DPM School: Week 5 – Statements of Work

Generic assumptions, specific assumptions, and negative assumptions. Here are all the juicy details wrapped up in one document.

By Profit Idowu

On December 7, 2019
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What Defines In or Out?
A Master Services Agreement can define terms between one or more parties. In my experience working on them, I’ve noticed they also contain a lot of legalese. What’s included in an MSA varies from organization to organization and contains topics like payment terms, annual agency fees, or exclusivity to certain types of work. It can even reach granular levels like detailing staffing allocations. MSA’s pair with Statements of Work to define what’s in or out on a project by project basis. I thought this week wasn’t going to be very exciting, but it actually allowed me to practice some new tricks. Week 5 brought important principles to follow when creating SoWs, what you should include in your SoWs, and what you can exclude. How to create a statement of work, put a statement of work checklist into action, and how to use the SoW to keep the project on track.

Adding A Bit of Color
Many of the documents business professionals draft are made with a utilitarian approach. The least of these, but most important are documents that suffer from a lack of design love like MSA’s and SOWs. Sometimes lengthy, they don’t include any color or images. I have yet to encounter a business professional that runs across a plain black and white document and says, “Oh, yes! This SOW is beautiful!” Normally, documents like this don’t make you feel any type of elation (and I know they’re not supposed to), but wouldn’t it be great if we worked at places that put just as much care into the documents they craft as the projects they put out in the world? I’m a big fan of good design and craft. When you come across good work in the world, it hits different.

via GIPHY

And SOWs should be no different. Ben encouraged all DPM’s this week to put a little feeling into the work and switch up the normal approach. I took this to heart and the SOW project for the week turned out better than I had hoped.

There was a word document template provided, but I opted not to use it. I’d recommend breaking format and developing or using a template of your own.

Highlights of the Week
In the Peergrade system, only two classmates are able to grade your work every week. The two classmates who reviewed my assignment showed out with some of the best feedback I’ve received all course on a difficult assignment.

One thing I thought was interesting that stood out in our glossary terms was a formal name for the cause of scope creep—gold-plating. Gold-plating is defined as scope creep that is our fault. It’s when someone on your team wants to do an awesome job and starts over-delivering and giving the client more than they paid for. Going the extra mile and executing with quality is wonderful, but not when it’s not accounted for and starts eating into expectations (and funds) because it wasn’t warranted. Then putting your project and organization at large at risk.

Recommended Reading & Resources
Here were the recommended articles that served as supplemental resources for this week:

Week 6 is about managing and controlling projects. Focusing on staying calm, critically assessing situations, the options, and staying solutions focused when a project goes off the rails. Being able to stand in the pocket and still make the throw is what separates the project coordinators from the project managers—building confidence to deal with all kinds of tricky situations.