It seems that just about every year, some pundit jumps on the contract management bandwagon. "It's going to be the next big thing." "It's the missing link in procurement and sourcing." "Contract management is Spend Management."
The refrains never stop. Probably the most guilty party is one of the industry analysts that I respect the most, Andy Kyte, of Gartner Group, who can talk your head off for hours about the merits of contract management. Honestly, the man is into it, big time.
In all seriousness, despite the hype and Andy's enthusiasm, contract management is a critical component of Spend Management. But perhaps what is most interesting is that there's not been a single vendor or firm to emerge at the center of it. Everyone from Ariba to SAP to Hummingbird, a content management vendor, are getting in on the action, competing against best of breed players like CMSI, Dicarta, and imany.
So where can you go to learn more about contract management? The material that Dicarta provides in their resource center is not a bad place to start. They will send you materials after registering. I also think Ariba’s Spend Management learning center does a good job aggregating a number of resources on the subject. The link to it is here. Navigate to the "Procurement" section under "Resources by Initiative" and click on the last section.
Hummingbird has also written a whitepaper on the subject. While it's not ground breaking, it has some decent background and is a basic primer. Register for it here.
In addition, I like one of AMR Research's feature pieces on the subject. Its titled: "Contract Management: Five Secrets to Achieving Supply Management Excellence." You can find it here if you're an AMR subscriber. Forrester, Aberdeen, and others have also covered the subject as well, though I like AMR's take on it, in particular.
Personally, my experience a couple years back helping launch a contract management product suggests that it's a tough market for stand alone products. I also think it's fascinating that content management vendors are diving into the arena along side best of breeds and ERP players. In other words, it's a free for all, and they're too many companies and products chasing too few dollars.
To keep our readers informed, we'll post relevant links, analysis, and perspective on the subject as material becomes available. -Jason Busch