Few realize that Statements of Work (SoWs) annually transact £680bn ($893bn US dollars) of non-permanent work in professional services. Not only is this trend increasing by 16% every year, COVID-19 is responsible for an additional and accelerated increase (see IPSE).1 It is therefore critical that we fix what’s wrong with SoWs, and from what we’re learning now, you probably agree.
Maybe you’ve already discovered that SoWs are too often poorly written, rarely read and even ignored until a problem arises to cast a glare into the face of an SoW writer. That is precisely why our two organizations -- the Microsoft-funded tech startup Deployed and World Commerce & Contracting (WorldCC)2 -- are partnering to end these costly, but preventable, issues.
So, what is the SoW problem?
Based on research with more than 12,000 organizations, WorldCC has identified poorly defined scope as the most frequent source of disputes, impacting 40% of SoW-related projects. Research also shows that SoW authors often rely on the commercial and pricing structure best known to them. But this is not necessarily the most appropriate approach for the type of work they are doing, the organization they work for, or industry they are in. Costly and risky work engagements or contracting processes too often result from misaligned SoW practices.
We have aligned World Commerce & Contracting’s expertise in Contract and Commercial Management with Deployed’s technological innovation to become thought leaders on the topic of Commercial Automation.3 Our collaboration will produce a knowledge-driven decision support tool that guides SoW authors to the right commercial and pricing structure based on the answers they provide.
Developing focus groups
Our SoW project uses expertise of focus groups working on one or more of the following commercial models:
- time and material
- fixed price
- cost plus
- performance and outcome-based
- use-based / As-a-Service / Cloud-based
These expert focus groups will research, discuss, and discover how, when, and why these models are currently used. We also seek anecdotes (actual experiences or lessons learned) from professionals who have used these models in either a wrong or right setting. The focus groups will then play a key role in helping to build a unique tool driven by first-hand knowledge that works for the people who use the tool.
Using key information and findings from the focus groups, Deployed will then extract the factors and variables that underpin the decision context behind each model. From this, we will build, test, and iterate decision trees, or decision support tools, that guide the SoW author to the appropriate commercial structure. Conversational question sets based on these decision trees will be built into the Deployed platform to guide SoW authors to the right commercial model, reducing the risk of selecting the wrong model for a specified work project.
This is the first of what we hope will be a series of articles about the project and the exciting partnership between the World Commerce & Contracting and Deployed. If, in the meantime, you would like to learn more about the work we’re doing or how you get involved, then please do get in touch with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deployed is a female-founded tech startup organization whose mission is to tackle the issue of how people write, agree, and execute Statements of Work (SoW). Part questionnaire, part document assembly and part no-code platform, Deployed software takes the best ideas from customers’ favorite productivity apps and rolls them into one seamless, guided scoping tool.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Kayleigh Kuptz is the COO and Co-Founder of Deployed, a pre-signature, commercial automation platform. Deployed is a Scope of Work automation that gets people working together faster. My goal is to turn dust gathering, shelf-dwelling Statements of Work into a delightful digital experience.
Sophie Parslow is Conversational Design Lead at Deployed and a PhD Candidate in Conversation Analysis at Loughborough University. Sophie makes sure that we ask the right questions, in the right way, in order to guide the user to the best outcomes.
- Ref IPSE: Independent Professionals and Self Employed - UK and US
- Deployed and World Commerce & Contracting company websites.