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What a Comprehensive Scope of Work Looks Like

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Type: Article, Report or Whitepaper

Topics: Project Management

Date: March 2012

By Bradley A. Malone, PMP

This is the fifth in an ongoing series of organizational project management articles by InfoComm University™ instructor Brad Malone. Read the fourth installment, about the characteristics of great salespeople.

I've heard many terms used to describe the contractual aspects of an audiovisual integration project: bill of materials (BOM), scope of work or statement of work (SOW), work order and contract, to name a few. But often, when I ask key project stakeholders (sales, clients, project managers, technicians, procurement, warehousing, service, etc.) where these documents are and whether I can look at them, I often get blank stares or embarrassed smiles. "Oh, you want to read the SOW? I don't know where it is," one person might say. Or they'll say, "I didn't get a copy," or "We don't have time to read them," or (worse yet), "Management doesn't let me read them."

When I can get my hands on a statement of work, I find that the document being circulated is usually one or two pages long, with a list of equipment and pricing — no assumptions, no change-order procedures and often no sign-off or escalation procedures. It's as if the AV integration company didn't want to hold the client responsible for anything, including payment for the completed work.

If AV integration companies want to be more respected by clients in the marketplace, their contracts should be the starting point for creating credibility and professionalism.

The salespeople must create an expectation that a comprehensive scope of work will be adhered to. They should spend time with the client, covering change-control procedures, escalation processes and sign-off and payment procedures.

The project manager should further ensure their counterpart has read and understands the pertinent parts of the contract. Personally, I always keep a copy of the contract or statement of work in my project notebook so I can refer to it, if necessary, during discussions with the client, general contractor or other interested party.

Some of the best AV integration companies I've worked with train everyone in their organization on the purpose and details of each section of the contract. This kind of education provides a holistic knowledge of how the company sustains itself and generates its revenues and profits. It also gives individuals a context for supporting one another during the project, from design to purchasing, shipment to staging, and change orders to commissioning.

Here is an outline of the major components of a typical scope of work. (You can download a handy PDF here.) All the sections below should used for the three major types of AV jobs (hang and bang, design/build, and bid), employing varying degrees of complexity. At the end of the day, it is better to have documentation and not use it than not have it and need it.

Typical Scope of Work

  1. Executive Summary (one page that includes high-level functionality and deliverables)
  2. General Information
    1. AV integration company background
    2. References
    3. Company biography (vision, mission, values and ethics)
      1. Company history
      2. Key personnel
      3. Key subcontractors (if applicable)
  3. Proposed Solution
    1. Description of functionality
    2. Product listing
    3. Drawings (if applicable)
  4. Assumptions
    1. State any conditions that are being relied on (owner-furnished equipment, facility readiness, electrical, etc.)
    2. State the assumptions that pricing is based on
    3. Field verification audit and disclaimer (see "Terms and Conditions")
  5. Pricing Information (either fixed price or time and materials)
    1. Product listing (bill of materials, etc.)
    2. Labor (proposed hours, if required)
    3. Service and warranty (if applicable)
  6. Milestones (with an attached schedule, if applicable)
    1. Purchase order receipt
    2. Material shipment
      1. Logistics
        1. Drop Ship
    3. Implementation activities (summary, by type and complexity of project)
      1. Rough-in
      2. Programming
      3. Acceptance test
      4. Client training
    4. Client final acceptance
    5. Payment structure (initial, progress, and final)
  7. Responsibilities (client, AV integrator, GC, etc.)
    1. Client
      1. Facilities
      2. Digital signage (content)
      3. Teleconference
      4. Owner-furnished equipment
      5. Security, storage and site access
      6. Training and testing
    2. AV Integration Company
      1. Progress meetings (attendance based upon integration schedule)
    3. Subcontractors (not affiliated with the AV company)
    4. Escalation and governance structure (i.e. who decides what)
      1. Structure for client (by role or name)
      2. Structure for AV integration company (by role or name)
      3. Structure for key subcontractors, if applicable (by role or name)
  8. Project Management Procedures
    1. Kick-off meeting and field verification audit
    2. Status reviews (progress tracking), if applicable
    3. Change orders
    4. Interim approvals
  9. Warranty Agreement, Service Levels
  10. Maintenance Agreement (could be a separate document)
  11. Terms and Conditions
    1. Standard hours/travel
    2. Performance bonds/payment Bonds
    3. Field verification disclaimer: In developing a comprehensive proposal for equipment and installation services _________ AV and engineering teams must make some assumptions regarding the physical construction of your facility, the availability of technical infrastructure and site conditions for installation. If any of the assumptions we have indicated in the site survey form are incorrect for your particular project or project site, please let your sales representative know as soon as possible. Changes to the proposal may have an effect on the price of equipment or services. To ensure that you have an accurate proposal based on your facility and specific to the conditions of your project, please review these assumptions carefully.
    4. Insurance
    5. Taxes
    6. Permits, fees and licenses
    7. Security clearances (if required)
    8. Safety or OSHA equirements
    9. Payment structure (this could be moved to section 6)
      1. Rules and timeframe for payments
      2. Financing options
    10. Arbitration
    11. Confidentiality agreement
    12. Warranty statement
  12. Definitions of Terms

Each of these sections serves a purpose and reflects on the AV integration company's professionalism in fulfilling its obligations. Taken as a whole, the SOW will hold other parties (client, GC, other subcontractors) responsible for their actions in complying with the contract. The statement of work does not have to be filled with onerous legal-sounding jargon; in fact straight-forward language is better.

For more information or examples of specific terms and conditions, please drop me a line.

Bradley A. Malone, PMP, is an InfoComm University instructor and president of Twin Star Consulting, an organizational excellence and program management consulting company serving multiple industries worldwide. He holds the Project Management Professional (PMP®) designation from the Project Management Institute (PMI) and is one of PMI's highest-rated instructors. Please share your thoughts with him at brad@twinstarconsulting.com.