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SOW Best Practices: The Three Pillars Model

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Spend Matters welcomes this sponsored article from Michael Matherly, who leads the SOW practice for Geometric Results, the world’s largest independent, conflict-free MSP solutions provider.

To conclude our series on how to get to best practices with SOW (read the prior posts here and here), we look at how to implement and sustain them once they have been determined. The Three Pillars Model offers an effective strategy.

What is the Three Pillars Model?

No matter what type of non-employee labor program your company manages, it must be effectively developed and maintained to succeed. Best practices never seem to emerge on their own. Alignment with some sort of governance plan coupled with review and feedback will validate your best practices, helping you fine-tune. The Three Pillars model demonstrates the integrated nature of non-employee labor programs, which will allow your program to reach peak effectiveness.

Pillar 1: Governance

The governance model is the glue that holds the entire non-employee labor program together.

Many programs are composed of disparate spend and labor types, so they need a mechanism that serves as the decision-making framework. An effective governance model ensures the most appropriate and preferred courses of action (i.e., best practices) are taken to effectively support the underlying needs of the spend and labor requests coming into your company’s program.

Pillar 2: Validation

A strong program governance model can’t stand alone. It cannot be expected to remain unchanged from year to year, in part due to ever-changing economic, political and business environments, which make constancy impractical. Therefore, governance framework practices should be routinely challenged to ensure they continue to meet the correct objectives and are revised when appropriate. Best practices, then, are those validated practices that have met and withstood the test of time and challenge.

Pillar 3: Segmented Best Practices

Sometimes, best practices need to be modified or narrowed to meet the specific needs of a program’s various labor and spend categories.Since practices for acquiring non-employee labor vary across categories, may change during the lifecycle or may separate into multiple sub-categories, general best practices should be rewritten to accommodate these differences. So, segmented best practices are inherently written to align with the lowest common denominator of the subject to which they will be applied. It is important to note that not all best practices need to be or should be segmented. Some general best practices need to remain for overall program continuity.


All three pillars, as well as continuous feedback and improvement, are necessary to effectively support a contingent labor program. However, one bubbles up as the most critical: validation. This aligns program situations and underlying needs with the best course of action.

But why validation? In most cases, the challenge isn’t how to support the need; it’s determining what the need is to ensure the right best practice is applied. Make the wrong decision, and no best practice will save it.

Because non-employee labor programs are becoming increasingly complex, the ability to accurately route the varied intake requests to the correct best practice is critical. In the most successful programs, best practices change, either by design or out of necessity, to adapt to changing fact sets and to maintain relevance in an ever-changing environment.

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