What is a contract administrator?

Explainer
April 28, 2022
min

Contract administrators play a critical role in formalizing new business relationships and capturing revenue. From drafting through to negotiation, they’re responsible for organizing most aspects of a manual contract workflow. But what exactly are contract administrators tasked with, and what skills are required to become one?

This post explains everything you need to know about a career as a contract administrator, from typical duties to salaries, and how to know whether your business is ready to hire one.

If you’re keen to improve your contract processes without needing to hire another lawyer, hit the button below to get in touch. But if you’d like to find out more about contract administrators, read on. 

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What is a contract administrator?

A contract administrator is an individual that’s responsible for preparing, negotiating, and reviewing contracts, as well as completing multiple other administrative tasks. They approach contract drafting and negotiation with the goal of increasing profits, reducing risk, and closing deals quickly and efficiently. 

Contract administration is a broad discipline, so the general responsibilities of a contract administrator can include everything from initiating, creating, editing, reviewing and negotiating a contract to actually getting it signed with either wet ink or an electronic signature

Contract administrator duties 

Contract administrators typically have a wide range of different responsibilities. Broadly speaking, they are responsible for overseeing the creation, negotiation and execution of a contract. This involves undertaking numerous different duties, such as:

  • Discussing contract requirements and objectives with commercial teams to establish priorities and contract deliverables
  • Drafting contracts using the appropriate contract terminology and clauses 
  • Reviewing contracts internally and recommending contract amendments
  • Negotiating contract terms to ensure they’re as favourable as possible 
  • Implementing and using contract tools 
  • Sending the contract to the relevant parties to review and sign

Contract administrator vs project manager: what’s the difference?

The biggest difference between contract administrators and project managers is that contract administrators focus primarily on the contract process and how a contract progresses through the contract lifecycle. Project managers, by comparison, will only be involved in a small part of the contract process, and only if the project they’re managing requires them to. 

However, since the remit of responsibilities undertaken by contract administrators is so wide, contract administrators can often be mistaken for project managers. This is because there’s a significant overlap between the skills required for both roles. 

There are a few important differences between the roles of contract administrators and project managers, including that:

  • Contract administrators tend to engage with a wide range of different contracts within the company, whereas project managers will only engage with the few contracts that are relevant to their specific project
  • Project managers are not responsible for the contract processes, so they are often not leading on contract drafting, negotiation, and review. But contract administrators are
  • Project managers are responsible for collaborating with different departments on lots of different project-related tasks, whereas contract administrators only need to collaborate with other teams on the contents and outcome of a contract

Although the scope of their work differs considerably, contract administrators and project managers are still expected to work together to fulfill certain objectives and execute certain aspects of a contract. This is because the success of a particular contract will contribute to the success of a particular project. 

Contract administrator skills 

🗣️ Communication skills

Effective communication skills are essential for a contract administrator role as contract administrators are responsible for communicating the interests and demands of different contract stakeholders from across the organization. They’re also responsible for securing the most favorable terms for their business through contract negotiations, which naturally require strong communication abilities. 

🤝 Negotiation skills

Contract administrators also need to show more advanced negotiation skills that go beyond being good communicators. For instance, they need to be assertive, creative, and knowledgeable about the law and its caveats. They also need to have effective time management and collaboration skills, since these all result in better outcomes when drafting contracts and getting terms agreed.

🕵️ Analytical skills

Successful contract administrators will also need to be extremely detail orientated to ensure that contract errors are minimized and risk has been reduced within a contract as much as possible. They need to be able to identify contentious contract clauses, find nuances in certain terms and look for loopholes that aren’t necessarily obvious in order to protect the business from taking on too much risk with a new business contract

🤹🏽 Project management skills

The best contract administrators will also have a strong background in project management. This is advantageous as contract administration encompasses a wide range of different responsibilities, all of which tend to be time-sensitive. They often need to consult with various commercial teams and are responsible for the bulk of contract lifecycle management, meaning they need to allocate their time and resources wisely.

What qualifications do contract administrators need?

Unlike the criteria for some other legal roles, like solicitors and general counsels, there is no definitive list of qualifications you need to become a contract administrator. This means that whilst it’s likely that most companies will look to hire someone with a degree in either law, business or something similar, not all will do so.

But whilst it’s not entirely necessary to have a law degree, contract administrators are required to have a good understanding of legislation and general contracting rules, and these can be acquired through a legal degree or qualification of some kind. 

It’s also common for many contract administrator roles to require a certain level of experience, which is usually quantified in years. They commonly also seek candidates who have previous experience using certain contract management or contract automation software

Contract administrator salary

According to Payscale,  the average base salary for a contract administrator in the UK is £21,865. This is similar to what Glassdoor estimates the average salary for a contract administrator to be in the UK, which is £24,060, or up to £30,170 in London.

However, the average salary for a contract administrator in the US is estimated to be around $62,667, according to Indeed. According to Talent’s research, entry-level contract administrators typically earn roughly $46,808 per year, meanwhile, the most experienced contract administrators can earn from around $97,500 annually. 

It’s worth noting that what contract administrators get paid can vary wildly depending on the area they work in, the type of company they work for, and how contract administration tasks are distributed within the business. For instance, it’s not uncommon for contract managers to be responsible for contract administration work, yet their salary is typically a lot higher. 

Contract administrator jobs 

Contract administrator jobs are available across a wide range of different industries, as it’s common for most industries to manage contracts of some kind. Some of the best places to look for contract administration openings include: 

Alternatively, you can subscribe to Juro’s community jobs board, where we frequently update job openings for scaling in-house legal teams.

Does your team need a contract administrator?

Whether or not your business needs to hire a contract administrator depends on how successful your contract workflow is currently.

If your contract volumes are scaling ahead of headcount, you might find your legal team buried in low value contract admin, which can prevent them from getting around to the high value tasks that require their attention the most. In this case, hiring either a contract manager or a contract administrator might be a good option. 

But an even better option could be to reduce the time your business spends on contract admin altogether, which can be done by automating your routine contracts. The best way to do this is to implement a contract automation tool like Juro. With Juro, users typically win back 70% of time spent on contract admin, meaning you can scale your contract process without needing to hire another lawyer or contract administrator. 

If this sounds like the most suitable option for your business, fill out the form below to find out more. 

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