Without a plan, managing major projects can be challenging. What is the best approach to take? Are you being too broad or getting into too much detail? Unless everything is written down and clearly defined, it's hard to tell.
This is where scoping documents come into play. You may not be familiar with scoping documents, but they are excellent tools for getting all parties to agree before starting a large project. In this article, we introduce scoping documents and describe how they affect client communication and internal processes.
As you begin adding bookkeeping services to your firm, managing the scope of work is one of the seven steps you need to take to make bookkeeping a profit-driving service vehicle.
- Get buy-in from your team
- Define your services
- Manage the scope of work
- Systemize processes to drive efficiencies
- Standardize technology to promote productivity
- Review pricing and update to match value
- Identify opportunities for growth
What Is a Scoping Document?
A scoping document or scope of work (SOW) defines who, what and when your project will take place. It explains the project, who is responsible for what parts and when the client can expect it to be completed. By doing so, stakeholders, clients and team members will be aligned on project boundaries before actual work begins. Furthermore, it provides clients with an understanding of what to expect. Effective scoping documents outline goals, deliverables, requirements, milestones, assumptions, exclusions and constraints.
A scoping document defines the primary goals of a project. The section also explains why the project was initiated, providing the rationale behind its creation.
The project and its deliverables are described in this section of an SOW. During the project, it outlines the deliverables presented as well as the final results. There should be a concise explanation that details the length, quantity, amount, and everything else that makes up the service.
Here, there is an illustration of what the finished product will look like with agreed-upon, measurable criteria. You can use this description to prove you have finished the project.
In larger projects, you will define milestones used to monitor progress.
List all assumptions you can think of related to the project to avoid miscommunication, confusion and unclear expectations.
In order for a project to be successful, you need to evaluate the limits of what you can accomplish within the time frame and budget available. If you are using a particular type of technology, for example, make sure you list that technology so you don’t spend excess time or money researching different programs.
Provide a list of services you won't provide along with those you will. It's helpful to have clear exclusions so there's no confusion about what's included and what's not included.
Scoping Document Agreement
The agreement is what a scope doc is all about, so being sure everyone is on board is important. Include a section for signatures to ensure this is the case. Having a lawyer look over a SOW before you have anyone sign it may be necessary for high-value projects.
Tracking expenses is essential for managing proper expectations internally and externally. Although including costs in an SOW is optional, it can be helpful to be as specific as possible about what items and services will cost in managing your expenses and determining if more funds are needed.
Be sure the scoping document is accessible to everyone involved in the project. As the project progresses, you should be in constant communication with your client. It is essential that your client understands all the parts of the scope document. In addition to providing potential clients with answerable questions, scope documents offer the client context about the project. As a result, it helps clarify expectations and coordinate teamwork.
By creating a SOW, internal processes can run smoothly. Every team member will have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities in relation to the project. It will be easy for them to execute the project because they will already know the procedures involved. We will examine in greater detail in the next segment of this series how to simplify such a process by systematically organizing processes.
Failure to plan is planning to fail. Nowhere is this more true than in business. With a scoping document, your clients, team and stakeholders will share a common goal and virtually guarantee that no one will be in the dark once a project has begun. It's a handy way to share expectations with all parties and promote cohesion.
Looking for a template to get started with? Check out Dext’s ‘Scope of Bookkeeping Work Agreement Template’ by clicking here!