You Don’t Learn to Drive in a Ferrari

With SIA’s CWS Summit Europe on the horizon, KellyOCG’s Paul Vincent talks SOW and how getting back to basics could help organisations create a smarter talent approach.

By  |  April 23, 2018

The European CWS Summit is rapidly approaching and I can’t wait to get started! I’m excited to hear innovative ideas, connect with old faces and new, and see how organisations are deploying contingent talent for competitive advantage. I’d also love to see evidence that organisations are really challenging how they work across functional lines to ensure the consistent adoption of best practices and new technologies. Essentially, I want to be made to really sit up and listen!

On day one of the CWS Summit, I am thrilled to have been invited to be part of a panel discussing SOW strategy. The Strategy of Winners – from SOW Efficiency to Effectiveness will see David Swift, Novartis; William Johnson, Openside Group; Sarah-Jayne Aldridge, M&G Prudential, and myself tackling the key elements of SOW success. The panel will be overseen by Peter Reagan of SIA, one of the best mediators in the industry. It’s always a pleasure to share the stage with such prestigious colleagues and I’m sure the subject will lead to some lively debate! 

Preparing for the panel got me thinking about some of the common missteps organisations make when it comes to SOW. One of the most frequent things I see is that organisations adopt a ‘control’ rather than ‘enabling’ mind-set. It is crucial that stakeholder engagement/adoption is put front and centre of any SOW management strategy and that the ‘why’ is obvious to the people who are consuming the services. This is the most basic building block of SOW success. Think of it like this - you wouldn’t learn to drive in a Ferrari, instead you learn to drive in something solid, reliable, safe. Your mum’s no-nonsense hatchback. The same principles apply to SOW, get the basics of internal engagement right and the rest will follow.

So, what else is core to a winning SOW strategy?

One Size NEVER Fits All

Organisations don’t buy “SOW” – it is just a contracting mechanism – instead they buy the services covered by the SOW. Treating all outcome based services equivalently is not going to deliver best value – you must consider marketing differently from IT and differently from legal or financial services etc. 

Fit for purpose commercials 

I am always surprised when people describe the difference between temporary staffing and SOW as being the commercial model i.e. one is based on time and materials and the other is a fixed price! This is just not true. There are many instances where time and materials absolutely represents the most appropriate fee structure for an outcome based service – for example when it isn’t clear how much upfront data analysis may be required. 

Defining best value

The perception of value is subjective and it will vary depending on a person’s position in the buying process. At the end of the day though it is the budget holder who has to decide what best value means – procurement professionals who imply (even unwittingly) that they can spend their stakeholder’s money better than they can themselves will not get very far along the engagement/adoption curve. 

A candid relationship with service providers is key

Many SOW service providers are only as good as their last project. Additionally, if employed multiple times across the same organisation then this performance feedback may be filtered through a situational lens that is more to do with the challenges/mentality of their client.  With this in mind it is important to get two way feedback after an assignment or project completes. 

I hope you can join me at SIA’s CWS Summit Europe in London on April 24th and 25th 2018. If you’re there please come and say hello, I’d love to hear your thoughts on SOW best practice and strategy!

Paul Vincent has global product management responsibility for KellyOCG’s Contingent Workforce Outsourcing services such as Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Statement of Work (SOW). He is also responsible for developing and articulating the company's go-to-market strategy around Talent Supply Chain Management (which embraces all forms of permanent and flexible resourcing).  

CWS Summit Europe is the premier conference for HR & Procurement professionals across Europe. Geared towards collaboration and innovation, the conference provides the opportunity for industry colleagues across the contingent talent community to learn, network, benchmark, and evolve.

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