time management

Understanding a Statement of Work (SOW)

Man Thinking About How to Write a Statement of Work.

Man Thinking About How to Write a Statement of Work.

A Statement of Work is not something many small businesses provide or ask for when they are selling or receiving a service. It could be because many small businesses are satisfied with just an invoice or a project proposal. It could also be that many small businesses don’t really understand what a Statement of Work is. If you are a free-lancer working by yourself, then it can be daunting to try to write any kind of statement up when you may not have any background in business, but don’t let that be an excuse.

A Statement of Work (SOW) is a document that shows specifically what type of work is going to be completed and how long it is going to take. Yeah…it’s pretty much that simple.

Now the reason this is important for you is because it can help a small business outline with details what they can expect from the company providing the service with costs and time associated with it. If the providing company then doesn’t do what they have stated in the SOW then you have something you can hold them to and if you have to, take them to court with. You could almost look at it as a sort of insurance policy.

SOWs are like project proposals on steroids. After you read through one, you should have no questions about how long the service will take, how much each step will cost, or how the process will roll out. If you do, then it needs to be revised.

Now let’s say you are interested in writing one. I’ll overview the very basic sections you should include to clarify any confusion. 


OBJECTIVE

This is the area where you want a detailed summary of the end product or service that is expected to be delivered. Create definitions of what success looks like and what failure looks like.

APPROACH & METHODOLOGY

There needs to be a section that really lays out what is going to happen and how. There should be a task list of pre-production, production, and post-production that all needs to happen so that neither side of the agreement is surprised by the events that need to take place.

MILESTONES

It is so important to have milestones. Create a time table with milestones along the way so that it is easy to track how far along a project is. Outline any costs that have to happen during these milestones to keep the work moving and avoid delays. It is also highly recommended to schedule formal reviews at key points to double check everything and make sure everything is continuing as planned and expected.

COSTS

This section should outline every cost and where the money goes. If you are trying to figure this out, walk through the process and think about the cost at every step. Then write those down. Think about material costs, time costs, testing costs, and delivery costs. It is even ok to have a miscellaneous or unforeseen costs. The more research you do before hand, the better and more accurate these numbers become. Make sure to include costs for extra work that might need to be done for revisions. The more detailed you outline the costs the less friction there will be when getting paid.

STATEMENT OF UNDERSTANDING & SIGNATURE

After you lay everything out as detailed as you can, have both parties sign that they understand the agreement before you start doing any work.


Now you know the basics of a Statement of Work. They can get much more complicated than this and often do, but now you know a good framework to start from.

SMART-HD Goals

Let me start by explaining that a SMART goal is an acronym that stands for:

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Time sensitive 

If you create goals using this method, it can help you better strategically think through your company goals. But I think that this method can be improved upon even further. Even though attainable and realistic are safe words to use when creating goals, I think that they create a sense of underachievement. Don't get me wrong, we want our goals to be attainable and realistic, but goals should also be motivating and create a desire to want to achieve them. That's why I like what LeadershipIQ has suggested with their HARD goals

Heartfelt - My goals will enrich the lives of somebody besides me
Animated/Affirming - I can picture how great it will feel when I achieve my goals. 
Required - My goals are absolutely necessary to help this company. 
Difficult - I may have to learn new skills and leave my comfort zone. 

I would take out Attainable and Realistic from he SMART goals and replace them with Affirming and Required. I don't like the word Animated so I would use Affirming because when you feel good about completing a goal it affirms you and encourages you in your work by telling you that you are capable. These replaced words would help make the goals matter more to the goal-setter by allowing them to visualize their success and be more relevant to the company.

The Specific, Measureable, and Time sensitive would stay the same, but I would add HD at the end which stands for Heartfelt and Difficult. These two words would enrich the company environment and push employees to grow personally and professionally in their work capabilities. The combined result would be:

Specific
Measurable
Affirming
Required
Time sensitive
Heartfelt
Difficult

By combining these two methods to create SMART-HD goals, you would get superior goal setting that would inspire employees or yourself to push your goals to the edge while being energized with a stronger desire to achieve them.


Leadership IQ Study: Are SMART Goals Dumb?. (n.d.). Leadership IQ. Retrieved April 07, 2015, from http://www.leadershipiq.com/materials/LeadershipIQ-AreSmartGoalsDumb.pdf 

Yes, You Can Use a Mac for Work (and an iPad Too)

photo by ugmonk

photo by ugmonk

 

Many people are haters on anything mac (except they like their iPhone). But to be honest, it usually comes down to the fact that Apple is expensive and most of us are bad at being patient enough with wanting a new laptop that we settle for the best option that we can afford at the time. This article is probably not for you. 

The second reason is not a hatred towards mac as much as a mandatory PC environment at work. The business world uses a lot of PC only software and some of the versions made for the mac are troublesome to open files on Windows and Mac because of formatting issues.

So we relent and give in to buying a PC because it is just familiar and easy to give in.

BUT....have no fear, you can have your cake and eat it too.

The MacBook Pro was judged to be the "best performing" Windows laptop, according to a study by PC services company Soluto. Also ZDNet last year said that running Windows 8 on a Mac is better than running it on a PC. So there are many people out there running tests and concluding similar ideas.

Virtual software has advanced so much in the past few years that running Windows inside your Mac operating system is seamless. Parallels 10 just recently updated and runs windows programs like they are part of your mac OS. However, running Windows natively will still always be the fastest and most reliable way to operate which is why you can still use Boot Camp. Boot Camp comes on every mac for at least the last 5 years.

A lot of small business owners already own iPhones and even an iPad too. They get frustrated because syncing with them over their PC has produced more problems than solutions. Now, you can utilize a mac with anything you need for Windows and have the incredible smooth syncing of iCloud with all your devices.

Macs also tend to have a longer shelf life. My wife is still using my old MacBook Pro from over 5 years ago and it still runs great. Every PC we have ever owned tends to slow down dramatically within the first year and then it becomes a computer with constant maintenance  issues.

Switching to a Mac environment will save you time which is priceless since every business wishes they had more time. There is also more longevity in your computers which means a lower turnover rate of replacing machines.

So the next time you are looking at replacing your work computer, try a Mac. You won't regret it.

Online Time Management for Small Businesses

How can a small business owner think about Social Media and digital marketing when their plate is already full with just keeping their business a float? Not to mention trying to make room for family time and a resemblance to a social life?

Luckily their are tools out there to help streamline your company's digital footprint so that you can make every step count. I will give my 3 recommendations in Social Media, Project, and Email Management, so that you can save time and resources while getting everything done.


SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGMENT

Hootsuite

Hootsuite

Hootsuite allows you to manage all of your social media platforms from one place and schedule future posts so that you can work around the schedule you want. The dashboard also allows you to see the analytics of what posts are getting looked at and shared so that you can know what is working and what isn't. It can also show you what people are saying about your company so that you can be quicker to put out fires if need be.

You can also share your workload amongst teams, departments, or regions. Assign tasks, receive real-time notifications, and have internal conversations right from the dashboard. Hootsuite is an incredible time-saver and a must have for any small business.


PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Basecamp

Basecamp

Basecamp helps you bring people together with different roles, responsibilities, and objectives toward a common goal: Finishing a project together. Basecamp helps small businesses delegate tasks and track progress of goals and deadlines set. There is a calendar integration and a notification system to keep everyone on the same page. Another great thing about Basecamp is it's ability to give clients their own login so that they can make comments and suggestions to the progression of their project. A great tool to centrally focus your team.


EMAIL MANAGEMENT

MailChimp

MailChimp is still my top choice for email management. The ease of use and vast template options for any kind of email need is far better than anything out there. The subscriber profiles for each person on your email list will tell you which emails they opened and what they clicked on. Each campaign you send also gives great detail on where in the world each email was opened and what was clicked on. 

Now, MailChimp has a responsive design so that no matter what device you are on, you can send out email campaigns from any device. This is truly a dream for any small business owner on the go. And MailChimp already integrates with hundreds of apps and services, like Salesforce, Eventbrite, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Shopify, and SurveyMonkey. Sync your data, import content from other sources, and see how your newsletters affect your business.


With the addition of these tools, you can worry less about how you are going to keep up with Social Media and Digital Marketing and focus more on your customers and their needs.

If you need any advice or help getting your small business jump-started on some of these or other online tools, please contact me and I would love to help.

 

David Doughty
Multi-Media Storyteller
@daviddoughty83
www.daviddoughty.com

Reminder to Eat Your Frog

Many already know what it means to eat your frog, but I was just told about this a few days ago and it has stuck with me and I can't stop thinking about it.

Basically, it comes from a Mark Twain saying that, "if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worse things that is going to happen to you all day long." I feel like that is an extreme example, but he was definitely on to something. 

Brian Tracy, took this quote and made a time management book out of it. But let me save you some time and money and give you the cliff notes.

Everyday when you wake up and look at your list of things you have to do, pick the one you are least excited about doing and do it first (that's your frog). Not only will it energize you for the rest of the day, you'll be in a better mood. If you wait till the end of the day to do that task, then it will hang over your head all day and drain your energy and generally create a bad day. When you finally finish the task at the end of the day, you'll be just thankful the day is over.

So give it a try tomorrow morning. I promise it will change the way you look at your to do list from this day forward.

There is a short video that also does a great job of summing up what was just talked about on YouTube, but it won't let me embed it here.