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Sales Effectiveness

How to Optimize Your Statements of Work: Automate SOW Process

May 19, 2021

Just like RFPs, Statements of Work (SOWs) can be like snowflakes — each one completely unique. Depending on your offering, these documents can range from a couple of pages to lengthy, in-depth deliverables with hundreds of line items. 

To demystify this process, we sat down with SOW expert Loraine Laguerta, the Lead Technical Content Project Manager at Rapid7, to discuss how they use Ombud to automate their Statements of Work and the best practices they’ve developed in their seamless SOW process.

Because of the nature of their business, almost all buying cycles will require a Statement of Work. For a company in a hypergrowth stage with over 8,000 customers, that makes for a lot of SOWs for this small, 6-person team to manage. 

Needless to say, Loraine and her team run a tight ship and have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to SOWs. 

When looking to automate your SOWs, what's the first step you should take?

Ensure you have one or multiple reference documents dedicated to storing content on any service that requires a Statement of Work. Invite the respective services teams to this Reference, and encourage them to treat it as their own. 

Ombud specifics: In Ombud, these reference documents are called “Reference Workspaces.”

Having people that actually deliver the services involved in updating the content helps bridge the lag time between your content team learning of a services change while the services team is already performing it. In many ways, you could consider this step an “automation” of SOW content.

In terms of automating the SOW creation process, a recommended first step would be setting up a different workflow for the different teams you want creating their own SOWs. This allows them only to see the content relevant to them and create their own, ready-to-go SOW in a matter of minutes--giving us on the content team more time to focus on less transactional tasks!

Ombud specifics: Using Ombud’s Workspace Experience feature, different sales teams and service groups now have customized views in Ombud that allow them only to see the templates relevant to them. 

What have you found is the best way to segment different types of SOWs?

One approach that has worked well for us is utilizing a base SOW template that is universal for all SOWs. This template would include general sections such as Terms and Conditions, Schedule, Requirements/Responsibilities, Pricing & Payment terms, and most importantly, a placeholder “Services” or “Tasks” section with no content in it. 

Ombud specifics: The user would go through the steps to create a workspace using this general template, then customize it by adding the specific services in scope as “entries” under the placeholder “Services” section. With your Reference workspace of services content already built out, Ombud makes it very simple to pull this in using the “Show Suggestions” feature – just make sure your service names are consistent! 

When collaborating with your sales team on SOWs, what have you found is the best approach?

We have a Slack channel that our sales teams frequently use to ask questions related to creating SOWs. We were surprised to find that our sales teams were enthusiastic about getting involved and learning how the process works, and we’ve found that it’s always better to overshare rather than under-share.

Ombud specifics: We also use the Slack channel (named #ask-ombud) to garner any questions and feedback. Working in Ombud day in and day out causes blind spots to arise in training, and often, what seems intuitive to you is not always intuitive to them! 

Are there common mistakes you see people run into when it comes to SOW creation and automation?

We sometimes have issues with new users leaving out sections that should have been included or adding sections that should not have been included.

When first launching your SOW process, keep a close eye on the final deliverable before sending it out, and ensure everyone is on the same page about what sections to include for which services (we created a reference table that’s been helpful!), as well as which notes are internal to the company (this text can be distinguished with a yellow highlight + bold). 

Anything else you'd like to add about the process around SOWs.

A SOW template and automated process is an unconventional but awesome way to take advantage of the section modularity, reference content, and collaboration capabilities Ombud provides. Make sure your process is clearly communicated, and you’re ready to roll!  

...we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. 

If you’re curious about the incredible efficiencies, Rapid7 has achieved with this process — such as 6 teammates created more than 2,000 SOWs in one year — check out our case study with them!

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