Stephen Charron, Senior Mechanical Engineer
When we are deciding to have work done on our personal property such as a house or car, we want to be sure to have a clear understanding between the parties involved. We want to know what will be done, how long it will take and how much it will cost. If you have had firsthand experience with this type of transaction, I hope it went smoothly. I think that many of us have heard stories about contracted efforts that didn’t turn out well. There is nothing quite like that sinking feeling in your stomach when the contractor proclaims “the job is finished”, and you are left thinking, “wait, what about the rest of the tasks? I thought they were included?” I don’t think anyone would want to be a participant in the situation described above, let alone experience the disappointment, lost time and additional money required to get things finished correctly.
At Columbia Tech, establishing a clear set of mutually defined expectations with our valued clients is critical to the success of any project. We utilize a set of comprehensive tools to get a detailed understanding of the work required by our engineering services customers, and then collaborate to generate a clear Statement of Work (SOW) outlining the tasks required to achieve our clients’ goals. The SOW is the first document we compose to kick off our proposal process. The SOW is a comprehensive document containing information defining the project and goals including detailed task lists, project assumptions, deliverables, and milestones for each of the phases of our Phase Gate Process. As part of the proposal process, Columbia Tech reviews and updates the SOW directly with the client so every task is clearly understood, and the client has an opportunity to ensure all project tasks are properly described and included.
Once both parties agree that the SOW is complete and represents the project scope and requirements, a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is completed that aligns directly with the SOW and traces the effort that will be applied to each task. The WBS is a tool to provide detailed insight into the amount of time and type of technical resources required to accomplish any given task from the SOW. At the completion of each phase, the SOW can be modified to include additional scope not previously understood to be required. The SOW and WBS are reviewed together with the client to confirm the scope of the project and the depth of resources required to complete the tasks.
The culmination of the SOW and WBS efforts puts both the customer team and Columbia Tech team on a solid footing to begin the project with a clear and complete set of tasks. The most important aspect of all of these tools is the ability for Columbia Tech to have a clear point of documented communications during our engagement with our clients, enabling us to provide the right task at the right time to achieve our clients’ commercialization, personalized to meet their specific requirements. Columbia Tech strives to provide our customers with results that exceed their expectations and gets them to market more quickly than their competitor!