I have been thinking about launching a mastermind group for professionals who work with commercial contracts in the IT industry, but I wasn’t sure whether there was a demand for this type of service. I did know that I really could have benefited from the support, advice and problem-solving that such a group would offer had it been an option for me when I started as a commercial contract manager. Even today, after more than 14 years on the job, I learn something from every discussion with colleagues and from every new challenge presented by my clients.
Two months ago, I conducted a brief survey of contract professionals to learn about their needs for support and training. The survey, available on LinkedIn, Facebook and by personal invitation, was completed by 20 people. My aim was not to survey a representative sample of contracting professionals, but was rather a first toe-in-the-water to see whether there is a need for peer support and training by people working with commercial contracts.
Here are my results:
Seventy percent of my survey respondents work in an IT-related field and 95% have more than seven years’ experience working with commercial contracts. This is not surprising given that my professional network is focused in the ICT industry and my peers are experienced professionals.
By asking which types of contracts that participants negotiated, I was looking for a trend towards either supply or procurement contracts. In this sample, 80% of respondents have experience with supply contracts, so in a mastermind group they would be able to share in-depth experiences about their negotiations with purchasers. Thirty percent have experience with procurement contracts and could provide input to the supply-side negotiators. The mix of supply and procurement in the same group can provide perspectives for the other side and foster increased understanding of the other’s needs.
I have been running mastermind groups for small business owners since 2014, and expected that the people who would be interested in discussing their issues about commercial contracting were like these folks who did not have anyone with whom to discuss their business issues. When I saw that eighty-five percent of respondents did have this support in their companies, I was surprised that 80% of respondents indicated an interest in brainstorming options for commercial issues with industry peers. I’m curious about this response and will try to find out what is behind it.
The final question in my survey asked whether respondents were interested in receiving training about commercial contracting topics. A total of 75% responded positively to training delivered over either live video conferencing, self-study or both. The IT sector has undergone a lot of change over the last ten years, which is reflected in the nature and scope of technology and services contracts. I’m speculating that this might explain why after working in the field for over seven years, training is still of interest. Or it may be that the people who responded to my survey are lifelong learners. No matter the motivation, I appreciate the time taken by my respondents and thank them for their participation in the survey.
Link to survey questions: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1T5ZUOwFIKouJ7zIHCfR3VSzRKJk9syvuibgZkucGRLM/edit?usp=sharing