SOW and Program Management: Metrics and Measurements that Make Sense

A few weeks ago, we joined Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) to present a webinar all about services management. As the saying goes, you can't manage what you can't measure. This is especially true when it comes to incorporating Statement of Work (SOW)-based projects and labor into a flexible workforce program. But what are the most appropriate measurements to consider when implementing this critical spend category? How can you build a sustainable strategy?

To kick off the session, SIA went back to basics by defining SOW. Its definition is a document that captures the products and services, including, but not limited to: the work activities and deliverables to be supplied under a contract or as part of a project timeline. In contrast to a typical temp or contingent work arrangement which is billed based on time worked, SOW agreements are typically based on a fixed price deliverable or for hitting specific milestones.

For years in our industry, SOW has been referred to as an "emerging category of spend." But the reality is it's here and it's important. Businesses today are spending three times as much on SOW-based labor than temporary workers and we're seeing 20% growth in SOW spend overall.

SOW Global Services

When deciding how to incorporate SOW into your program, we believe the best tactic is definition as foundation. Take the time to clearly define program goals, labor channels and what success means for your organization. Important questions to ask yourself for each of these categories include:

  • Program goals: who stands to gain the most benefit? What's most important to our organization (i.e. cost, efficiency, etc.)? How do I translate this into measureable targets? What is attainable?
  • Labor channels: where and how are you using SOW-based labor and services? What does proper spend categorization look like for our business?
  • Success: how closely do our program operations align to our corporate goals? What is the data telling me about my overall direction?

By answering these questions, you can enable your program's success through strategic planning at the outset.

"From the very beginning, we tried to sit down and take a look at our program goals. Where did we want to go? For us, we needed clear labor definitions so that we would be able to optimize those channels - getting the right people, at the right time, at the right price to complete projects." 
- Sarah Tyre, SVP, Vendor Manager, Global Human Resources at Bank of America