How to read and decipher an SOW
Let's face it, we all live and die by the Statement of Work (SOW). Estimates are the lifeblood of how any firm operates. How you decipher them puts you in the driver's seat, so long as you know what to look for and how to make sure you're getting what you need. In order to work with external providers, understanding the SOW and having clarity on deliverables is key. As with any legally binding document, a contractor should carefully review each SOW before signing.
When it comes to partnering with or hiring an outside Provider, allotting the time to review the SOW is essential. Modern executives lead busy lives and don't have the time to go over the details of every document that passes across their desk. While they may have existing relationships with Contractors, blind "trust" in what's been submitted is no reason to sign a SOW. This is especially true when considering virtually all SOW's today have significant 'terms and conditions' that can affect delivery.
Wasted time and money can stem from misunderstandings in the SOW. We take this very seriously at Venuiti. We've seen a lot of what is known as "provider abuse", when the outside agency takes advantage of a variety of companies. In many cases, we have even stepped in to solve a situation that resulted from this poor documentation.
However, we're also a contractor. We apply our own expectations to the SOWs we write because we believe our partners deserve no less than what we would demand ourselves. So, we thought it would be good to share our checklist of what we look for in an SOW before we sign on the dotted line:
Comprehensive list of project deliverables
Companies will sometimes sign such SOW's assuming they are getting the correct deliverable, and although tedious, the best agencies understand that SOWs should break down, line by line, the exact deliverables on a project.While a lot of reading and technical terms can cause complaints from the outsourcing company, at the end of the day, the benefits of a proper SOW are invaluable. An easy way to make this less tedious, is to use pictures or graphics helps to break up the volume of writing. It is the contractor's job to set strict standards on what is expected from SOWs, and to not sign anything until such standards are met. We even recommend using an in-house template to ensure the proper delivery of information. It may take a little more work up-front, but will alleviate major headaches in the future.
Importance of deadlines in the workplace
What are the support services?
- If things go wrong or if you have questions, how much will it cost to deal with it?
- What package should you get and why?
- Is support part of the contract?
- If so, what level of support? If not, is there a possible discounted support package?
If this is not addressed in the SOW, a contractor can find themselves in a position where urgent support is needed, and have no choice but to pay exorbitant fees.
Are there any hidden fees?
At Venuiti, we've learned to watch out for these surprises. But, more importantly, we believe in straightforward detail that clearly identifies what our Contractors/Partners will be getting. That's why when we develop SOW's we keep our checklist open in front of the writers. We hate abuse so we ensure we deliver clarity every time.
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