As with any program or process you set up in a company, establishing a need for it is always a no-brainer. The same goes for a Statement of Work (SOW) management program. However, the problem is, if you aren’t paying enough attention to your projects or don’t understand how much you really need to be involved in your SOW projects’ processes in the first place, then how do you know you even need one?
I had been running a successful MSP at one of our clients for 3 years before they caught on to the fact that they needed a Statement of Work (SOW) program. Most organizations don’t even know the damage that a poorly managed SOW can cause in their organization. SOW projects often start with hiring a supplier to do a project with little supervision. The suppliers then take the project and run with it and come back when it's done. No one is checking in on progress, no one is monitoring the milestones, and no one is making sure payments are going out in a timely fashion.
Then, all of the sudden, it becomes too late. Paying a quality vendor late can tarnish the relationship that you have with them. Or, you aren’t checking in with the vendor along the way, they aren’t progressing the way you wanted them to, and the outcome of the project is not what you expected.
When you have a lot of vendors performing SOW projects, this can quickly turn into a messy process. You spend an inordinate amount of time and money on fixing the mistakes. Having someone manage this for you is ideal and, guess what, with an SOW program, one often comes at little to no cost to you.
Understanding the Benefits of Statement of Work
So if you are still not sure if you really need someone to manage your SOW projects, here are 4 reasons why you most definitely do:
Once the supplier is set up, the payment is fully automated and run through one system. All of the data is in one place, and it’s easy to check in and monitor where you are in your budget at any given time. You will have easy access and FULL visibility into where your money is going.
A Proper Approval System
You would be surprised at how much time is wasted running around trying to get the proper person to sign the proper documents for SOW contracts. With a proper SOW Management program and technology, there is an natural decrease in approval time. The documents are automatically sent to the proper cost delegation hierarchy, with no guessing games regarding who might be the approver in the organization. Approval is at just the touch of the button, instead of standing at a desk or cubicle waiting for someone to manually sign off on paperwork. And, as an added bonus, templates can be created within the technology for printing hard copies, should you need to store copies or send it to the vendor.
One of the best results of having an SOW Management program in place is efficiently streamlining your suppliers. For example, if you have a project with eight supplier proposals, you can compare and contrast to make sure that you are receiving high quality work for the best price. It eliminates the time and burden of navigating supplier contracts and negotiating rates. Now you have suppliers who have been properly vetted and are prepared to send you quotes, again with just the push of a button. This can save you and your resource manager time and effort in finding great vendors at a good price for high quality work.
Maintaining the Metrics of the Service Level Agreement
As I mentioned above, suppliers are often brought on for a SOW project and are expected to complete the project in a timely manner. But are they actually hitting those timelines? If you are like any other project manager, you are caught up in other work and don’t have the time to monitor the project. By the time you do realize that the project is not complete, it may be too late. With a SOW Management program, the spend and progress of the suppliers can be monitored. Essentially, you have someone monitoring it so that you don't have to. One person is the point of contact for all of your SOW project agreements. You have the data in one place to evaluate in any way that you want or need to. You can make sure that you are hitting your goals both financially and project-wise. With this new data, you may even see some ways that you can save on costs as well!
If you find your SOW project work increasing in your company, take a step back and look at your processes to evaluate the pros and cons of having all of it run out of one place. It may be something that you may not even know that you wanted – or needed!
About the Author: Cindi Wineburg is the Senior Program Manager at a global information and technology services company in Plymouth Meeting. Cindi is responsible for not only SOW, but for staff augmentation, independent contractors and direct hire. Cindi holds a degree in Business Administration from Drexel University and has been working in the staffing industry for almost 20 years. Prior to this role, Cindi worked as a program manager for a healthcare technology company in Malvern, PA.