To help you understand the importance of the CMS™, we’ve put together answers to the questions we get asked the most.
Frequently Asked Questions
ANSI defines a standard as “[a] document, established by consensus, that provides rules, guidelines, or characteristics for activities or their results.”1 ANSI contends that the common and repeated use of a standard will improve productivity, increase efficiency, and reduce costs.
The value of the CMSTM publication is that it presents contract management as an integrated, whole-systems design, where processes are intuitive and predictable and where potential problems are predictable and can be mitigated at their most fundamental level.2
The CMSTM publication provides the starting point for developing and maintaining the following:
- Contract management work experience practices, policies, and processes;
- Contract management training courses and programs; and
- Contract management college courses and curricula.
ANSI accreditation is a third-party assessment to determine whether the process of developing the CMSTM publication demonstrates a balance of interests, lack of dominance, and right to appeal while operating in accordance with approved ANSI requirements. To achieve this stature, NCMA complied with ANSI’s rigorous policies and procedures, which include:
- Standards based on consensus,
- Public review and comment on draft standards,
- Response to comments,
of approved changes, and
- Right to appeal.
The ANSI accreditation process of the CMSTM publication identifies meaningful job tasks and competencies and provides a roadmap for targeted and relevant professional development. In addition, the ANSI accreditation process contributes to the continual improvement of the contract management workforce and provides a bridge between formal standards and individual competence.
Contract management is a very diverse and dynamic profession. Even with significant deliverables (e.g., solicitation, offer, contract, performance, and closeout), contract management terminology, practices, policies, and processes can vary greatly from one organization to another. The CMSTM publication provides stability by integrating and standardizing the common job tasks and competencies that produce significant contract management deliverables.
While organizations must establish their own practices, policies, and processes to meet their goals, the terminology used and the interpretation of practices, policies, and processes should be intuitive to all contract managers. When contract management terminology, practices, policies, and processes are interpreted consistently, the likelihood of reaching agreement on matters relating to contract intent and interpretation is increased. Consistent application of professional standards also enables successful contract performance across diverse industries and types of organizations.
NCMA was approved as an Accredited Standards Developer (ASD) at the direction of the ANSI Executive Standards Council in April 2018. ANSI is the only official American representative for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
The ANSI ASD designation enables NCMA to accredit standards through its ANSI-approved operating procedures. ANSI’s third-party accreditation is intended to provide additional confidence and trust in NCMA standards, accreditation, and certification programs.
NCMA’s strategic plan—to include its mission, vision, and values—completely supports the advancement and professionalism of contract management. The lead paragraph of NCMA’s vision statement is:
Contract management will be viewed by all organizations and leaders—public and private—as an essential business management function that directly contributes to organizational success.
Evidence to support NCMA’s advancement and professionalism of contract management include NCMA’s Contract Management Body of Knowledge® (CMBOK), certification program, journal, magazine, conferences, education events, etc. In addition, NCMA is the only professional association that supports both buyers and sellers at all levels of government and throughout all areas of industry.
Since it was founded in 1959, NCMA’s strong and continuous service to the contract management profession provides ample evidence to support NCMA’s standing to develop and maintain the CMSTM publication.
The acceptance of contract management as a profession indicates that the application of education, training, and experience will have a significant impact on individual and organizational success. The CMSTM publication aligns job tasks and competency processes to significant
contract management outcomes and deliverables.
While many professions can be categorized into a single function, the contract management profession is made more complex by its division into two distinct functions: “buyer” and “seller.” It is important to know when the responsibility of one function ends and the other begins—and the points at which both functions actively engage.
The CMSTM publication presents what buyers should know, and equally as important, it presents what sellers should know. Depending on the contract life cycle stage (i.e., pre-award, award, post-award), each function has its own job tasks, competencies, and deliverables. However, at other points in the contract life cycle, these job tasks, competencies, and deliverables come together and direct interaction between buyers and sellers occurs.
The success of buyers and sellers can be measured not only through direct interaction (e.g., negotiations or contract performance), but also when there is no direct contact (e.g., planning). Success in one function cannot occur without success in the other. Successful contract management is more likely to occur when each function has a clearer understanding of the job tasks, competencies, and deliverables of both functions.
The means of developing any credible standard is through a Job Task Analysis (JTA) survey of interested parties, review by subject matter experts (SMEs), and a public review—
- JTA Survey—NCMA announced the 30-day JTA survey in October 2018 by posting the announcement on its website and through an email campaign to over 39,000 email addresses of NCMA members and nonmembers. The survey was available to anyone with access to the NCMA website.
- SME Review—Armed with the results of the JTA survey, the Standards Consensus Body (SCB) applied its subject matter expertise. With SCB consensus and approval, the CMSTM publication was made available for public review.
- Public Review Period—For 45 days, the announcement to solicit public comments on the CMSTM publication was posted on the ANSI and NCMA websites. In addition, NCMA issued occasional reminders of the public review through its media. The SCB responded to all comments and ANSI was copied in all the responses.
Additional credibility is provided through an established appeal process for any objections of the CMSTM publication content or the accreditation process.
The CMSTM publication is intended to:
- Define and standardize the term “contract management”—There are lateral areas to contract management which may have differing processes and terms (e.g., acquisition management, procurement, management, subcontract management, or supply management). The CMSTM publication may not be an exact fit for each of these areas, but in the absence of standards, the CMSTM publication could be adapted for use.
- Present and define the processes involved in all phases of the contract life cycle (pre-award, award, and post-award)—To successfully apply innovation to contract management processes of the buyer or seller function, a foundational understanding of the entire contract life cycle must exist for the opposite function to understand and accept the innovation.
- Develop and fortify contract management practices, policies, and processes—A clear understanding of expected deliverables throughout the contract life cycle should lead to effective contract management practices, policies, and processes. All contract management practices, policies, and processes should provide effective use of resources (e.g., people, funds, equipment, and time).
- Inspire critical thinking and learning to bring efficiency to the contract management profession—When the blending of contract management job task and competency processes are understood, an environment is created for effective critical thinking, learning, and results.
- Be a living document, with a formal change process—Unless NCMA determines that changes are needed more frequently, ANSI requires each ANS to be reaffirmed every five years using the organization’s ANSI-accredited procedures. For NCMA, changes to the CMSTM publication will be accomplished through a formal change process, which will include surveys, SME assessment, public review, and appeal rights.
The CMSTM publication is not intended to:
- Become any type of rule or regulation to direct how contract management is to be performed—However, those who use the CMSTM publication as a guide to develop and maintain contract management practices, policies, and processes; training courses and programs; and college courses and curricula should increase the likelihood of successful individual competence and organizational capability.
- Present best practices—While the CMSTM publication is, in and of itself, a best practice, it is also designed to inspire other best practices. The CMSTM publication presents the consensus of interested parties who agree that the job tasks, competencies, and deliverables are applicable to most contracts most of the time. However, those who consistently apply the CMSTM publication will increase the likelihood of creating the environment to develop and execute best practices.
In addition to the ANSI accreditation.
Major changes to the CMSTM publication include the following:
- Adding “1.7 Communication and Documentation”—This new competency under “1.0 Guiding Principles” projects the importance of communication and documentation in all contract life cycle phases in all contract management circumstances.
- Realigning guiding principles—In version 1, the Guiding Principles were displayed to the left side of the contract management life cycle stages (pre-award, award, and post-award). To avoid confusion, the Guiding Principles were rotated so they appear above the life cycle stages. This “showerhead” image is more accurate in reflecting how the Guiding Principles universally apply to all life cycle stages.
- Changing competency titles—Several competency titles were changed to be more accurately depicted with their job tasks and expected results. For instance, in the pre-award life cycle, “Acquisition Planning” for the buyer was changed to “Plan Solicitation”; and for the seller, “Business Development” and “Develop Win Strategy” were changed to “Plan Sales” and “Prepare Offer,” respectively.
The CMSTM publication is designed to present contract management as a linear system in terms of a product life cycle where there is a beginning, middle, and end to a contract (i.e., pre-award, award, and post-award). The
CMBOK® is designed to present the contract management profession as a circular system in terms of a competence development model.
The CMSTM publication competencies are the heart of the CMBOK®. The CMBOK® adds the competencies of Leadership, Management, and Learn to provide a complete overview of the profession. Effectively applying the CMSTM publication will lead to improved performance and risk mitigation through intentional and targeted decision-making. To understand and apply the CMBOK®, one must be able to understand and apply the CMSTM publication.
The CMSTM publication is available to everyone at no cost and may be downloaded here.