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Free online course backed by UK government explores best practice in effective contract management and building commercial relationships

  • Experts from the UK government and the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM) join the University of Southampton to deliver the course
  • The course will launch as a massive open online course (MOOC) on FutureLearn, allowing practitioners from all over the world to share their experiences and ideas

A free online course designed to cut through the complexities of the contract management process has been launched today for public, private and third sector workers around the world.

Contract Management: Building Relationships in Business’ has been developed by the University of Southampton, in collaboration with the UK Cabinet Office and Civil Service Learning, and the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM).

The course will bring insights and ideas to anyone interested in the world of business and trading relationships. Over a period of three weeks, learners will be taken through the importance and challenges of designing and delivering good contracts. They will learn how a person’s or organisation’s objectives – and those of their customers and suppliers – can be achieved in an effective way, without threat or failure.

Among the topics to be explored during the course will be:

  • Relationship fundamentals; the things that can go right or wrong in commercial relationships
  • The rules that govern public and private sector procurement
  • The complexities of supply chains and networks that are a feature of many contracts
  • How to manage interdependencies and the needs of multiple stakeholders
  • Judgement and the data needed to inform it

The MOOC will launch on FutureLearn, the social learning platform that allows people all over the world to learn by having conversations with one another around course content provided by leading international institutions. Practitioners from around the world will be able to share experiences and discuss the issues raised during the course with one another, and with the educators leading the course.

Contract Management: Building Relationships in Business’ is open now for learners to sign up for. The course will start on 27th April 2015.

The lead educators will be Douglas Macbeth, Professor of Purchasing and Supply Chain Management at the University of Southampton; and Tim Cummins, CEO of IACCM and a former commercial executive in the automotive, aerospace and technology industries. He also previously led the reengineering of IBM’s worldwide contract process. Together with expert guest speakers, they will guide learners through a compelling narrative made up of videos, articles, QA sessions and facilitated discussions among the course cohorts.

Professor Macbeth said:

“Business relationships are in some ways no different to personal ones, but the need to formalise them into contracts creates challenges and complexities which everyone needs to understand, and to become involved with designing and operating effectively.”

Tim Cummins, Chief Executive of the IACCM said:

“All too often we read about the social, economic or political fall-out from commercial contract failures. After years of research, IACCM is proud to be part of a government initiative that offers leadership on how to do deals that work and that last. If contract failure is the growing problem, better understanding and application of contract management is the urgent fix.”

The MOOC was developed in partnership with Civil Service Learning and the Crown Commercial Service. The teaching content draws on some of the commercial skills and expertise in the Civil Service, with members of the Crown Commercial Service featured in the course videos.

Director of Civil Service Learning, Hilary Spencer, said:

“Commercial and contract management skills are some of the most valuable to hold in today’s world, whether in the private or public sector. This MOOC model is particularly exciting as it allows people from all backgrounds and stages of their career to learn together, and encourages civil servants to learn alongside those from the private and third sectors. I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support this programme and look forward to seeing it begin in April.”

Adrian Kamellard, Head of Professional Development, Cabinet Office said:

“Good contract management is an essential element of government providing high quality public services. Government is making a concerted effort to develop its people to better understand how to get the most from suppliers and make good commercial decisions. The MOOC offers an exciting opportunity to further develop contract management skills by hearing from a wide range of knowledgeable contributors from around the world. We are delighted to be working with Southampton University and IACCM.”

The move to address the complexities of commercial relationships and the contract management process in a MOOC has also been welcomed by other business leaders.

Violet Okpere, Group CP Discipline Excellence Manager at Shell said:

“A MOOC enables people to think widely and broadly about the issues from a global perspective. This course will allow people to collaborate and expand their thinking, making them better able to address issues in their own sector.”

MC McBain, Vice President for Global Business Development at IBM said:

“I think what’s very energising about the MOOC is the number of people you can reach around the world. With mobile technology, everyone has the ability to expand their knowledge and increase their skills, and this course provides a tremendous opportunity to do just that.”

Contract Management: Building Relationships in Business’ joins the growing number of career enhancing courses on FutureLearn. The platform currently reaches over one million learners from more than 190 countries.


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