When it comes to software projects and other SaaS-related services engagements, getting a Statement (or “Scope”) of Work (SOW) approved can sometimes feel like a marathon. There are several reasons behind the lengthy approval process, and understanding these factors can help you navigate the challenges more effectively.
Here are 6 reasons why SaaS professional service SOWs require lengthy approval times, with solutions to help mitigate this drastically…
- Divide and Simplify
Software projects are inherently complex, often involving intricate technical details and multifaceted requirements. Capturing all this complexity in a comprehensive SOW takes time and effort, and sometimes there’s simply no way around it.
The Solution: Phases
While the complexity of the project itself is often unchangeable, the process for which it’s executed and broken down within an SOW can be simplified. If possible, divide the project into distinct phases, each with its own set of deliverables and milestones. This not only simplifies the SOW but also allows for more efficient progress tracking and client engagement throughout the project.
- Lofty Expectations
Clients often have specific expectations for their software projects. Aligning these expectations with the capabilities and resources of your team requires thorough negotiation and discussion. This can often lead to back and forth with approval teams as SOW language is modified multiple times.
The Solution: Create a streamlined scoping process
The issue here is that scoping a project is often a back and forth process where details are added to the SOW manually. Leading PS teams utilize advanced tools that allow resources, add-ons, and modifications to existing PS configs to be made in a matter of clicks (learn how WorkRails handles this with our configuration engine). Beyond tools, PS teams can conduct comprehensive workshops with key client stakeholders to uncover hidden requirements and preferences to minimize the number of scoping sessions.
- Legal Trouble
SOWs must adhere to legal and compliance standards, which can involve time-consuming reviews and approvals from legal and compliance departments.
The Solution: Templates
PS teams need to work with these departments to create a standardized SOW template that adheres to all relevant regulations. Taking this a step further, you can create multiple templates with varying language to cover each type of service offering. The goal should be to drastically reduce the need to manually adjust key terms or legal clauses within each and every SOW, thereby allowing much faster approval workflows.
- Multiple Stakeholders
SOWs typically involve a multitude of stakeholders, including project managers, developers, quality assurance teams, and business analysts. Coordinating their input and feedback can add unneeded time to the approval process.
Solution: Project Teams and Centralized Project Views
The key here is fostering faster and more effective transparency and collaboration between stakeholder teams. Firstly, establish a cross-functional project team consisting of representatives from all relevant departments. Then, ensure project details and SOW drafts can be quickly seen, commented on, and approved by this team in a centralized, digital process. WorkRails handles this with our SOW draft history and approval workflow capabilities.
- Budget and Resource Juggling
Financial considerations are integral to the SOW, including budget allocation and resource planning. Ensuring alignment with the company’s financial constraints and resource availability often demands careful consideration and negotiation.
The Solution: Dynamic Budget Model
Go beyond a basic budget breakdown. Create a dynamic budget model that adjusts in real-time as project variables change. Many PS teams use free tools like Google Sheets to do this, but free tools are often difficult to keep up-to-date and integrate into existing systems. A dedicated Services CPQ where advanced pricing logic and margin calculations are built into the services configuration experience is by far the best and fastest way to get accurate information for
- Scope Creep
Scope changes and revisions are common culprits behind SOW approval delays. Clients may request modifications or additions, necessitating further negotiations and updates.
The Solution: Time and Materials
Consider time and materials – Instead of offering defined outcomes that risk scope modification pre-sale and scope creep post-sale, consider shifting your PS business model to more time and materials-based offerings. This allows scope and project details to be handled post-sale, reducing the need to make multiple rounds of revisions to the SOW.
In navigating the intricate path of SOW approval, these strategies serve as a GPS, guiding you toward a smoother and quicker journey. If you’re looking for a faster, one-stop-shop to solve these issues, consider a dedicated Services CPQ like WorkRails. Through specific SOW generation and approval workflow tools, WorkRails can create an overall faster services sales cycle.