In a prior article, I discussed considerations when implementing a statement-of-work management-enabling technology. But before you get to that point, there’s a lot that must be addressed. Here are a few key areas:

Pain points. A first step is to define the current pain points that automation may mitigate and/or eliminate in your SOW engagement management efforts. Otherwise described as “failure modes,” these are gaps or weaknesses in the process that are failing to produce the required level of results expected by the SOW engagement manager and other stakeholders. This might amount to failures in financial and risk management or simple enhancements in project scope — the number one failure mode in SOW engagement management.

The idea here is to engage the technology in process weak spots to better enable the CW program’s management of these pain points. Codifying the current process with its pain points and conducting a poor reengineering process will severely limit the management enhancements available.

Current scope. The next important consideration is understanding the current SOW management strategy scope and how it might scale in the future. Two important points here are:

  1. What will be the scope of the solution applied to SOW engagements governed by the CW program — and what are the process steps, and even types of engagements, that the CW program will manage now and in the future?
  2. Because most first steps for employing technology in SOW management involve simply tracking SOW engagement activity, considerations need to be made for scaling the maturity/capabilities of the SOW management initiative over time. From there, an informed CW program manager makes practical, informed steps into how SOW engagement management will be deployed with a multi-phase approach in growing this management service capability.

Align with framework. Also key is to align the SOW technology with current (“as-is”) and planned (“desired”) management framework and legacy systems infrastructure.  Services procurement or other corporate program resources currently managing SOW engagement activity are doing so with a certain level of best practice competency. Some of this management framework and the legacy management systems used to deploy that framework will serve as foundational best practice elements moving-forward. Hence, an integration with these established legacy systems and adoption of some current SOW management framework will need to take place as a matter of competent leverage on the part of the CW program leadership. The adoption of some new SOW management technologies will still take place, but so might the leverage of some current processes, policies and the management technologies that support those SOW management frameworks.

There will be many measurement points to address and manage once “failure modes/pain points” in the “as-is” process are inventoried.  With this focus, the deployment of an SOW management-enabling tool is to install an array of “detective and protective” control management elements that will empower the execution of the CW program’s management strategy to mitigate and/or eliminate these pain points.

A detective control is identifying noncompliance (performance or otherwise) after the fact, while a protective control is preventing deficiencies (performance or otherwise) from occurring in the first place, proactively. Most of these management control points that should be set up in the technology management-enabled management process are generated by discovery process that identified SOW management pain points. Once that is clearly understood, then effective detective and proactive controls can be customized for the specific SOW management process envisioned.

Visibility. Next is to determine the required SOW management visibility in order to design the required data model in the deployment of the management-enabling tool. The time to set up management visibility of reporting and dashboards occurs during the configuration period of the SOW management technology. Decisions concerning what, when, where and why certain management visibility is required will need to be decided during the planning implementation phase of the technology deployment in order to create the best visibility management in the SOW management tool’s curated data model.

Funding. This final consideration has not yet sorted itself out in the marketplace, but it will need to be addressed: determining a fair/realistic SOW governing technology funding model. Whether only tracking SOW activity/spend in an organization or deploying a complete SOW management process utility, there will be multiple costs involved with integrating this technology into the SOW management process. For example: the cost of the deployment team, implementation and integration, service/license fees, ongoing training, upgrades and ongoing maintenance fees.

The funding choices range from supplier-funded to the CW program absorbing these costs. A third choice along this spectrum is splitting the costs among the parties that receive the value of the technology, also known as a hybrid funding option. In some fashion, that is not so visible as of yet, these types of costs are being absorbed by the process and the parties involved. The question is how CW programs will manage the required funding of new governance frameworks and expansion into new CW spend management categories. The ultimate decision may rest in the perceived added value/cost savings created by the new CW program governance model deployed by all the stakeholders involved. An added value that engagement managers and SOW solution providers feel they believe is valuable enough to pay for.