SOW automation is used across industries, typically by government procurement teams and sales teams to reduce cost and time. Kari Frey, program developer for the ODOT is building an impressive suite of SOWs that she automated on Documate. She tells us about the SOW process and the ROI on automating hundreds of pages of definitions, references, and conditions with nearly a thousand potential permutations.
Like many procurement teams and sales teams who dive into Statement of Work (SOW) automation, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) started with a narrow but robust scope of work for their first automation creating SOWs on Documate: creating architecture and engineering contracts. These contracts define drawings of bridges and environmental studies that need to be done in each project. This is the phase before shovels hit the ground.
The ODOT started with the architecture and engineering SOWs as a POC, and there are 37 different discipline areas for which the department is automating SOWs, including environmental, hydraulics, traffic, roadside development, railroad contracts, and more. “It has been very easy with the toolset that Documate gives us, even though we didn't know if any system could handle the complexity,” said Frey. “We watched the tutorial videos, and now we’re able to generate documents in seconds instead of months.”
Prior to using automation software, the SOW process took valuable time and effort to scope and create, and the outcomes were not consistent. Multiple parties also needed to be involved in the creation of templates for the proposal process. The department did not have a single standardized process for developing these SOWs. It might take 9 months to look through precedents, determine the right provisions and the approved content, update the language, and prepare the SOW.
Now that the company uses Documate, an employee can click on the discipline areas, answer questions that take them down different logical pathways and generate a set of three multi-hundred page documents. The document sets created for these statements of work consist of:
The potential permutations to the wording is huge, as there are 340 possible links and 400 potential terms and definitions. These terms might relate to straightforward terms like payment terms and timeline, but many of the determinants of how the statement of work is created are more complex particularities of the proposal and the parties involved. These documents were originally stored in Microsoft Word, so using software with a Word integration was also key to speed.
After proving out this first procurement types, the department will move on to other types, such as goods and trade services, or personal service contracts. “Baby steps,” said Frey. “Over 400 pages of baby steps.” While the process was complex prior to Documate, once the department had all of the potential combinations they wanted to build into Documate, it took less than a week to get it set up. Because the documents need to be updated every month, it was very important to be able to make tweaks at any time, without being limited to having a technical expert who could code. That's why it was so important to the ODOT that the platform is no-code.
The department drafts 200 of these SOWs each month, so they estimate that the workflows they’ve built are saving them thousands of hours, so the impact to the business has been huge, as they've been able to boost performance, improve focus, and reduce the cost of the creation of each proposal.
While SOW automation can be used by internal team members (like the services team) or for external parties interacting with your company in the industry, the ODOT's use case was for internal users at this time.
So what’s next for the ODOT? They plan to expand the automated statement of work workflows they’ve set up on Documate to make these public-facing in the near future, allowing consultants in the public arena to participate in entering the data that creates the contracts. And as they demonstrate what they’re working on to other teams, the use cases are expanding, too.
If you're interested in streamlining the process to create proposals and statements of work and replicating the results of the ODOT, book a time with our team at Documate here.
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