You have decided to get into the business of managing statement-of-work engagements, and now you need an SOW management metric plan. What do you need to consider for that?

The multiple stakeholders, types of SOW partners and engagements, and basic program performance management dimensions will make the development of an effective metric plan more complicated than one would ever prefer. The development of a staff augmentation management metric plan will look pretty straight forward in comparison.

Be selective. The first consideration is making sure whatever you measure is essential in an effort to reduce the complexity of your metric plan. An SOW metric plan can get overwhelmed easily by the multiple segmentation perspectives inherent in a portfolio of SOW engagement activity. For example, there will be different types of SOW engagements and different types of providers that can be managed with some common management metrics. But these different types of engagements and solution providers might also require different metrics that take into account special engagement and deliverable characteristics.

By their very nature, SOW engagements can have far-ranging deliverable characteristics that may require different milestone phases and qualification development steps. If we simply segment SOW engagements by projects and services, the metrics management requirements will obviously be different in nature and form. This performance management perspective segmentation can also carry over to type of provider, which could range from large, established management consulting organization to a standalone, independent contractor. Should there be some customization to the performance measurement and analysis of these different type of SOW solution providers/partners? Some metric customization seems to be naturally required here.

QECR. Another consideration for an SOW management metric plan is covering the four basic performance dimensions expressed in Staffing Industry Analysts’ QECR Performance Management Framework: Quality, Efficiency, Costs and Risks. It seems fundamental that there would be some management metric visibility on these four performance dimensions by professional, contingent workforce program management.  This viewpoint provides performance visibility coverage by the costs effectiveness, risk mitigation, process efficiency management and, ultimately, quality of the SOW project and/or service engagement deliverable(s). Some of this QECR performance management perspective is inherent in the standard milestones and SOW engagement deliverable requirements, which stipulate cost limits, deliverable deadlines, quality specifications of the deliverable(s) and, to some degree, what risk mitigation is taking place to produce the final deliverable(s). The primary point here is making sure at the engagement and program level, there are metrics and methodology to track and manage SOW spend activity for QCER performance management.

Make it count. If a CW program management professional just implemented all the basic SOW performance management metric plan considerations discussed, one will produce a fairly comprehensive, but potentially complicated metric performance management plan. The downside of this deployment is potential confusion of purpose for SOW program stakeholders and supply-chain/solution partners. Having too many unfocused/purposeless metrics leads to lack of understanding SOW program management priorities and degrades the focus on the program’s mission and goals.

The key best practice fundamental is weighing the purpose and value of each metric deployed. What kind of visibility will be created and what purpose will that visibility be used for? Another best practice is segmenting the actual visibility of the metrics portfolio itself to external and internal management viewpoints. Externally released management metrics results are those you want to focus and drive partner attention/performance, while internal measures are for the overall required viewpoint of the CW Program management team.

Automate. Once your SOW performance management metric plan is designed and ready for deployment, it needs to be executed with as much automation as possible. The metric segmentation perspectives just discussed will make the execution of an SOW performance management metric plan innately complicated to curate. Hence, a majority of the data collection needs to be efficient and easily accessible to create effective visibility of the CW Program’s SOW engagement management activity.

This automation should also extend to standard, basic analysis in order to enhance to speed to action in the management of SOW engagement activity. Finally, automated basic analysis should be leverage to drive specially curated dashboards for key stakeholders of the SOW management program and the CW program management team/supply-chain partners.

Certainly, SOW engagement costs management, milestones and the final deliverable specs will be quintessential performance management metrics at the engagement management level. But other performance management metrics have to earn their right to be included in the SOW performance management metric plan. Each needs to offer visibility that can drive change actions for SOW program management or engagement improvement. Otherwise, they are just confusing and do not offer opportunities to control and change the circumstances of the SOW management initiative achieving its mission and goals.

For the purposes of this article, it is assumed that your SOW management initiative’s mission, goals, strategy, engagement coverage, process/services scope, integration of supply-chain/corporate function partners and activity visibility plan have all been defined and sorted out.