As with any program or process you set up in a company, establishing an initial need for it is always a no-brainer. The same applies for a Statement of Work (SOW) management program. However, the problem is, if you aren’t paying enough attention to your SOW projects or don’t understand how much you really need to be involved in your projects’ processes in the first place, then how do you know you even need a SOW management program?
I had been running a successful MSP program for 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 understand the damage that a poorly managed SOW engagement can cause within their organization. SOW projects often start with hiring a supplier to do a project with little supervision. The suppliers then take over the project, do all of the work, and come back when it's complete. No one is checking in on progress, monitoring the milestones, or making sure payments are being made in a timely fashion.
Then, all of the sudden, it becomes too late if something goes wrong. Paying a quality vendor late can tarnish the relationship that you have with them. Or, if you aren’t checking in with the vendor along the way and they aren’t progressing the way you wanted them to, then the outcome of the project will not be what you expected.
When you have a lot of vendors working on SOW projects, this can quickly turn into a convoluted process. Your organization can end up spending an inordinate amount of time and money on fixing the mistakes. Having someone manage this for you is ideal, and with a SOW program in place, that manager 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 probably do:
1. Payment Expedition
Once the chosen supplier has the technology set up, payments are fully automated and run through one system. All of the data is stored 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.
2. A Proper Approval System
You would be surprised at how much time companies waste running around trying to get the proper person to sign the proper documents for SOW contracts. With the right SOW management program and technology in place, there is a guaranteed 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 achieved at just the touch of a button, rather than 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 platform for printing hard copies, should you need to store copies or send them to the vendor.
3. Supplier Rationalization
One of the best benefits of implementing a SOW management program is efficiently streamlining your suppliers. For example, if you have one 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 simple push of a button. SOW engagements essentially save you and your resource manager time and effort in finding great vendors at a good price for high quality work.
4. 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 adhering to 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 each project as much as it should be. By the time you 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 discover some ways that you can save on costs as well.
If you find your SOW project needs increasing in your organization, take a step back and look at your processes to evaluate the pros and cons of having all of them run out of one place. It may be something great that you did not even know that you wanted – or needed!