Creating a well-defined Statement of Work in collaboration with your client is of utmost importance. It's not only the formal agreement between both parties; it's the roadmap, timeline, scope, and budget. It's essentially everything related to the project, i.e., the starting point of the foundation. Thus, it should be no surprise that a well-defined Statement of Work is crucial to run a great project. Delivering a product that your client will be satisfied with, and a project that is profitable and satisfactory for your business.
Utilizing the Statement of Work is just as important as the process it takes to create it. What is the point in spending time building a well-defined Statement of Work (SOW), if you don't utilize it during the execution of the project? It's necessary to include your full team. Why? Well, everybody needs to know the scope and the processes of the project. Without this alignment, your deliverability, reliability and not to mention your profitability can significantly suffer. For example, what happens when the client asks a team member to make a change, or implement a new request? It just so happens that the request is slightly outside of the scope. What processes are in place to help your team? Your whole team must know what is inside and outside of the project scope.
Moving into concrete action points, the job concerning utilizing the Statement of Work breaks into two segments, the Project Manager, and the Team Members. Ultimately, running a successful project is a collaboration between managers, team members, and the client.
As the Project Manager on a project, your responsibility is to make sure everything runs according to plan, i.e., according to the SOW. It's not so easy making sure that the tasks completed are all within the scope, that your resources are optimally utilized, that the project stays within the budget, and that the final deliverable is ready and handed-over as planned and agreed with your client. Talk about juggling, right? Though, this is precisely why the SOW should be utilized throughout the project, think of it as the project overview. It is easier to manage the roadmap now that you have already agreed to the terms, timeline, and scope of the project.
You can't do this alone though. It's not magic. It's a collaboration with your team. You need to make sure that every single team member - no matter how many you are- understands the purpose of the project, the vision and use case of the final deliverable. It's your job to communicate to everybody about the project scope so they understand what would be within the scope and what would be outside the scope. It's vital that every person knows their role and how they operate within the agreed SOW of the project.
In other words, each team member needs to know the general purpose and vision of the project as well as their own chunk of which they're responsible. Of course, if you're running a more extensive project, you probably have different teams lead by Team Managers with specific responsibilities within the scope, that will also need to be overseen. Every single person needs to know the purpose and scope.
As a team member on a project, it is of utmost importance that you understand the purpose and vision of the project and the final deliverable. Not only the part you are individually responsible for, but the general use case of the final product as seen from the end-user's viewpoint. Having an understanding of the purpose makes you able to deliver precisely, or at least as close as possible, to the vision and idea of your client.
Understanding the scope of the project is crucial to make sure you're working on the right things, at the right time. The project, the team, and the organization are all dependent on the work that you complete. Moving outside of the scope can put your whole project at risk of failing, being delayed, or breaking the budget. It is more critical to utilize the SOW to avoid moving outside of the scope. So, there is no need to stress fellow team members or the organization as a whole. Even if you're not the project manager or the team lead, you can always refer back to the SOW.
Concrete action points you can take during your work; is always to keep the purpose of the project in mind. What is the use case from my client's point of view? What is the most important task to work on right now for a thriving team and project? And, if you receive a request from your client; discuss it with at least one person, and briefly consider whether this task is relevant and within the scope of the project. If you're not the right person to answer this question; ask your project or team lead.
How do you make sure that this actually happens? Well, alignment meetings are critical, but another very effective step to take is to incorporate a complete Project and Resource Management tool. One that not only manages one part of the process but one that embraces the full project process. A Professional Service Automation (PSA) solution for initial planning, through the workflow, billing, and evaluation of the project and business performance to the final deliverability.
Forecast is an example of a PSA platform. Streamlining the process of setting up a project, defining the scope, milestones, and the tasks that need to be completed. Moving tasks into the implementation stage, or sprints, for the team to begin working. Managing the budget and timeline, as well as resources and utilization levels. Ultimately, improving your performance, delivering projects on time, scope, and budget. Not the mention giving your client an in-the-moment overview by indulging them and yourself in business insights.
A tool that functions as the one-stop hub for everything project and resource related. You can also manage scope creep using the built-in approval process. Letting you draft tasks, get estimates of time and costs, and approve or disapprove the task for implementation. As a project manager, you can quickly set up an extended sales proposal with expenses and resources taken into account. Forecast allows for collaboration between departments, team members, and even with your client making it easier to utilize and stay on top of the SOW. What to learn more about a good Statement of Work or how do avoid Scope Creep? Check out more blog posts below to help you optimize your project management processes.
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