Contracts: Avoiding The Scrap Heap!


Author: Tim Cummins

When it comes to complex contracts and negotiations, scrap metal may not be the first thing you think of. But a recent edition of the Canadian ‘Globe & Mail’ tells us otherwise: “Despite the technological developments in the industry, the trust needed to do business effectively requires a face-to-face approach”.

The article goes on to explain the challenges of validating the integrity of suppliers, the provenance of the scrap and the standards of overall quality control in an industry that is increasingly global. These factors apparently demand site visits, human interaction and physical handshakes.

The arguments against automation reminded me of similar views from recent IACCM surveys – that the best way to improve negotiated results would be to reinstate face to face meetings. In both cases, not only is the conclusion wrong, but it flies in the face of the unstoppable march of technology. Rather than fight this advance, those who want to prosper should instead be thinking about how they can develop and deploy the right automated solutions faster than their competitors.

Let’s go back to scrap metal for a moment. The sources of supply are not infinite and margins are (apparently) low. It surely won’t be long before someone develops a ‘scrapadviser’ app where facilities are rated for their performance. They may even start selling through Amazon or a similar global platform, using industry standard terms and automated negotiation. And when it comes to a specific record of quality and origin, technologies such as blockchain lie at the heart of such information, offering reliable and authenticated data. (For more on blockchain and its potential to transform trade practices, see an excellent summary provided by Bertrand Maltaverne).

While scrap metal may not be top of mind for most of us, I found this story interesting. If something as mundane as the trade in scrap is heading towards technological disruption, just imagine how its going to affect you and your business – since I’m sure your ambition is to avoid ending up unwanted and on the scrap heap!


“Unlocking Value through Collaboration” is of course the theme for the 5th Annual PASA Premier ConfeX on 11th & 12th October 2017 at Crown Promenade Melbourne. The programme has just been released and is packed with case studies and practical advice on how to work more collaboratively. Check out the programme here.

Read more from Tim Cummins on the Committment Matters website.

Tim Cummins is CEO of the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM), a non-profit organization that he founded in 1999. Read more here




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