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The challenges of delivering value under SoW engagements

When it comes to SoW, who should be involved and how does procurement ensure everyone is adding value?

Episode highlights


Who is involved in the initiation of an SOW?
Play
The importance of good supplier relationships
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How to manage accountability for scoping and change requests
Play
Ensuring delivery matches the requirement
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Should legal terms sit in the MSA or the SOW?
Play

Posted by: ZivioReading time: 112 minutes

With Christine Stolz

00;18;05;20 - Who is involved in the initiation of an SOW
00;27;22;24 - The importance of good supplier relationships
00;39;17;07 - How to manage accountability for scoping and change requests
00;48;38;14 - Ensuring delivery matches the requirement
00;56;36;04 - Should legal terms sit in the MSA or the SOW?

Transcript - Auto-generated. Please excuse any minor errors.

00;00;00;00 - 00;00;13;22
Jonny Dunning
Let's get started. So I'm delighted to welcome Christine Stoltz to the podcast today. I appreciate it's fairly early where you are in the USA today, but I'm very grateful to you for joining me. Christine, how are you?

00;00;13;24 - 00;00;29;25
Christine Stolz
I'm great. It's a wonderful Friday morning and the sun is shining. So I'm good. I'm in the suburbs of Chicago. So this is my honor of my background. The cloud gate or the bean as they would say. Very nice. So, yeah. Great to see you.

00;00;29;28 - 00;01;01;26
Jonny Dunning
Excellent. Well, listen, we're going to be diving into a topic area that both you and I have a passionate interest in, which is looking at the challenges of delivering value on the statement of work engagements. Now, for some people, they might think, why is that? Why are you passionate about that? Why is it particularly interesting? Right. But we're going to really dig into that, particularly looking at it from your point of view, your your journey and your experience in the industry and why this is something that that's come up as and and sparked the previous conversations that we've had.

00;01;01;28 - 00;01;10;05
Jonny Dunning
So before we get into it, would you just be able to give it a little bit of background on how you got into procurement and just kind of your journey through the industry?

00;01;10;07 - 00;01;35;05
Christine Stolz
Sure thing. So where I started almost 20 years ago, I'll have to actually do the calculation. But I was 20 years ago, I got involved in I.T. project management. It was something that I've I'd always wanted to do and had had an opportunity through my job to to learn more about project management. And I was like, This is absolutely what I want to do.

00;01;35;07 - 00;02;27;05
Christine Stolz
It's my vocation. So through the years, I've done every project imaginable, from infrastructure to software development, greenfield software development to package software implementation. So I've just about done it all. And over those years I've it was for a number of retailers, I've worked for a number of retailers. So and mostly all United States based. But Cabello's, Claire's, Kohl's, also Walgreens and currently I'm with ABC Supply and what ended up happening is that over the years I've worked on probably thousands of SOW's either having written them or received them from a vendor and had to rewrite them.

00;02;27;07 - 00;02;52;06
Christine Stolz
So I've had so much experience with that. And then over the time period as I I've just gotten to the point where I feel like, you know what, maybe I still don't know everything, but I've gotten so much insight into what needs to happen in an SRO W to set it up correctly. And then my journey into procurement was rather interesting.

00;02;52;06 - 00;03;24;11
Christine Stolz
Is that several years ago I was involved with a company. We were bringing in a package software, and they asked me as a project manager to sit in on some of the of the negotiation for the master agreement as well as the, the SOW the statement of work, and I did and it was great and I got involved and I I'm, I'm not shy about giving my opinion on different different things.

00;03;24;11 - 00;03;50;29
Christine Stolz
So I just jumped in and my director at that time said, you know what, you're really good at negotiation and you seem to really enjoy it. And I was like, Well, yeah, I do. I love negotiation. I think there's always and there's a sign on my desk that says everything is figure out -able Okay, maybe it's not proper English, but everything is figure-out-able

00;03;51;00 - 00;04;15;18
Christine Stolz
So and in a negotiation, you know, you get to a point where you feel like there's no way forward and you've gotten to the end. The final corner. And I always feel like there's a way, there is a way. We just have to we have to find the way. So anyways, that that ended up being my transition into procurement.

00;04;15;21 - 00;04;40;09
Christine Stolz
So now I'm essentially the procurement person for a rather large company and I, I really enjoy it. It's something I get to handle SOW I get to use some of that knowledge from all the 20 years of being a project manager to ensure that we are protecting our business and getting some value.

00;04;40;11 - 00;04;47;15
Jonny Dunning
It's, it's so interesting the fact that you're coming to this point from the experience on the delivery side.

00;04;47;17 - 00;04;48;06
Christine Stolz
Correct.

00;04;48;09 - 00;05;07;12
Jonny Dunning
And it's just, just in terms of the context of what you see, because for most people who maybe went straight into procurement or transitioned to procurement from, I don't know, maybe a sales background or some sort of, but there are a lot of people traditionally acquisition, so they kind of fell into procurement or what they were into came from a different angle.

00;05;07;14 - 00;05;28;04
Jonny Dunning
But now I'm seeing a lot more people going through procurement, specific qualifications and actually going straight into procurement. But regardless of where most people come from, most people in procurement, I would say I hope I’m not speaking out of turn here. I don't really have that much experience on the actual specific delivery side in terms of that pure project delivery.

00;05;28;06 - 00;05;49;27
Jonny Dunning
And the other thing that stands out to me about this is a lot of the world happens the a statement of work in this in the sense that when we break it down you could say the statements of work that just a boring document that outlines what a you've outsourced a requirement for a supplier to deliver a service.

00;05;49;29 - 00;06;10;28
Jonny Dunning
They're telling you what they're going to deliver and when, and you're telling them how much you're going to pay them and what's satisfactory and that's it, you're basically paying them X for them to deliver Y that in itself could be seen as fairly dry and fairly boring. But when you break it down into the type of stuff that can be delivered under a statement of work, it could be an incredibly exciting aerospace project.

00;06;10;28 - 00;06;36;00
Jonny Dunning
For example, it could be an amazing piece of consultancy research. It could be a massive strategy work, it could be a really cool marketing campaign, for example. So that comes back to kind of looking at it from both our point of views as to why it's an interesting topic, because it's a mechanism to deliver an outcome on a huge variety of potential services that the organizations buy.

00;06;36;02 - 00;07;02;07
Jonny Dunning
And yet for some reason it's something that's not really been very effectively managed within the broader procurement context with it. From a technology point of view, from an organizational point of view. And I'm constantly trying to kind of poke and prod the industry as to why that is. And and obviously there are going to be reasons around how the industry's evolved, how services become more important and all that sort of thing.

00;07;02;07 - 00;07;07;21
Jonny Dunning
But it certainly feels like an area where there's lots of ground to be gained.

00;07;07;23 - 00;07;31;12
Christine Stolz
You know, and it's very true. And I think about it this way, it's a continuum. Yeah. And unfortunately, what ends up happening and I mean, even in my position where I've got the experience and the delivery side is that a lot of folks there, they'll go throw it over the wall and say, Hey, procurement review this for me, make sure the I's are dotted and the Ts are cross.

00;07;31;12 - 00;07;57;23
Christine Stolz
And I'm like, Well, I am going to do more for you than that. I am going to look at, you know, what? What is the mechanisms that you have? Well, number one is procurement. I want to make sure there are mechanisms in there for perform since are in the statement of work. Great. But I also want to look at it from a broader view as like, okay, are you really clear on what you're trying to deliver here?

00;07;57;29 - 00;08;35;27
Christine Stolz
Are you really clear on who is doing what? And so I'm always really does help to be a partner with your I'm going to call it the business. You know, we always like to call it the business, the business partner with the business. And it's not only from inception, but through delivery. And I want it in me as a project manager that my, my role was to ensure that we delivered upon what as the statement of work is, is, you know, really getting towards.

00;08;35;27 - 00;09;23;06
Christine Stolz
I'm trying to have a successful project and deliver what we're intending to deliver. So that's great. And I'd always be all over, all over those mechanisms. But I find that a lot of project managers are just so bogged down in the details that they're not seeing the big picture, they're not seeing that that continuum and I like to be the person who's got the 30,000 foot view of, hey, when you start seeing some, you know, things going off the rails, you need to start documenting things because you want to be able to reference back and say, okay, where did this go off the rails and how and why are not always to be?

00;09;23;08 - 00;09;39;20
Christine Stolz
I'm going to say so you can lay a hammer down on on your vendor. That's not necessarily what it is is is to create those those bumper here in bowling I don't know in the UK if they have this big.

00;09;39;23 - 00;09;40;14
Jonny Dunning
Off the rails.

00;09;40;18 - 00;10;00;16
Christine Stolz
Bumper rails for the little kids. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Right. So you want the ball to go down the middle. Okay. It doesn't always go down the middle. And one side is the vendor, one side's the customer. So you kind of go off, kind of go off the go off course, you're going to hit the bumper, the customer bumps it back and then it might hit the vendor.

00;10;00;16 - 00;10;18;05
Christine Stolz
But. But you're still going down the middle and that's where you want to be. You want to define what your middle is and and put those bumpers and that you can control the ball and get it to that ultimate goal, which is the pins and knock them down. That's what you want to do. So that's that's how I look at the statement of work.

00;10;18;07 - 00;10;39;21
Jonny Dunning
Yeah, it's a great analogy, actually. Really good one. And I like the fact when you were talking about it's not about just, you know, putting pressure on the supplier or, you know, hold its feet to the fire. Sometimes it might be protecting the supplier because it might be that there's a change going on and the project has gone off the rails and it's because of an internal problem, you know, something so hasn't delivered X and Y.

00;10;39;21 - 00;11;02;25
Jonny Dunning
They didn't come to the meeting with people off sick, whatever it is, but if that's not captured at the time and actually you don't have some sort of audit trail, what you can end up with and what we see all the time is months, even years after the project is finished, people trying to dig into, you know, a scan signed PDF document that's got very little information and trying to work back from it, say what actually happened.

00;11;02;27 - 00;11;08;04
Jonny Dunning
Management often takes place on email, things like that, some culture.

00;11;08;06 - 00;11;36;06
Christine Stolz
And this is where I went and when I'm reviewing or writing, an SOW you know, a lot of SOWs I get these from the vendors all the time is that they, they have a list of things. This is what our people are going to do and it's usually pretty general, whatever. And I go, Well, I want to know what you're expecting from our team as well so that we can validate against our expectations.

00;11;36;09 - 00;12;07;21
Christine Stolz
And then also we want to close out any assumptions that we might have between the two of us. And I and I always say that the statement of work is a mutual understanding. It should be, What am I doing as a customer? What are you doing as a as a supplier? And get to a little bit of you want enough detail and this goes into scoping is you want enough detail that you can say this is what we're trying to deliver.

00;12;07;24 - 00;12;26;11
Christine Stolz
Here are some high level steps maybe, but not exactly what we're going to do. I don't want to be painted into a corner where we find out that a, what we thought was tactically viable is not you don't you don't want to like, okay, I want to build this API and it needs to be in JavaScript and whatever.

00;12;26;11 - 00;12;44;05
Christine Stolz
And then you find out, well, Java, you know, Java is going away and it's no longer viable and our system doesn't work with it anymore. I don't want to do that, but I want to know. So I want I'm building an API. We're going to connect these two systems and this is the information that's going to go back and forth.

00;12;44;07 - 00;13;22;00
Christine Stolz
Okay, You're you as the supplier are going to be building the API, you're going to be doing unit testing. And me as a customer, we're going to write the requirements, we're going to validate the requirements. We're going to test, we're going to sign off. Even even getting that specific is is not a bad thing, but it's also good in the end when you're honestly when you're in the heat of the project and you get to a point where you're like, well, wait a second, we didn't say who was going to do this.

00;13;22;03 - 00;13;44;11
Christine Stolz
And then you end up and I and I don't know about you, Jonny, but in my experience it's always been if it's not explicitly in the SOW the supplier doesn't want to do it. Yeah. Even though it makes sense that they would do it, they're not going to want to do it. So I like to get as as details as I can about, you know, those, those things.

00;13;44;14 - 00;14;11;02
Christine Stolz
But without painting myself into a corner. And that is not technically viable or, or let's say also I also want to know what the level of involvement is from like my business users. Are they going to be doing? Are they going to be doing user acceptance testing? Sometimes they're like, well, we don't know enough about the system to do user Well, okay, that's not good.

00;14;11;05 - 00;14;31;13
Christine Stolz
Yeah, you need to know what you're trying to do here. You need to have your hands in here because it's not going to be you're not going to hand off a finished product and they're going to be like, wow, look at this. This magically works. It doesn't magically work. Nothing magically works. So you want to close out those assumptions that everybody's made about who's doing what.

00;14;31;15 - 00;15;01;02
Christine Stolz
And and I always say, if you ever if you're ever in a conversation with the vendor and this is why I feel like we should take extra time on the SOW to review it and have conversations and talk through what the project's going to look like and who's doing what. And then you can, as you're going through on your version, on a call on your way, like somebody will pop up and say, I assume this is nice and this is going to happen, and I want them to tell me what their assumptions are.

00;15;01;02 - 00;15;29;12
Christine Stolz
I don't want them to keep them from themselves. I try to ferret out what are those assumptions. And as soon as they say that that's change request, if we don't get it in the SOW, let's not do that. Let's get it in the SOW at least document the assumption and already discuss, you know. Okay, so if this assumption is valid, then what happens?

00;15;29;14 - 00;15;32;24
Jonny Dunning
But it's it's really it's accountability, isn't it?

00;15;32;26 - 00;15;33;27
Christine Stolz
Yeah, it is.

00;15;34;00 - 00;16;02;20
Jonny Dunning
It's you because you don't want to get. I agree with you I don't generally in a statement of work, people don't want to get into project management delivery details because that's the part that's the project management stuff. What we're talking about is milestones, deliverables. Yeah, whatever they may be could be KPIs in an ongoing service delivery. It could be sprints in an agile process, it could be pure project deliverables, it could be blocks of consulting or other right home based kind of effort.

00;16;02;23 - 00;16;34;19
Jonny Dunning
But ultimately, I thought it was interesting what you were saying earlier about, like you mentioned Java and people going into super detail and then going, well, no, now Java update to this version of that doesn't work anymore is kind of the supplier's problem to deliver an outcome. So don't say so again, accountability, detailing responsibilities as to who's going to do what, who's promising what here and what stage and then it's very easy if you do capture that and you can monitor that to be able to say if it's gone wrong, who's let the process down?

00;16;34;21 - 00;16;37;04
Jonny Dunning
How can we improve that?

00;16;37;07 - 00;16;51;27
Christine Stolz
And also having escalations in there too, I'm going to throw that in there. You need to have your escalation points as well defined because a lot of times what ends up happening is then you have a problem and you don't know who to go to.

00;16;51;29 - 00;16;53;11
Jonny Dunning
Yeah.

00;16;53;14 - 00;17;24;21
Christine Stolz
And then it becomes a he said she said type of thing. I hate that. I if, if you've got the opportunity to do it, find out who your escalation points are. If you have delivery problem. And you know, typically I like to put the escalations in the change request process in that if, if there's going to be any kind of change control in the project, I go, okay, who gets to approve or change request?

00;17;24;24 - 00;17;42;14
Christine Stolz
Who who needs to be involved in that? And usually that ferrets out who the escalation points are because they're the ones who can actually approve a change request on either side. And a change request needs to be approved by both sides. So and again, mutual understanding, it continues to be a mutual understanding.

00;17;42;16 - 00;18;05;18
Jonny Dunning
Yeah. I think one one of the things that really stands out to me about what you're discussing here and the points that you're making is that the value that you can add to your organization and to your stakeholders in the business is is extremely valuable. It is extremely relevant and useful. But it can it can work throughout the process.

00;18;05;20 - 00;18;30;10
Jonny Dunning
So you're talking about from the very initiation of actually creating the requirements specification in the first place, right through all the negotiation stuff, but also then in the delivery phase, but preempting all the problems that could come up in the delivery phase. And one of the things I find well, there's two things I find interesting about that. One is when you get the resistance, which is that whole thing of like, people see procurement as the police and that stopping them for doing this and that.

00;18;30;10 - 00;18;54;13
Jonny Dunning
And that's a that's the thing that I think is changing massively and is kind of a little bit of an old, old viewpoint. But the second thing is the fact that procurement typically aren't targeted on anything that involves post contract. And I find that really interesting because that is probably the biggest gap. I mean, there are gaps all over the place in services, procurement and statement of work.

00;18;54;16 - 00;19;18;00
Jonny Dunning
And when I talk about the value that people like yourself can provide, it's valuable because we're talking about a lot of money and really important work. There's growing importance and importance. So I mentioned to you, I saw a sourcing industry group and Spend Matters survey on the kind of gaps around technology when it comes to services. Procurement statement work is traditionally not really being looked after.

00;19;18;00 - 00;19;50;00
Jonny Dunning
It's not it's not like buying goods materials. It's very, very underserved, but it's an area that's massively growing in spend. The whole world is trending toward services. So so that value, the business should be welcoming it. And so. So is it you just mentioned in your views on those two areas really, i.e. one where the business has resistance to procurement getting involved, like you say, the kind of throwing over the wool concept And secondly, around where procurement aren't really worried about anything other than initial savings or sticking to budget and just getting it to the point of contract.

00;19;50;03 - 00;20;19;20
Christine Stolz
Right. Well, you know, I have to play that balancing game quite, quite a bit, only because being a currently because I'm there very small group that's that's doing it. So I work with people across the organization and on their SOWs and I do get a lot of resistance on. So what you have you have views on, on the scope or whatever, and I'm like, Well, no, no, no, no.

00;20;19;20 - 00;20;47;01
Christine Stolz
I'm not concerned about the scope as much as you are. My idea is, do you have it well defined enough that you're not going to run into into issues if you're not being able to break it down into I usually say, you know, you've probably broken it down to the finest level. If you can say yes or no, is is it did you deliver it or did you not deliver it?

00;20;47;03 - 00;21;08;24
Christine Stolz
And you want to get to the point where you can have those? And I'm like, okay, we're getting into binary code. Yes. Is it a one or a zero? You know, you want to break it down. However, it doesn't all 100% have to be in the SOW , but you want to get to the point where you've got it defined well enough that you can easily go in and go, okay, here, here's what we're doing.

00;21;08;28 - 00;21;29;08
Christine Stolz
Yes or no, Yes or no, yes or no, yes or no. And especially on the milestones. But I try to what when I try to underwrite, I get my point across to the chair. Our business folks is that I'm not talking from because I'm the place that's that's not exactly as you said. I'm not talking from that perspective.

00;21;29;10 - 00;21;56;28
Christine Stolz
So I've seen a lot of really great projects that have gotten really well and I've seen a lot of great project or great projects that went off the rails and died. And I've seen really bad projects from the beginning and that have never gotten off off the ground at all. So with that, having seen that, some of the things that I've seen are hopefully they they take that seriously and haven't been in the industry for so long.

00;21;57;01 - 00;22;07;07
Christine Stolz
I feel like I'm I've aged my hair used to be used to be brown right. Well, yes, Yes.

00;22;07;09 - 00;22;08;04
Jonny Dunning
I think it was brown.

00;22;08;04 - 00;22;31;16
Christine Stolz
Gone through the same you know, the same the same of evolution. But mine is entirely gray now. You can't tell, but it's entirely gray. And having that experience is that a lot of lessons learned and there's experience behind that. But I also want to say, hey, if my we're on the same side, number one, we're on the same team.

00;22;31;19 - 00;22;57;08
Christine Stolz
We're our goals are the same. We want a successful project. But I also say statements of work are really they're my bread and butter. They're what make me well, I try to express my passion for it too. But it's I've seen them and I, I and I'll, I'll toot my own horn. I felt like I was a really good project manager.

00;22;57;11 - 00;23;27;21
Christine Stolz
I built teams and it would be teams across vendors and business folks and IT folks, we would all be a team. We built teams that worked really well together. And part of that is you're setting the stage with the SOW to the SOW kind of like it is the it is. Having a good SOW sets you up a great kickoff and I'll tell you a great kickoff leads to a great project.

00;23;27;24 - 00;23;57;20
Christine Stolz
And then and it just continues down the road and there's this old commercial here, TV commercial, and it was for some cooking device and it was basically, you put your food in there, you set it and you're forget it. And a lot of people feel like, okay, the the the statement of work, once you've gotten it written, got it signed yet, file it in the file and you never look at it again.

00;23;57;20 - 00;24;19;29
Christine Stolz
And I tell them, no, this is going to be what you look at at least weekly. The project manager needs to look at it. I also say, Hey, share it with your team. Okay? Maybe not the commercials that I know that's real sensitive for a lot of a lot of companies don't share the commercials, but everybody should know what was agreed to in the SOW

00;24;20;01 - 00;24;22;13
Jonny Dunning
Is like a strategy document for the project, isn't it?

00;24;22;13 - 00;25;05;20
Christine Stolz
It is. It is. And not only should like and this is where and I think we've talked about this before is who needs to be involved in reviewing the SOW W Well, honestly, anybody you feel like is going to be involved in the project should be taking a look at that SOW because or like I always tell my internal folks I want, if you've got a technical, you know, some technical bit that needs to be built, whatever it is, it could be network, it could be servers, whatever it is, you know, integrations, somebody they need to say, okay, high level, this is what we're doing.

00;25;05;22 - 00;25;38;03
Christine Stolz
I need your, your feedback on this because they can point out where you've like you've completely missed the mark in the technical bit. I like to have architects because they are also they're going to tell us, you know, you know, if we've completely missed the mark, I like to have ops involved because observe the ones who are going to or operations, whoever that's going to be, that's going to be maintaining this, whatever it is you're building, the operational people that are going to be maintaining it once it goes live.

00;25;38;10 - 00;26;02;23
Christine Stolz
Need to understand how you built it as well so that they can truly understand how to support it. So those are some of the people that I like to involve in there. And then I think that's the main group. and it's security only because they'll tell you, hey, they can't build it that way because that's going to open their system to a bunch of breaches and stuff like that.

00;26;02;23 - 00;26;30;04
Christine Stolz
So I do like to say, hey, especially when we're talking about it, a lot of times that'll talk about access that consultants need to build whatever it is. And I've had it were written and where they, they, they need admin access to production environments and I believe like typically we don't give admin access to outside folks. I mean action.

00;26;30;06 - 00;26;46;03
Jonny Dunning
On I guess you know with, with i.t project specifically those type of things are always going to come up and they're always going to be relevant if it, if it's a finance organization doing a strategy review again, there'll be there'll be a key list of people who need to be involved in it.

00;26;46;05 - 00;27;17;27
Christine Stolz
That's right. That's right. And it's really important to include the folks in it regardless of it. If it's i.t or if it's finance or marketing or whatever type of project it is, the people that are going to have their hands on it and running it need to be involved in that. It's a statement of work. At least if you're not going to give them a seat at the table, they need to read it and understand it well before the project starts, before you've signed it even.

00;27;18;00 - 00;27;20;19
Christine Stolz
It's probably better to do it before they IT.

00;27;20;21 - 00;27;21;18
Jonny Dunning
Yeah, because of the work that.

00;27;21;18 - 00;27;22;22
Christine Stolz
Was their feedback in.

00;27;22;24 - 00;27;37;06
Jonny Dunning
Or to a certain extent it's too late at that point isn't it. You know, you've, you've someone said to you what would you like. And if you don't tell them effectively then you can't really blame them if they don't, if they deliver something that you say, I didn't want that. And they can say, well, this is what you said you wanted this all be delivered.

00;27;37;07 - 00;27;38;18
Jonny Dunning
Right? Right.

00;27;38;20 - 00;27;57;22
Christine Stolz
Well, then that's that's a true point. And I've I've had this happen where a business person will come to me and say, we really do not like what they've delivered us. And I was like, well, they delivered exactly what you asked them for, so you can't blame them for not reading your mind so well, that's where you have to.

00;27;57;24 - 00;28;18;12
Christine Stolz
They have to have that communication also. When you have that, when you've had that statement of work and you've discussed it and you've worked on it as a team, I like to work on it with the vendor and, you know, have that meeting. And I've had meetings where they'll say, Well, why do you want this? Why do you want to know what your people are doing?

00;28;18;14 - 00;28;41;24
Christine Stolz
I'm like, Well, honestly, I want to know. I want to close out those assumptions. I want to make sure that you are comfortable with what we think we're going to do because we've got this mutual understanding and honestly, when you work on it that way in a collaborative manner, you're building that relationship. And okay, so maybe something goes slightly off the rails.

00;28;41;26 - 00;29;01;10
Christine Stolz
I'm not going to go for a big thing, but there could be something. Well, you've built the relationship with this vendor, the supplier trust to a degree that they'll say, Well, you know, technically we don't have to do that. But since we've built this relationship, we want to keep it broken and we're going to overlook this and we're going to work on this, honestly.

00;29;01;10 - 00;29;26;12
Christine Stolz
And I don't do I don't ever want to make it into a transactional thing where I'm only nice to the supplier because I want something from them that's not that's not it. It because that'll never work. And and they see right through. They do. They see right through. That is you build that partnership And honestly when you do have those wobbles in the road, you're it's easier to recover.

00;29;26;12 - 00;29;51;15
Christine Stolz
It's not like they're going to be throwing, well you did this wrong and you did this wrong. You want it to be where it's not accusatory if you can prevent it from getting that far, but having that mutual understanding at the beginning is really important. It's actually almost more important than any of the the what do you call it, the compliance and or governance stuff.

00;29;51;17 - 00;30;15;10
Christine Stolz
If you've built the relationship and you've gotten that mutual understanding at that point, the governance in compliance is really in the off chance that something goes above what, what, what you've defined. And honestly, I feel like a lot of times it doesn't even get that far because you've built a good relationship with your supplier between your business and I.T.

00;30;15;13 - 00;30;18;07
Christine Stolz
So yeah.

00;30;18;09 - 00;30;37;03
Jonny Dunning
That's a great point. I want to come back to that a bit later when we're talking about the kind of MSA versus SOW because that governance and compliance that feels a bit more to me in the set it and forget it. But, but let's come back to that because you brought up some really great points. I'm sorry.

00;30;37;03 - 00;30;59;08
Jonny Dunning
I'm basically writing down notes here. So when you're talking about this kind of mutual understanding and what I mentioned earlier about the SOW being like a strategy document for the for the project, that for me is where the interest is. Because because I feel like, you know, an asset in itself is just a boring document. It's just a document.

00;30;59;11 - 00;31;25;20
Jonny Dunning
But. Right. The thing that's interesting about it and the thing that I find fascinating because I'm a get things done type of person like yourself, it's a it's a very useful instrument. It is an instrument that you're using to get that mutual understanding, that mutual agreement, to build that strategy. I like getting things done and I think I think that's why this whole area appeals to me, because it's just it's it makes sense to my brain.

00;31;25;22 - 00;31;51;05
Jonny Dunning
Make sure everyone's agreeing upfront. You know, get it, get it lined up and properly agreed. If you want to get something done, work out a plan and make sure you capture that. And one of the other things that I thought was really interesting was that you said that if, you know, there are lots of projects that you've seen go really, really well and deliver great value, But but if you're not capturing what happened in that project, you can't learn from the good ones either.

00;31;51;07 - 00;32;12;13
Jonny Dunning
That's right. And that's where I see, you know, from ourselves being involved in the technology side of SOW spend management. That's where I see as much of the value is when things go wrong, because in least if you know what's happening, what was agreed, what happened, what changed, what was the what was the outcome? You can you can assess all of these things and it's incredibly useful data.

00;32;12;16 - 00;32;44;29
Jonny Dunning
So you've got a useful instrument that is that is absolutely pivotal and central to a massive amount of money that's being transacted globally every year, tens of trillions and trillions of dollars right? So, yeah, you making some great points. And as I say, that that really comes out to the the back up. The reason is why this is an interesting topic to discuss and it probably would you say would you imagine this is a frustration for a lot of people in terms of how this is managed, whether it's a frustration for the business or procurement or.

00;32;44;29 - 00;33;13;18
Christine Stolz
I think so. And I think this is where it is a frustration. I think also because the things are not properly documented in in. And so my my so in my ideal world that I have imagined, I hand off a let's say I don't really want to my ideal world would be that I was involved in SOW forever.

00;33;13;18 - 00;33;36;22
Christine Stolz
But I know that's by slightly less ideal world as I hand off an SOW to the project team and I go, Here you go here, here's the SOW, here's the scope that you've agreed to. Here's what you guys are going to plan on doing. Okay, go do your kickoffs. Great. But they're also okay. So baseline, that SOW baseline.

00;33;36;24 - 00;34;09;14
Christine Stolz
So now every decision that you make from now on, you add it to a document. So I usually as a project manager, I would do this and I encourage the folks that I work with now from procurement side is have a arrayed so risk issues I also call it there's dependencies risk issues. I know I'm forgetting what the A is for, but assumptions.

00;34;09;16 - 00;34;12;25
Jonny Dunning
Function, assumptions, issues and dependencies.

00;34;12;27 - 00;34;16;00
Christine Stolz
Right. But I also go raid with another D.

00;34;16;02 - 00;34;16;22
Jonny Dunning
Oooh

00;34;16;29 - 00;34;18;12
Christine Stolz
Decisions.

00;34;18;14 - 00;34;20;00
Jonny Dunning
right. Okay.

00;34;20;02 - 00;34;53;05
Christine Stolz
Because what happens is risks turn into issues, turn into all these different things and assumptions churn injections too. But then there's dependencies, but then those turn into decisions and it'll go, well, why did we do that? Well, wait a second. I don't remember why. Let's look at the decision log and I, I usually I know a lot of people do their raid's a little bit different.

00;34;53;07 - 00;35;18;10
Christine Stolz
I like to have it in one document, in one tab of a spreadsheet, and I just categorize them because, like I said, risks turn into issues, turn into decisions. So as it goes through the lifecycle of, of the project, you just change the category when it transitions into the next level. But I want to know what was the problem and why did we decide it that way?

00;35;18;13 - 00;35;42;12
Christine Stolz
And it doesn't matter where it came from business, it can come from the vendor. I want it, I want to capture it all. Because what this also does is it feeds any change requests that come down the line. So this is going to be okay. So this is we had this risk or we had this issue. We did X, Y, Z to try to mitigate it.

00;35;42;12 - 00;36;07;23
Christine Stolz
And this was this is what we decided and this is what feeds the this is the this is what needs to have the change request. Hey, it's going to cost more money. But we this is how we got to this point. And I really encourage project managers to keep that because if number one, it gives you the background on every change request that you ever come up with, it's that documentation.

00;36;07;23 - 00;36;30;25
Christine Stolz
And then when the business goes, Hey, we don't like this. We didn't we didn't we didn't agree to this. Well, you did. And here here's what remember, we had this issue and were the options and you chose this one like, yeah, I guess we should do that because memories are short. Yeah. Especially when you're going through a fast paced project.

00;36;30;28 - 00;36;32;11
Christine Stolz
People forget it.

00;36;32;14 - 00;36;33;07
Jonny Dunning
People are busy.

00;36;33;07 - 00;36;37;25
Christine Stolz
I forget from day to day. Yeah. Yeah. I get the less I remember.

00;36;37;27 - 00;36;59;18
Jonny Dunning
Well, the other thing about it is when you're talking about decisions, if you're if you're documenting it, then it's an informed decision. Yes. And if it's an informed decision, you can back it up. And ultimately that's trade. That's what, you know, people in positions of responsibility want to understand is the reasoning behind this decision. Can we evidence it and back it up and have we got an audit trail?

00;36;59;22 - 00;37;02;19
Jonny Dunning
If so, right. We can move forward with it.

00;37;02;21 - 00;37;23;09
Christine Stolz
Well, and that's just it's just something that it should be naturally part of it. And then, of course, you know, now when it comes back to change your question, I get back involved, I mean in the procurement side and that I will run the change, request through signatures and get the approvals and all that great, great stuff. I don't know.

00;37;23;09 - 00;37;36;29
Christine Stolz
Other organizations do it that way, but I usually get involved in the change request. But my my thing is that a lot of times I get a change request was zero information in it and I'll go, Well.

00;37;37;01 - 00;37;39;14
Jonny Dunning
It's going to be there's going to be a bigger cost. There's something else.

00;37;39;14 - 00;37;56;12
Christine Stolz
Why? Why are we paying for this? Why are we paying for this? Because this looks like a scope that should have been covered in the SOW It looks like this looks like something that should have been the SOW because it gave me zero information. I'm going to question them because I feel like I'm a steward of the cash of the bank.

00;37;56;14 - 00;38;20;01
Christine Stolz
I'm trying to protect the company and I'm going to ask. I'm like, Well, why are we paying for this? Because I look back at the SOW because I want I'm interested in compliance and governance and I'm like, Why are we paying for this? Why are we not sharing the cost of this? Or we definitely need to be paying for this, you know, whoever I want to be involved in that.

00;38;20;01 - 00;38;42;09
Christine Stolz
And I am always saying, you know, guys, you need to document this because in two years when we come back or we get an audit and they'll go, Well, why did you do this? It was a piece of paper that said we needed to spend 10,000 more dollars and or whatever it was $1,000,000 and there was nothing. And and the director said, okay, we're going to pay for it.

00;38;42;15 - 00;39;07;25
Christine Stolz
And that's, you know, that's that's that's the end of it. You need to have that documentation to back yourself up and you want the project to be rational, you want it to make sense. And that's where I feel like documenting things and taking really good notes is so important, which is why I love that you're taking notes while we're talking here, because good notes are really important.

00;39;07;28 - 00;39;17;04
Christine Stolz
Yeah, I always I always take notes. Now, I'm not taking notes now, but I've got some things written down in my brain. I have good, good, good brain.

00;39;17;07 - 00;39;44;13
Jonny Dunning
Yeah, I totally agree with you and with things like change requests, it's one of the biggest things we see in organizations. If they're not capturing the SOW lifecycle in a system which most people aren't effectively, in fact most people, while generally there might be no information below PO level, very scant information which may well have kind of been written by the supplier in a kind of marking their own homework type of situation.

00;39;44;16 - 00;40;06;04
Jonny Dunning
But almost nobody has any visibility of change requests, almost no companies do. And I feel confident in saying that because we speak to a lot of organizations, it's stuff that just or procurement certainly don't. And where the people are capturing that in emails or they're writing in a in a little, you know, book like like I'm in the notes of this podcast, Right?

00;40;06;04 - 00;40;06;26
Christine Stolz
Absolutely.

00;40;06;26 - 00;40;27;19
Jonny Dunning
You know, that is important information. It really is. And it's such a key area where suppliers could be pulling the wool over people's eyes potentially if they're going a bit rogue and taking advantage of the situation, or it could be really legitimate. But ultimately, you don't want to have to be arguing about it after the fact. It should be a part of the process.

00;40;27;19 - 00;40;50;10
Jonny Dunning
And like you were saying about sign off in our system, for example, we see a lot of organizations that will have variable sign off based on the requirement for they for the initial requirement and engagement with the supplier on the sign up for the SOW But then when it comes to change requests, some people will go through the same level of sign off for every change request and it's basically updating the statement of work, referring to the MSA.

00;40;50;13 - 00;41;06;26
Jonny Dunning
But for some organizations they'll say if a change request is like this, it can just go through the PM and it's kind of like a soft sign off. But if it looks like this, then it needs to have a more comprehensive sign off. But, you know, most people aren't capturing stuff around changes at all and they find it particularly difficult.

00;41;07;02 - 00;41;28;26
Jonny Dunning
And that is where what I was saying about that report on services, procurement, technology, if you're buying goods, materials, this doesn't really come up. You know, it's not it's not the same process if you're buying goods and materials, what you're buying is simple, but the supply chain can be extremely complex. And that's how most stores to pay and procure to pay systems are focused because they came out of the evolution of the ERP.

00;41;28;28 - 00;41;51;07
Jonny Dunning
When you look at services procurement, what you're buying is extremely complicated. Variable can change during delivery. You know, I'm just thinking like a agile project that's changing in iterations. So that is completely the opposite. But the supply chain is generally simple, so it's different requirements, but the technology landscape hasn't really caught up with how quickly the market has shifted.

00;41;51;07 - 00;42;12;05
Jonny Dunning
And it's, you know, that article was saying 50% of spend on average in globally across organizations is services procurement. Obviously, that depends. If it's a manufacturing organization, it's going to be skewed towards goods, materials. If it's a bank, it's going to be like 98% services. But, you know, it is important enough for people to have to worry about this.

00;42;12;08 - 00;42;14;07
Christine Stolz
And it's true, very true.

00;42;14;09 - 00;42;37;21
Jonny Dunning
One of the other things I was going to come back to was you mentioned a little bit about scoping and which people you feel it's relevant to have involved with the scoping process. I just wanted to come back and kind of delve into that a bit more deeply because it's such a critical part of it. And one of the things I was going to ask you was where do you think the kind of origination should sit?

00;42;37;22 - 00;42;56;20
Jonny Dunning
Because it will be people collaborating, but where do you think origination should sit in terms of who is it who actually, you know, gets the keyboard going on a word document or puts pen to paper. And if that's what is going to I think that's possibly the hardest bit it is. Where does that origination responsibility sit?

00;42;56;22 - 00;43;23;25
Christine Stolz
Well, it's kind of how I look at it is that the high level scope? Like what? What are we trying to build rely? It's entirely with your customer, whoever the customer is, they need to be telling me, what do you need, What happens a lot is a vendor will do a demo of a nice, nifty tool and then the business cycle.

00;43;23;28 - 00;43;55;28
Christine Stolz
I want that, that, that and that that. And that's how they build it. And they end up losing sight of what their real objectives were. And then in the end, they're always disappointed because they're like, Yeah, I didn't quite get what I wanted. Well, you saw that shiny new tool, and I know you guys have a shiny new tool, and I love your tool, by the way, but at the same time, is that it really it needs to start when you're when you're envisioning what you're going to do.

00;43;56;01 - 00;43;59;19
Christine Stolz
It really feel it needs to be tool agnostic.

00;43;59;19 - 00;44;29;26
Christine Stolz
the really having a clear picture of the problems you're trying to solve and how how do you wish to do that without knowing what the technology could do or and it doesn't matter what it is you're trying to do, having an understanding of what the problem you're trying to solve and how what that looks like, what your future looks like, that's what you're trying to do is the problems and then having an idea of what your future state looks

00;44;29;26 - 00;45;00;26
Christine Stolz
like is really where that starts. And absolutely, depending on how you go about figuring out the details to that. I mean, you can you can have a business analyst sit down with you and talk talk that and get a picture of it. I like to flowchart like, okay, so your problem is this and it's currently like this. You know, what's what what are you seeing in the future?

00;45;00;27 - 00;45;28;15
Christine Stolz
How does how does this work in the future? And from that naturally flows. What what is your scope going to look like? And I like to have that high level because it gets kind of lost in when you start, especially when you're doing like technical projects is you get lost in the weeds of the technical that you lose sight of what your actual objective was or what the problem was that you were trying to solve.

00;45;28;18 - 00;45;54;24
Christine Stolz
Developers and technical people can be quite creative and I love it. And sometimes what they lose sight of is the straight line. They'll they'll think, Well, we can't do it exactly this way or this way, so I'm going to do this workaround and, and I'll and me because I'm I'm not super technical, but I work in the tech field.

00;45;54;26 - 00;46;41;10
Christine Stolz
I go, okay, but what about the straight line? What about well, can we do that? And they're like, Well, yeah. I'm like, well, remember what our problem we're to solve here? We're not trying to solve world hunger and world peace here. We're trying to solve this problem, this discrete problem. Let's let's simplify it. So it's really it's really important to have that basis built into your SOW into your charter for your project and your kick off your you say, here's the problem we're trying to solve and this is what we're what we think it's going to be having that as the basis is really important and ultimately needs to come from the customer.

00;46;41;13 - 00;47;22;27
Christine Stolz
It can be fleshed out through discussions with and I always say I love having business analysts around because that's their job is to question and to flesh out those details and understand what the requirements. And you want to have good requirements. You don't want to you want to have smart requirements. You know, the the all the SMART I know I love to add the extra an extra level letter, but I do I like it to be testable and and the other one which I'm having like senior moments here, I can never remember what half of the letters are for anymore.

00;47;23;03 - 00;47;24;02
Christine Stolz
Well.

00;47;24;05 - 00;47;46;08
Jonny Dunning
Well, what, what I feel like you described in terms of the origination is that the customer almost needs to provide the vision statement for the strategy to be built around it. I mean, as you know, we've been we've been playing around with what we've been doing some cool stuff with generative AI tools around building out requirements where you might start with literally a vision statement.

00;47;46;08 - 00;48;15;04
Jonny Dunning
There's two sentences on I need to build a an electric vehicle charging hub for the City of London, for example. And these generative AI tools can do a very, very good job of guiding you on the street if you use them properly. Like we built an interface to basically pushing in the right direction. Yeah, exactly. But with, with some smart prompting or prompt engineering, as they call it these days, you can basically come up with the right structure.

00;48;15;09 - 00;48;33;23
Jonny Dunning
Lots of really useful background information that gets you started. So if you can just say this is the problem I need to solve, I need a requirements document for this is incredible at doing that sort of work. But but however you get to that basic point, it's probably still going to be only somewhere between 60 and 80% complete and it's still going to need collaboration.

00;48;33;23 - 00;48;37;03
Jonny Dunning
Whether you've written it yourself, utilize an AI tool or whatever it might be.

00;48;37;03 - 00;48;38;10
Christine Stolz
It's true. It's true.

00;48;38;14 - 00;49;06;28
Jonny Dunning
That's where the collaboration comes in. Procurement can look at it and say, I like the structure or you haven't considered this. Where are the, you know, dependencies or what sort of team is going to be needed to deliver this? Yeah. And and so, so once you've so, so the, the customer has a responsibility for that origination in an ideal world, who then do you think has responsibility of kind of carrying the ball forward from there with, with the requirement specification.

00;49;06;28 - 00;49;12;04
Jonny Dunning
Is it something they should sit with procurement to pull in other stakeholders or is that still it's still down to the customer?

00;49;12;07 - 00;49;42;06
Christine Stolz
Well, it depends on how how your your organization is structured and, and Okay. So I'm going to talk ideal world and then I'm going to talk real world. So in the ideal world, the business is going to be collaborating with I.T and all this before procurements even involved. Honestly, I, I feel like we're, we're were tangential to that.

00;49;42;06 - 00;50;04;29
Christine Stolz
I, I know that most people in procurement don't have the background that I have. I know that they're not going to be able to say, hey, you know, do you think you have enough testing in here? You know, or things like that? They're not probably going to be able to say that. However, and in an ideal world, I want them all to collaborate.

00;50;04;29 - 00;50;33;01
Christine Stolz
But know that that just doesn't happen organically. Just because I know a lot of organizations go, well, we know exactly what we want and it doesn't it doesn't know what we want there. There are there are shared service that are cost center. They don't know what we want. They don't know how to make money because a lot of times these project projects are to do something to make money.

00;50;33;03 - 00;51;00;12
Christine Stolz
Great. However, then they they they come up with pie in the sky, crazy, crazy stuff. So in the ideal world, I feel like the the business should be driving that. And I know that doesn't happen. So then so the real world. The real world is that business comes up with their, their vision statement or whatever and I'll push on for it.

00;51;00;12 - 00;51;27;09
Christine Stolz
I'll say, What's the problem you're trying to solve here? And then I try to get all the stakeholders to the table to discuss it. And a lot of times it's me. Get in touch with the vendor going, Okay, vendor We've got, we've reviewed and I don't just say my company doesn't typically write our own SOW, so I'll usually get an SOW They'll get the vision statement to the vendor.

00;51;27;10 - 00;51;54;15
Christine Stolz
The vendor comes up with something and I'll go, okay, here's the SOW We took a look at it and we want to sit down and discuss, you know, here, here, here are the gaps that we're seeing and we want to discuss this. We want to make sure that we're at a mutual understanding. And then also whatever you discuss, you come to an understanding and any discussions and this or that with the vendor or the business, whatever, and make sure that it's captured into the SOW

00;51;54;15 - 00;52;21;21
Christine Stolz
SOW you want it to be captured in there so that it truly is that mutual understanding. So I get the people together, but ultimately I have no decision making power. I don't have that. I try to get the people together and come to that agreement. So in procurement, that's that's really what I end up doing, is getting them to that mutual understanding and making sure the teeth and the governance and the compliance, all that good stuff is all built in there.

00;52;21;24 - 00;52;46;02
Christine Stolz
So that's ultimately what what I'm responsible for. I want it to be successful. Of course I do. I want to be on the team a lot of times procurement doesn't really there. There are only did we did we fulfill the the the letter of the law and that's not necessarily a successful project. So I'm all about what's a successful project.

00;52;46;02 - 00;53;08;07
Jonny Dunning
Well, that's where the money is, isn't it. That's that's where the money and the value is. If you know organizations are paying billions of dollars every year for for services that having delivered if it's if it's just a question of did we where we were against budget or, you know, did we it was a compliant agreement, something like that, That's that's just the absolute basics.

00;53;08;09 - 00;53;30;15
Jonny Dunning
So so it's really interesting to you to hear you talking about flipping it to the customer, having the responsibility to come up with that vision statement. The ultimate need, the basic need in a lot of cases. I totally agree with you that might be actually then fleshed out by a supplier or you might have multiple suppliers that might that you might collaborate with or come up with different ways of doing it.

00;53;30;17 - 00;53;52;29
Jonny Dunning
But I think that so obviously not all procurement people are going to have your background in terms of the actual product delivery side of things, but most procurement people should be able to give a good steer on. These are the type of sections that we need to in on this kind of structure, the kind of content and the kind of checks and balances that has it got that in place.

00;53;52;29 - 00;53;59;15
Jonny Dunning
And they don't need to be a subject matter expert on cybersecurity or whatever the whatever the project you know.

00;53;59;18 - 00;54;23;14
Christine Stolz
And usually what I do is I well, and I have I have someone working for me who's not new IT vendor management, but very new at reviewing of contracts and statements of work, etc.. So what we've been doing is putting together like a checklist of this is what and SOW needs to show obviously references to the master agreement.

00;54;23;14 - 00;54;57;02
Christine Stolz
You know, all the legal stuff is, is is taking care of it needs to show who what how to a high degree milestones. I want to have I want to have the administrator I'm going to call it the compliance administrative type of thing. So change request escalation point all that. I want to have timelines or milestone plan I don't like, I don't like time and materials projects that don't have end dates ever.

00;54;57;04 - 00;55;11;15
Christine Stolz
I want a target end date in there because how do you ever know that you're ever done? Because they will. I mean, honestly, the vendor could say, Well, we're not done. So we're going to continue. Well, but.

00;55;11;18 - 00;55;31;10
Jonny Dunning
That has risks around misclassification as well in the sense of depending on how it's structured, who's doing the work. It's not an outcome at that point, is it, or an output. It's just it's just on the never, never. But there's the kind of balance. But but it doesn't matter if it if it's something that's delivered under that basis, if it's still in line with a deliverable and it's still being delivered.

00;55;31;10 - 00;55;38;16
Jonny Dunning
But it doesn't matter which individuals delivering, it is just the supplier delivering an outcome based on a number of days of consulting or whatever it might be that can.

00;55;38;16 - 00;56;01;09
Christine Stolz
Say, I want I want set the baseline, I want the statement of work to set that baseline. Because if you don't have like if you don't have a timeline of of any sort, you don't have anything. The baseline again. So when you do a change request because you're adding to the you're adding to the scope and like but you'd never defined the timeline.

00;56;01;09 - 00;56;20;20
Christine Stolz
So how do you say that this is going to take more time and more money because you never had a timeline to begin with. So you got to have that. Otherwise it's just kind of the never ending. And like I said in don't honestly, it turns into operations. It's not a project, it's an operational. It's an operational thing.

00;56;20;22 - 00;56;21;19
Christine Stolz
Yeah.

00;56;21;21 - 00;56;36;02
Jonny Dunning
An additional time is additional time might be fine in a time and materials context. Part of a statement of work. yeah. But you can have it as a change request if it's already gone up to the to the date, that's fine. If it needs more time, everyone just has to agree and then no one's going to worry about it in the future.

00;56;36;04 - 00;56;56;20
Jonny Dunning
Right. But another point you brought up there was around the contractual side of it. So just want to segway into another area which I mentioned earlier. I find I'm interested to get your view on, and this is what's the balance between where the legals sit within the statement work versus the master services agreement?

00;56;56;22 - 00;57;24;14
Christine Stolz
Correct. And so and we're going to do ideal world versus real world ideal world. I want all legal terms in the master agreement if I can help it, because what ends up happening is that you execute a master agreement, you execute an SOW you execute another SOW And by the way, they something to the next.

00;57;24;18 - 00;58;04;29
Christine Stolz
SOW just doesn't quite agree with the master agreement and now you have to go, well number one, if you didn't establish precedents of agreements then you have to okay, which one, which one governs and it just, it just ends up being a lot of arguments and people getting things. So I mean the ideal world, I would love it to be all legal terms are in the master agreement because the statement of work I think the only pieces and parts of that that I could even and even some of the compliance and governance stuff I don't feel is legal terms.

00;58;04;29 - 00;58;30;03
Christine Stolz
It's more of this is how we're running this initiative. However, we're going to run it and it's each project is different and each time we need to do to agree on those compliance and governance, things like around change requests and stuff like that. But for the legal, what's going to be the base terms for every agreement need to be in the master agreement.

00;58;30;10 - 00;58;55;16
Christine Stolz
So let's say it's services and you'll say, okay, you even change your request. You could have that in there. If you say this is our change request process, this is how we're going to run it for single project. So therefore it should be in the master agreement. Anything that is bespoke for each individual statement of work then then there's some argument that you can have it in the in the statement of work.

00;58;55;18 - 00;59;18;22
Christine Stolz
I just don't typically I don't prefer to have any, any terms. And a lot of times I'll get statements of work from vendors and they'll insert some stuff and it essentially contradicts what their master agreement already states. And I just cross it out. I say it's already covered in the master agreement. I'm not renegotiating this. It makes the life a lot simpler.

00;59;18;24 - 00;59;40;21
Christine Stolz
And then, you know, in the case that we would actually have to enforce a term, whatever that term is, I don't have to go. Okay. Well, let me look at every single agreement we've ever done with you guys and figure out which one works. Yeah. And I don't have to do that. So that's typically what I do on a lot of times I do.

00;59;40;21 - 00;59;57;18
Christine Stolz
I just so they'll probably they'll put in intellectual property stuff and I'm like doesn't belong in the SOW it’s in the master agreement. I'm not discussing it again. We already went through that. We went, through the lawyers and all that. My statement to work. I like it to be lawyer free.

00;59;57;20 - 00;59;58;00
Jonny Dunning
Yeah.

00;59;58;07 - 00;59;59;16
Christine Stolz
And I'm not sure reasonable.

00;59;59;23 - 01;00;03;29
Jonny Dunning
That frees up a lot time really, doesn't it, for the process to execute it?

01;00;04;01 - 01;00;41;15
Christine Stolz
It does. I want anything that's going to require the lawyers to be in a room together, to be in the master agreement. That statement work by that time and again, it's about relationships is the lawyers are there just to make sure it's legal. They're not building the relationship at all. They're not that's not their point. Their point is to get the best terms possible for their client, but not necessarily the best outcome of it, because they've got a different they've got a completely different agenda than what the people working on the SOW do.

01;00;41;18 - 01;01;02;23
Jonny Dunning
Yeah, I agree. And I feel like sometimes it's the master services agreement is more likely to be contentious. Yes. And and that's where the lawyers need to get involved and the lawyers need to have their conversations and it needs to be fair and equitable and everyone needs to be happy with it. Once that's agreed that fills me to more and more in that category of set it and forget it.

01;01;02;25 - 01;01;13;03
Jonny Dunning
You know, it's always that whole thing of like when you've got a great relationship you shouldn't have. You shouldn't have to look at the actual legal terms unless something goes wrong, really correct.

01;01;13;03 - 01;01;29;08
Christine Stolz
Because that's the way I like it to be that way because I mean, I like when project managers or people that are involved in the team, the project team get involved in the master agreement. But in, in the end of the day I want them to have.

01;01;29;10 - 01;01;30;15
Jonny Dunning
It.

01;01;30;17 - 01;01;59;07
Christine Stolz
There, their statement of work or their project documents, whatever they want to call it, you know, proposals and statements of work or whatever the heck they call their documents that they're working off of. I want them to have that. I don't want them to have to worry about the legal stuff that that is is completely on the side of what happens in the statement of work and understanding what the services are and great, you know, if they're involved.

01;01;59;07 - 01;02;15;28
Christine Stolz
But at the end of the day, I want them to come back to me. If they have a problem with terms, I don't want them to go. I don't understand this leak. I don't need you to understand the legal. Just bring me the problems and we'll work through the legal piece and I'll get with the lawyers and we'll we'll figure it out.

01;02;16;00 - 01;02;46;20
Christine Stolz
I don't want them to say, well, I don't understand that. So and oftentimes, project managers are so busy and underwater, you know, any project leader, I'm not going even say project managers, any project leader usually are so underwater with work and busy that once it gets to that point, they they some have the avoidance they do the avoidance thing and I'm like well that doesn't help you either.

01;02;46;23 - 01;03;09;17
Christine Stolz
If it's something that needs to go back to the master agreement and you go back to the legal terms, bring it to me as soon as possible and maybe I can just say, Hey guys, this is in violation of what you agreed to. What can we do to resolve this so it doesn't get to the point where the lawyers need to be involved or, you know, there's any kind of litigation involved.

01;03;09;20 - 01;03;38;14
Christine Stolz
I don't want to get to that point. But without having that that partnership with with, you know, the project leaders, the business, that's never going to happen. And that's why I like to be involved even beyond when, you know, when it's signed and they're they're on their way. I now tell them, you know, if you have issues with your vendors, let me know if you're not getting delivery on what you what you think you're getting, let me know.

01;03;38;17 - 01;04;02;20
Christine Stolz
And we could talk through it now and then I'll go also what's your documentation? Because we've gotten to, you know, over the years I've gotten to the point where people say, well, we think you are in breach. Like, well, breach is kind of a hard legal term and you have to have proof and you need to be able to go, you know, be the lawyer and can't go.

01;04;02;22 - 01;04;24;15
Christine Stolz
This is my proof here. Yeah, X, Y, Z, here's my evidence. You can't just go and say, Well, I feel like I didn't deliver. Well, feelings mean nothing in the end, but having those good relationships, you can address those things before they become problems that need to go to a court or whatever.

01;04;24;18 - 01;04;49;23
Jonny Dunning
Yeah. And like, like you said, the MSA, when you're dealing with those legal terms, the lawyers have to make sure they've covered worst case scenario and it sometimes fails is conflict. Conflict. When you're going through that worst case scenario, it's like, you know, when you write a will and the person's going so okay, so if if you die and they die and your your children all die, what happens then?

01;04;49;24 - 01;04;51;00
Jonny Dunning
You know, it's like worst case.

01;04;51;00 - 01;04;52;05
Christine Stolz
Yeah. Yeah.

01;04;52;08 - 01;05;14;18
Jonny Dunning
So, so basically splitting that out, I can definitely see the value in that and having it all understood and agreed takes us through a process that is documented and that everyone understands what's required of them. You're keeping you keeping on top of your change request. You know what changed? You know why you know the reasons you can look back on it.

01;05;14;20 - 01;05;28;22
Jonny Dunning
So if you were to bring that all together, how would you describe or what's your view on the best way to manage non-performing months to get the best possible outcome?

01;05;28;25 - 01;05;37;16
Christine Stolz
Well, I feel like it's kind of kind of the same kind of principle that you use with an employee.

01;05;37;18 - 01;05;38;12
Jonny Dunning
Right?

01;05;38;14 - 01;06;02;19
Christine Stolz
You have the soft hey, this, you're not doing this great. Let's let's see of ways to improve this and you need to do it so many times, whatever that whatever that is, depending on the importance and how the time criticality, you know, sometimes you don't have a lot of time. It's like, we're failing, we need to solve this right now.

01;06;02;22 - 01;06;29;27
Christine Stolz
But it and ideal situation is that you do have those soft, hey, you're not performing, you're not performing, then you escalate it, you're not performing, you're not performing. And then you get to the more formal, Hey, I'm I'm writing you a letter and I'll even email it to him, email it to him and say, Hey, just sure where we're writing a letter we're going to be.

01;06;29;29 - 01;06;51;18
Christine Stolz
We have problems with performance and we're writing you a letter. And usually when I say letter, they get all like, my God, what are we going to do to fix that? That's where it usually it doesn't even get to the point where you have to have there's the lawyers don't even have to get involved. As soon as you say you're writing a letter, they're like,

01;06;51;20 - 01;06;57;16
Christine Stolz
You mean you're sending something through the mail? Yes, yes, I'm sending something through the post.

01;06;57;18 - 01;07;02;23
Jonny Dunning
So is this when it comes down to the to the sign on your desk?

01;07;02;26 - 01;07;26;01
Christine Stolz
Yes. Yes, it does. I mean, that's like fundamental. I was funny when I found that sign. I was like, this is absolutely my motto as everything is figure-out-able. And I will tell you that there has been very rare cases that I've had to get beyond the hey, I need to escalate. I mean, yes, I've had the soft words.

01;07;26;01 - 01;07;46;21
Christine Stolz
Hey, this is not this is not what we agreed to. And you guys need to perform better. We need X, Y, Z by the date or we're going to miss her dates. And if we miss that date, then guess what? Any changes over and above that. It's on you. And hopefully at that point because there's that mutual understanding they got.

01;07;46;27 - 01;08;11;03
Christine Stolz
Yeah, yeah. That kind of is on us if if do it and I know this happens sometimes when you have like and this is something going back to the is the you don't want to have a lot of turnover in your team. So that goes back to one of the sections that I'd like to have too is that they can't just swap out people that will.

01;08;11;05 - 01;08;35;15
Christine Stolz
Yeah. So go back to that section, put that back in your checklist is they can't swap people out at will because what happens is you lose that mutual understanding, that relationship consistently over time and then you end up having those contentious things and then you have to escalate. And when you escalate, you better have your backup right behind you.

01;08;35;17 - 01;08;58;25
Christine Stolz
Okay? Okay. So and it's not just a feeling. I'll just say, hey, I've let them know on this occasion, this occasion, this occasion that they that they're not performing. And now I'm bringing it to you because I feel like we're not getting traction. And and these are the problems that we're seeing. And I and if you need emails or whatever to back up, that's great.

01;08;58;25 - 01;09;20;02
Christine Stolz
I will provide those. But let's have a discussion on how we can turn this train around, how we can get it back on the on the rails and we can get to our objective, hit those pens and make a success because it's in everybody's best interest to be successful. So rarely does it get beyond that.

01;09;20;04 - 01;09;32;25
Jonny Dunning
Yeah, and that's where if you've documented stuff and you've got a good mutual understanding within your statement of work in the first place, then what it means is you can just it takes the emotion out of it.

01;09;32;28 - 01;09;33;28
Christine Stolz
Yes, it does.

01;09;34;00 - 01;09;55;11
Jonny Dunning
Just like, you know, the document doesn't lie. The information, the captured doesn't lie. It's just a rational conversation around, okay, this is what you said would happen. This is what's actually happened. You and I can both see it's not they're not the same thing. So I just think it's such a critical part of it. And then you say you should be able to focus on having a great relationship with that supplier.

01;09;55;11 - 01;10;00;02
Jonny Dunning
And. All right. Going through the figure out figure out of all that process.

01;10;00;07 - 01;10;44;09
Christine Stolz
No, absolutely. And I find, though, that when and I know that the in the US, I know it's very much the customer's always right and that's not so we're not always right. However we need to be realistic and and and also reflective on what we've not done correctly. But at the end of the day, you know, we need to do what we agreed to do and so and this is where I always go back to that a needs to be irrational and the emotions need to be out of it is we need to be rational and we need to look at what we agree to do and then go, okay, so okay, so we

01;10;44;09 - 01;11;07;07
Christine Stolz
didn't deliver this on time. However, you're you're telling me so let's say in this happens a lot where they'll say, there was a dependency and I'll go, Was that really a dependency? Was that called out that you absolutely had to have this to continue on or was it critical path or was it nice to have so that could move forward?

01;11;07;07 - 01;11;32;09
Christine Stolz
What else could you have moved forward on in the interim that could have kept the project going while we figured out how to resolve this issue? I've I've I I'll just say one project I was on, we had to deliver some data and we were having problems, the data out of the system. We were just it was it was not as simple as we initially thought.

01;11;32;11 - 01;12;06;23
Christine Stolz
And the vendor was like, well, because you delivered this data, we can't deliver X, Y and Z. And I was like, Well, I don't understand. We can give you double data while we're trying to get the real data out. I mean, we can, we can do that. But I'm, I don't feel like we're at a standstill here. We can continue moving forward and maybe we can move things around now when we get to the part where it is critical path and there is no other alternative and we cannot move forward, that's another story.

01;12;06;25 - 01;12;31;22
Christine Stolz
But we should always be flexible enough to move forward and keep going. And when you get to the point where everything is critical path, then it's just, yeah, there's there's not much you can do at that and hopefully you don't ever get to that point. But sometimes it does, it gets to that point and then you're going to have to go, okay, so I didn't deliver this and you weren't able to move forward.

01;12;31;22 - 01;13;01;14
Christine Stolz
Okay, so that's on me. X, Y, Z is on you. So how about this? Let's split the cost of this change request to get this move in. It's not all on us. It has not all on you. So let's be reasonable. And that's my philosophy here, is we need to be reasonable it leads to a much better relationship and much better outcome in the end, because you definitely don't want a supplier that you've completely pissed off and they hate your guts.

01;13;01;16 - 01;13;28;08
Jonny Dunning
So it it comes back to just to kind of round things up. It comes back to what you're saying at the beginning, but having those guardrails and ultimately the aim being to, you know, not the pens down and get get the best outcome. And I think, you know, I've really enjoyed this discussion and I think it makes it very clear that going back to kind of how I introduced the topic, you know, statement works just to document pretty simple.

01;13;28;08 - 01;13;57;04
Jonny Dunning
Maybe some people might consider it a bit boring, but if you actually look at the process, you look at what we just talk through, it's highly complicated and it's highly valuable. So it's it's yeah, it's a simple, but it's a complex thing. My question for you is just to kind of finish up the conversation. My question to you is, with all this experience and with this knowledge terms of this, this is going to be I think this is going to be a useful piece of content for people to to listen to and to watch to just hear the experiences here.

01;13;57;04 - 01;14;11;21
Jonny Dunning
What you're describing stuff and also strategies around these problems a lot of organizations will face. What else have you got any other plans to do, any kind of content around this? Because information there, what what are you planning on doing know?

01;14;11;24 - 01;14;37;06
Christine Stolz
So it was funny because recently on some personality, personality type of thing, it was saying what what is your your goal in the next year? So I've and it was funny because I wasn't for a couple of minutes and then immediately came up with and I've been kind of tossing this around for a while, is to write a book about statement to work because.

01;14;37;06 - 01;14;59;19
Christine Stolz
It really is. I mean, that's the guideline for me as a project manager. It it's so in there and I find there's so few people who know a lot about it. I've been doing a lot of educational programs at my company and I'll get anybody who's willing to listen and it doesn't have to be a project manager I like.

01;14;59;19 - 01;15;23;00
Christine Stolz
I want to talk about statements work because I feel like you as a stakeholder in any project, even if you're just coding a code, I'm going to use a derogatory code monkey. I think even if you're a code monkey, you should understand what the statement of work is and how it works because it does impact you. Even if you don't think it does, it really does impact your work.

01;15;23;02 - 01;15;46;16
Christine Stolz
So and I really feel like the more that know about it, then we can get to this place where statements are works are, this mutual understanding and we can be more of a holistic and work together collaborative type of thing. I don't want it to be just this is where you you have something to hammer over people's. That's that's not the point.

01;15;46;16 - 01;16;16;05
Christine Stolz
The point is to make value and to be successful. So I'm looking forward to sitting down and starting to write that. And then probably also I've done some speaking engagements at some conferences and I'm looking forward to continue to do that. And obviously I'm I'm willing to connect with anyone on LinkedIn. So if anybody's interested or wants to talk, hey, I'm, I'm, I'm your gal.

01;16;16;07 - 01;16;41;26
Jonny Dunning
Yeah. I think it's so important for people like yourself to get the word out there because like you say, a lot of people don't really understand the the nuances of this. And and as we've discussed, it might be a fairly simple thing, but it's a useful instrument to achieve great things, great outcomes, great cost savings, great revenue generation and great relationships with suppliers.

01;16;41;29 - 01;16;53;28
Jonny Dunning
And and actually, what you were talking about there with regards to lots of all types of people within projects, understanding the statement work, how many people work under a statement of work in terms of what they're actually delivering And they need to understand as well.

01;16;54;04 - 01;17;13;19
Christine Stolz
Well, that's true where they work. How many times have I been with an implementation partner and nobody on the team has ever seen the SOW Yeah, and it was like really? Okay, well don't worry because everyone's going to see the SOW except for the commercials. We don't need to know what we're paying for, but everybody needs to know what we're planning on doing.

01;17;13;21 - 01;17;29;17
Jonny Dunning
So I'm really, really pleased that you're, you're going to be doing that. I really look forward to seeing any content you're putting out and and listening to any speaking stuff you do. And I really appreciate you coming on to the podcast and talking about this. And I'm I'm delighted that we managed to cover the topics that we have.

01;17;29;23 - 01;17;46;16
Jonny Dunning
We could probably load more that we can do, but I've got we once you start sitting down and breaking, breaking out how you're going to put this content together, yeah, I think there's going to be a lot to it. But I look forward very much to that. But I really appreciate you taking the time to come and have a chat.

01;17;46;18 - 01;17;53;01
Jonny Dunning
And yeah, I hope, I hope people will find your insights on experience useful. And I'm they will. Right.

01;17;53;03 - 01;18;08;22
Christine Stolz
And you know, if anybody wants to throw darts at it and tell me they disagree, absolutely. See that this is me. I'm about collaboration and, understanding and, you know, refining how how we do things. So I'm all for it.

01;18;08;25 - 01;18;31;22
Jonny Dunning
It's all part of the fun. And ultimately, this is about having an open about stuff where problems are being and potential solutions are being discussed, approaches are being mentioned, anecdotes and examples and experience are brought into it that benefits anybody who's involved in this area. If people want to comment, if people have got disagreements or people want to find out more, that's for me, that's the important thing, is getting the conversation.

01;18;31;24 - 01;18;40;05
Jonny Dunning
And for me it's also a great learning experience. So again, really appreciate it. Enjoyed the conversation, all of your insights and yeah, I'll be keeping on.

01;18;40;10 - 01;18;53;26
Christine Stolz
Thank you very much. It's been very fun talking to you as well and how. Yeah, fully. Hopefully I get some feedback as well because I love feedback. Good or bad, positive or constructive.

01;18;53;29 - 01;18;57;08
Jonny Dunning
Brilliant. So listen, thank you very much, Christine. I really appreciate it.

01;18;57;10 - 01;18;58;24
Christine Stolz
Have a wonderful day.



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