The Project Notebook

Look Before the Project – Part III

For the last two weeks, we looked at two different ways to evaluate project selections to determine which to work on. This type of activity is often carried out by senior management and not the project manager. The project manager is usually involved once the project charter has been developed. A special form of project charter is the Statement of Work or SOW. Its often associated with a contract and describes in detail the work or services to be performed. I always use a SOW on a consulting engagement.

I almost called this post “where’s the contract?” I sometimes hear “I didn’t know I bought that” — well the good project manager always checks the contract and SOW first to understand the project and what is involved. If you’ve been “knighted” as the project manager, the SOW is a good document to request.

The SOW can also be a tool to set expectations. There is always a great deal of uncertainty when projects start. Sales doesn’t always have a complete picture of what the client wants. The SOW can be used to highlight the key facts about the project and the accompanying contract. I always like to break my SOW into two parts — the initiation or discovery phase and the actual work or execution.

By starting with a requirements collection process, I can walk the client through what they’ve purchased. This very often leads to additional products and services because on the whole, I’ve found clients underestimate their needs during the sales process. This may not lead to an immediate additional purchase of product or service, but it does allow me to present a future “phase 2” which to follow up with incomplete functionality. It also allows me to very clearly indicate what is and is not in the scope of the project. Each scope change can be evaluated and presented to the client for additional consideration.
Click here to download a sample SOW I’ve used for many years in MS Word. Note that the SOW also clearly spells out key roles and responsibilities and timelines.
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© 2010-2012 Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP, CCP