Even before COVID-19 and the extension of IR35 into the private sector, procurement professionals were already reassessing how they approach resourcing challenges amid an increasingly complex landscape - and adapting their workforce plans in response.
Today, the need for full visibility and maximum efficiency across contingent workforce management has never been more acute. However, when making rapid adjustments amid the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses realised they had a less than complete picture of their external workforce. One solution that decision makers have found is to centralise their outcome-led statement of work (SOW) engagements to simplify what had become a complex category of spend.
SOW contracts have many major advantages over alternative workforce management methods - not least streamlined project management, consistent quality, and associated cost savings. However, at a time when organisations are open to so much risk when recruiting and managing people, the greatest statement of work benefit of all is arguably increased compliance - both with regulatory requirements and with their own internal procurement processes.
Mitigating against risks
For work packages that lend themselves to SOW contracts, procurement professionals can mitigate risk in several areas - not least worker classification. Dawn Adams, Service Manager for Commercial and Procurement at Dorset Council, has relied on Comensura to source temporary staff for several years. More recently, though, the two organisations have extended this collaborative relationship to include SOW through Comensura’s vendor management system (VMS), c.net.
While Dawn is still relatively early on in her c.net SOW journey, she is already enjoying the benefits of this way of working. “It’s given us much more assurance, particularly around IR35. Having one arrangement for temporary staff and SOW allows us to have that assurance. If somebody tries to misclassify a job role or project, c.net and Comensura will stop them going through that wrong door,” she says.
Aside from help with worker classification, Dawn also notes the other advantages she has seen. She adds, “It also gives us full visibility, so if we pick up somebody else’s project (if somebody leaves or goes off sick, for example), we can go on c.net and see exactly where that project is. It gives us transparency, which is vital for public sector organisations that may be under scrutiny for their use of resources.”
Statement of work benefits for the public sector
Any business that procures services based solely on existing relationships between managers and their favoured suppliers is taking unnecessary risks – and could well be overspending in the process. However, for local authorities and other public sector organisations, choosing and managing suppliers in an objective and transparent way is absolutely vital.
The formal process for evaluating, approving and engaging suppliers under a statement of work through a VMS provides a full audit trail of decision making to demonstrate that public money is being spent ethically. What’s more, projects can be monitored closely and easily throughout their entire lifecycle, from inception to various milestones and deliverables, right through to completion.
Automated audit trail
Outputs, timelines and costs are all clearly defined, approved, updated and tracked within the system, creating a single source of truth that’s available at the touch of a login button. At a glance, users can see exactly where they are with any given project: no more chasing individual project owners or managers. If you need to know how much time or budget is left to run, it’s all right there in the system.
As well as creating an automated audit trail, today’s systems also provide added benefits to boost efficiencies and productivity. Our VMS, for example, becomes more powerful the more it is used. As you populate it with information about your statement of work projects and suppliers, it gives you deeper insight into spending trends, service categories and engagement patterns.
Beginning your SOW journey
Recent global events have brought into sharp focus the need to bring full visibility and control to workforce management. As a result, commercial and public sector organisations are increasingly using statement of work to engage suppliers, while more procurement leaders are looking for ways to improve and manage their SOW processes.
For those who have yet to begin their SOW journey, Dawn Adams at Dorset Council has one piece of advice: “Have a conversation, find out what the solution is and how the provider can tailor it to your needs. If you have these grown-up conversations, you will feel confident they can give you what you are not currently getting. This is how you will match your goals to the solutions, benefits and outputs – which is crucial when you are building a business case.”
Want to learn more? Get the full guide
In our guide, Transforming SOW procurement with a VMS and MSP partner, Comensura’s services procurement specialists dive deeper into the full benefits of centralising your statement of work engagements.
Get the guide to find out how to bring greater visibility, control, and cost savings with SOW - and how to make better purchasing decisions as a result.