Inside the Mind of IACCM's Tim Cummins

It was unfortunate that on the last day of IACCM, only a minority of the some 420 attendees stuck around for Tim Cummins final keynote. In fact, the main reason I decided not to fly out early was to hear Tim's remarks. For those who don't know Tim, he serves as President of IACCM. But he's not just a back-office executive. Tim's an intellectual leader who loves to push the limits of ideas, testing concepts while inviting others to try on what he has to say. Tim might not always be right -- and he can come off as more ethereal than pragmatic -- but he's one of the seminal thinkers in the space without question.

The main theme of Tim's presentation was how we can call take the concept of contracting up a notch within our companies -- from a procurement, sales and legal perspective. In Tim's view, leaders who succeed at this endeavor might not be the first out of the gate, but they'll "run near the front of the wave" to tackle the next level of complexity in contracting. And they'll do this through what Tim refers to as MMI or maintain, manage, initiate.

For Tim, the concept of maintain revolves around overseeing standards within our companies -- terms, policies and practices. It's a key part of our jobs to protect the business to insure contract adherence and compliance to reduce risk. But simply maintaining the status quo is not enough. We must also manage. Managing involves handling any type of contract deviation from status quo. But more important, it also is about the management of uncertainty. Simply put, how do we help our companies to thrive in today’s environment through better, more creative contracting approaches? One of the answers to this is to initiate change.

The process of initiating change makes us strategically relevant within our companies. To wit, we "must lead, not just manage". We must drive new standards and go beyond just creating sources of differentiation by contributing to the overall framework that supports worldwide trading relationships. Initiating change might take the form of more creative contracting approaches that encourage suppliers to innovate and take risks. Or it might involve helping suppliers to reduce their cost structures even further and sharing in the results. Regardless, initiating requires that procurement and legal together step up to the plate to drive the business in new directions through the capabilities of suppliers. Sound familiar? Does your Spend Management amp go to 11? ...

- Jason Busch

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