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Topic: statement of work

Democratizing IT Project Delivery with Statement of Work


5 minute read

By Ian C. Tomlin

ITproject delivery has a well-earned reputation for overruns and budget overspends, so much so that many line of business leaders are reluctant to become project leaders. In the digital era, the need to custom-build business apps is unavoidable. Businesses compete on the quality and painlessness of their customers’ experiences. The journey from curious site visitor to buyer must be personalized and utterly faultless.

No hard-coded app built to serve the many can be reinvigorated and adapted sufficiently to meet these demands, leading to businesses’ insatiable thirst for custom apps. Fortunately, new low-code/no-code cloud platforms like ServiceNow, Encanvas, Appian, Mendix and OutSystems were born to serve these needs. But how do you manage the projects, and who delivers them?

Why IT projects fail

In my research on IT project delivery for the past 20 years, I have encountered four big culprits behind project failure that repeatedly take IT projects into a prolonged tail spin. They are:

Talent shortfalls

Even with dexterous no-code development toolkits, you need competent front-and-back-end developers, cloud cool kids, AI nerds, data gurus and coding masters to configure and tune your apps.

Bad coding

Building apps, even no-code ones, is never easy! You still need competent technologists with the right experiences to guide them, and those are in short supply.

Data quality

It sounds trivial, but data is often the Moriarty to your Sherlock Holmes as the major culprit that consistently derails IT projects. IT projects nearly always rely on data served up from third-party apps or the ones you already have. In an interconnected digital business ecosystem, an app working in isolation is almost unheard of.

Bad planning and project management

IT projects are multifaceted, and scope creep is common. Inevitably, original concepts and features must adapt to users’ experiences. Anyone involved in app development before knows that the design brief requested on the first day will show no resemblance to the final product.

A McKinsey report found, “Poor project definition and unclear objectives are among the top reasons why projects fail, contributing to a 29% chance of exceeding budget and timelines.”

Getting IT projects delivered requires a rethink

At least the industry has learned from 30 years of app development project failures. It knows that running projects itself in-house is a major burden and distraction to core business priorities that drive business growth and innovation.

Nowadays, managers need to prioritize their time looking outwardly towards customers’ wants and needs over the internal wranglings of their business engine. It knows that outsourcing IT project delivery to a third party (think Fujitsu and the recent Post Office IT project debacle) is a recipe for disaster. All that happens is finding top IT talent to run projects becomes a problem handed over to someone who faces the same IT project delivery challenges I’ve just mentioned—plus a few more.

The solution comes in the form of rethinking the way IT projects work. IT project delivery has been transformed by the gig economy. Flexible working enables both companies and workers to achieve increased agility and control over how and when they work. However, traditional contingent hiring practices are hindering this progress.

Companies struggle with sourcing talent, managing projects, and tracking progress, often leading to missed deadlines and budget overruns. Workers, on the other hand, face unclear expectations and anxieties around successful completion.

The good news is that there’s a solution. Statement of Work (SOW) contracting offers a way to bridge the gap between companies and contingent workers by establishing clear expectations from the very beginning. SOW serves as a roadmap, detailing project goals, deliverables, timelines, and payment terms. By implementing SOW contracting, companies can streamline their contingent workforce management processes and ensure everyone involved is on the same page.

Contingent hiring has been a challenge

The frustrations of traditional contingent hiring extend far beyond mere inconvenience.

Ambiguous project scopes and unclear expectations create a ripple effect of negativity that impacts both companies and workers. For companies, the lack of clearly defined project goals from the outset often leads to increased administrative burden. Hiring managers spend excessive time clarifying requirements and managing communication with contingent workers throughout the project. This inefficiency can snowball into missed deadlines as project scope creep becomes a frequent occurrence.

Without a clear understanding of deliverables, companies risk accepting incomplete work or facing unexpected revisions, ultimately leading to budget overruns.

Workers, on the other hand, experience justified frustration when project expectations are unclear. They may spend valuable time clarifying requirements with different stakeholders, leading to delays and hindering their productivity.

The uncertainty associated with loosely defined projects can also lead to wasted effort, as workers may unknowingly complete tasks outside the original scope. Perhaps the most significant impact is on worker morale. Anxiety around successful completion and payment becomes a constant concern when project goals and success criteria are ambiguous. This lack of clarity can lead to a sense of disengagement and ultimately hinder the quality of work delivered. Luckily there is a solution

Statement of work, at its core, defines the project’s scope of work. This includes a detailed breakdown of the deliverables – the specific tasks or outputs expected from the contingent worker. SOW establishes clear timelines, ensuring everyone involved is on the same page regarding deadlines and project milestones, as well as clearly outlining the payment terms, specifying how and when the contingent worker will be compensated for their work. This eliminates ambiguity and uncertainty around payment, boosting worker confidence and morale.

How SOW helps companies

For companies, SOWs bring a number of significant advantages.

Firstly, they significantly reduce administrative burden. By clearly defining project expectations upfront, companies eliminate the need for constant clarification and communication throughout the contingent worker journey. This frees up valuable time and resources for hiring managers and allows them to focus on core business activities.

Secondly, SOW promotes improved project clarity and communication. With everyone aligned on project goals and deliverables, communication becomes more streamlined. Companies can track progress more effectively and ensure that projects stay on track and within budget.

Finally, SOWs facilitate streamlined workflows and budget control. By clearly defining project scope and timelines, companies can create more accurate project budgets and avoid costly surprises down the line.

Everest Group research suggests that organizations can achieve a 10-20% reduction in administrative costs associated with contingent workforce management through SOW processes.

How SOW helps workers

The advantages for contingent workers are equally compelling. SOWs provide workers with a clear understanding of project expectations and success criteria. They know exactly what is expected of them, how their work will be measured, and what constitutes a successful project completion. This clarity eliminates anxiety and empowers workers to deliver high quality results with confidence. Furthermore, SOWs ensure that workers are paid on time and according to the agreed-upon terms. The clear definition of payment terms within the SOW fosters trust and creates a more positive work experience.

Overall, SOW contracting fosters a collaborative environment where both companies and workers can thrive. By establishing clear expectations from the outset, SOWs pave the way for successful project completion, improved morale, and a more productive contingent work ecosystem.

Embracing technology is key

Technology is evolving and it is now easier than ever to automate the processes in the contractor job journey. By embracing SOW contracting, companies can leverage technology to transform the contingent worker experience. At USTech Digital, we understand the transformative power of SOW contracting in the contingent work landscape.

We go beyond simply advocating for SOWs; we offer a comprehensive suite of solutions designed to streamline SOW management and empower both companies and workers. Unlike traditional static platforms that simply act as job boards, USTech Digital focuses on the entire journey of the contingent worker. We support contingent workers throughout their career, rather than as a one-off. This means that instead of workers seeing one role as a single job and suffer the often tedious process of reapplying for new roles, they’re able to build strong relationships with organizations. This helps give the worker job certainty and reduce the time taken to find new roles, as well as giving the organization access to a pool of workers that are already familiar with their organization.

The skilled and flexible contingent workforce is invaluable. However, traditional contingent hiring practices often fall short, leading to frustration and inefficiency for both companies and workers. SOW is the solution. By establishing clear expectations upfront, SOWs pave the way for successful project completion, improved project clarity, streamlined workflows, and a more positive contingent work experience for everyone.

Are you ready to embrace the advantage of SOW contracting? USTech Digital is here to guide you on the journey. Our innovative SOW services and comprehensive contingent workforce management solutions empower companies and workers to thrive.

Contact us today and discover how USTech Digital can help you unlock the full potential of your contingent workforce.