Nearly all jobs in every industry involve some form of work scope management. Regardless of their role, every employee encounters “scope of work” even if they don’t recognize it as such. From senior leaders to assembly line workers to field operations technicians, the modern workforce has duties, tasks, deliverables, deadlines, and budgets they must perform and adhere to in order to be successful.
Clearly defining project scope for your employees and managing that workflow for your company can be extremely challenging, with many moving parts. Most companies struggle with the effort. In fact, the average project overrun is 27%, according to a study published in the Harvard Business Review. Even more concerning, one in six projects in the study had a cost overrun of 200% on average and a schedule overrun of almost 70%.
Business leaders and managers certainly understand the concept of scope of work management, but many lack the processes and tools to effectively define and document it for employees or to measure it for further optimization. Understanding the value of a clearly defined scope of work (SOW) and using technologies like workflow software can go a long way in helping employees dramatically improve efficiency and companies increase their bottom line.
Why is a clearly defined scope of work imperative?
With a defined project scope, managers and employees at all levels can stay on track and ensure that work is performed on time, on budget, and to specification. Effective scope of work management helps workers avoid common downfalls, such as:
- Missing critical steps, resulting in incomplete or inadequate work performed
- Conversely, doing unnecessary work that is not required within the scope
- Having to change direction in the middle of a project
- “Scope creep” caused by changing customer requirements
- Exceeding the agreed-upon project budget
- Falling behind schedule on the overall project lifecycle
Scope of work management sets clear expectations about each project’s time, labor and cost. It helps distinguish between what is needed and what isn’t needed for accomplishing a task. A well-crafted scope of work also lays out the control factors of a project to address elements that might change during the project lifecycle.
What should be included in a scope of work?
Scope of work, of course, depends on the project, the industry and the organization doing the work. In general, an SOW specifies project goals, process steps, key milestones, reports, budgets, timelines and expected outcomes. Some SOWs address potential obstacles, required resources and stakeholders. To avoid scope creep – the continuous and uncontrollable expansion of a project beyond its original scope – and set clear customer expectations, some SOWs also include project exclusions.
The problem with most SOWs is their lack of specificity. The more detailed an SOW, the less likely the project will get off track. With a clear and detailed project scope defined right from the beginning, it is easier for project teams to manage tasks, make necessary changes and achieve the stated project goals.
How can technology improve scope of work management?
In today’s always-connected but often remote work environment, clearly defining SOW is more critical than ever. Project management software is a huge enabler, allowing managers and workers to communicate and collaborate in unprecedented ways. With a robust workflow management platform, companies can tell their employees where the work needs to be done (location or asset), when it needs to be done (timeline and due date), and how to do it (procedures and checklists). Let’s break down each of these critical elements of scope of work management:
Locations & Assets – Managing campuses, sites, buildings and equipment – and keeping them fully operational – is a huge undertaking for most organizations. Workflow software enables companies to connect their people to these locations and assets, whether the work is being done for their own enterprise or at a customer site. With GPS maps, workers can easily navigate to the correct location, while managers and team members can see where the work is being done.
Timelines – Performing tasks in a timely manner and delivering work on schedule is key to growing your business and ensuring customer satisfaction. Therefore, clearly defining the project timeline is essential to successful scope of work management. Using an operations management platform, companies can assign a project that shows up on a calendar, establish a schedule for tasks to be completed, and specify the final due date. Managers can even see how work is progressing in real-time.
Checklists – One of the most important aspects of work scope is clearly defining the correct procedures and steps to be taken to deliver a project according to specifications and quality requirements. With project management software, organizations can assign tasks and define exactly what needs to be done for a job or project. Custom digital checklists with drag and drop features can provide a great deal of detail – including procedural steps, images, videos, barcode scans, numeric entries, electronic signatures, decision points, and more – to ensure deployments are being completed with accuracy.
Learn more about tools to define your scope of work
Fortunately, today’s technologies can make scope of work management easier than ever before. With a Saas project management platform, you no longer have to create project scopes from scratch. Chekhub software is designed to help you establish a clear work scope for your employees, manage their work via a fully automated platform with dashboards, and measure performance for future process improvements.