation and Arbitration:
While our goal is to avoid disputes to escalate by anticipation (with all the above services), we also support dispute resolution in a fast, cost effective and balanced way.
Can we test these services to see if they are useful for us?
Jan: Yes, you can. Our principle is to facilitate, as much as possible, the access to our services. You can step in as low as you want and hopefully expand when you see the value we create together.