Make Sure Your Statement of Work Has These 5 Things

Make Sure Your Statement of Work Has These 5 Things

Over the past 10 years of consulting I have written and reviewed hundreds of Statements of Work (SOWs). One can get so bogged down in the details that they can miss these major oversights in all delivery methodologies. Whether you are looking at a PowerPoint proposal or a 30 page contract SOW, here are 5 quick things to ensure are in all SOWs. While these tips may seem like common sense, I have found one or all of these details missing from nearly 100% of the contracts I have reviewed.

1) Business Outcomes

This is the foundation of every project so it should never be missing from the SOW, and likely the first section. Almost all problematic projects are due to an unclear vision. If you are still in the process of defining the requirements, it is best to start with a workshop and then move on to a full SOW. Use the SMART method to determine if the right amount of details are in scope: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. If a coworker or family member cannot explain what the scope is and what success looks like then, this foundational section needs to be updated until it is crystal clear.

2) Explicit Details

If its not written down, don’t assume it will get completed. Make sure you understand all the assumptions and details up front. If an SOW states that some objective will be completed, always question how much work (how many days, how many tasks, how many widgets). Do not stake your success on an outcome based (generalized outcome) contract only. You should, instead, ensure the contract includes assumptions on effort, time, and quantity that will be required to complete the stated objective. This is good for all parties involved.

3) Project Schedule (Work Breakdown Structure) and Resource Plans

A Project schedule does not have to be complicated but should a visualization that will easily point out these three things.How long is the project going to take and what are the phases? Don’t get caught in big bang approaches. You want to start showing value as quick as possible, on short sprints, and with increasing functionality. You do not want to get to the end of a 9 month project, and find that none of the expected functionality and value has been implemented. The iterative approach may seem to extend the timeline, but it almost always shortens the full length of the project.What does the resource plan look like? Know who the players are, what are they doing, and what are their deliverables (including samples if you can). Look for resource overhead that matches your organization’s expectations. If its a simple project in a simple organization then you may find 0-20% overhead fairly common (basic project management). However, if your organization requires a lot of project management alignment, detailed documentation, increased UAT or burn-in time, or lots of change management then expect to see upwards of 50% overhead. Be realistic and don’t underestimate the need.Do you know your own resource plan? How many people are you going to have to pull out of work during the design session? If they are not available this will extend the contractor’s hours. If this is a teach to fish approach (which it should be), how many people will you need to dedicate to meet the project goals? Make sure your resource planning matches your expectations of budget and schedule.

4) Out of box functionality.

But 80% of functionality is really standard accross all industries, especially companies within each industry. That means that you should focus only on what makes your business unique. Otherwise you will be spending money trying to recreate a very proven well designed wheel.With that said, the key thing to focus on in an SOW is the differences. The extra 20% of customizations makes up more than the 80% additional cost. Make sure the proposals separate these costs out. This is good for all parties because it will help you understand why something that you thought might cost $10K now cost $1.5M. Every change in base functionality comes with a hourly cost to build plus overhead.

5) Adoption planning

Adoption plans are often an afterthought; left out or minimized in 90+% of SOWs I have seen. You bought into the value of the product but now you need to focus on how you are going to get the value. Skimping here can have much greater costs down the road. While it is ultimately your responsibility to lead the adoption, let the experts provide the guidance. Adoption planning starts at the beginning of every project with proper communication planning, marketing, champion growth, stakeholder involvement, rolling out training plans, etc. The additional effort here will be absolutely essential to the overall success and ROI of your project. Define the appropriate amount based on the business outcomes and vision, but make sure you have a clear outline of how adoption planning will be delivered.

Following these 5 tips will help drive strong communication between you and the consultant. This kind of communication and clear expectations up front will make for a much more successful project and happier stakeholders. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (Benjamin Franklin).

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