Feature Article: Three key skills needed for effective management of RTO contracts

The role of contract staff within RTO’s is becoming more and more important as providers are increasingly relying on the domestic student market and government funding agreements to recover from the impact of COVID-19. The ability of your staff to administer such contracts is dependent on their contract management skills. Contract management skills are important in order to ensure that your business is profitable. Some of the results of poor contract management can be RTOs losing important relationships, incurring financial penalties, costly litigations or sanctions against your business. Here are three key skills that staff managing your contracts need to have to ensure business success:

Digital Skills:

The ability for contract staff to understand and adapt technology is important in driving best practice in contract administration. RTOs need to train contract staff appropriately for the systems you use to automate and streamline your contract management processes. Digitisation of records can ensure constant improvement to contract processes and tasks. It also makes key contract information more accessible and readable. If you are using applications to track and monitor your agreements make sure staff have been trained appropriately to remove the risk of making human errors and save your business time and money.

Risk Management Skills:

At a basic level your contract staff should understand how to ensure responsible officers in your RTO are notified when contracts are expiring or key deliverables are due. Managers in charge of contacts should be adept at identifying, defining and outlining contract requirements that need to be mitigated and be able to resolve conflicts. If not handled correctly conflicts can result in legal action. Knowing how to prevent breaches and keep risk at a manageable level is an essential skill for contract staff. Managers should also know how to create risk management plans and conduct risk assessments and have the ability to interpret agreements, clauses and terms and mitigate contract risks before they develop into significant problems. Comprehension of operational and financial risks to protect your RTOs interests is essential. 

Attention to detail:

Having staff who are detail-orientated and understand your organisation intimately in order to implement the contract successfully is critical for your business. Contract staff should be particularly meticulous about deadlines and other concerns that might impact on your organisations ability to meet its contractual obligations. Contracts tend to contain a lot of complex legal terminology, and sometimes even seemingly minor details can have a major impact on contract performance. Therefore, contract staff must be intrinsically observant and have keen attention to detail. The ability to develop and implement processes and procedures for contract lifecycle management and amend them as appropriate is also important.

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