Having recently had the pleasure to participate on industry panels and later engaging in conversations with potential external partners, many discussions meander to a similar topic: Owner expectations in project management (i.e. ‘Standard of Care’ or ‘SOC’).
Considering the great relevance of this topic and with years of lessons learned, I truly believe that significant value can be derived from composing and sharing a series of articles. I hope that sharing this knowledge can benefit others in the industry.
Defining Standard of Care
A legal term, Standard of Care can be expressed as a set of expectations delivered in accordance with the best practices of the respective industry. Quite simply, an organization selling subject matter expertise is expected to provide the utmost care and delivery in accordance with their industry’s practices.
Standard of Care can consist of a formal set of practices defined in an industry’s best practices, or it can be informal and unwritten, based on an industry professional’s past experiences.
Either way, incorporating a Standard of Care and the expertise into every project is providing a value-added service essential to project success. Such expertise, as defined in the Project Management Institutes' 10 Knowledge Areas; www.pmi.org , includes the following:
Standard of Care – Why is it important
The downstream effects a project has doesn’t live at the project level alone nor just at the end of the project. The continual outputs over the life cycle feeds into the organization’s overall business processes; albeit with: Accounting, Sourcing, Treasury, Financial Planning, Investor Relations, IT, Security, etc. Each of these business units are a project stakeholder as they have interests being represented. These interests, Enterprise Environmental Factors, (EEF, www.pmi.org ) are drivers into how the project is managed and the overall care that should be facilitated.
The implementation of a strong Standard of Care is essential for the following reasons:
Gap Analysis and Alignment
It is essential that external partners understand the level and types of care the Owner is seeking, even if it is not implicitly stated in the agreement. They should understand how the project dovetails into business operations with the respective EEFs. It is prudent to align those expectations against their intended plan and perform a gap analysis to achieve resolution on project deliverables.
What is the End Goal?
Ultimately, the goal is to execute a thorough, comprehensive level of care that delivers the product while demonstrating controls and metrics that align with enterprise factors. In the project planning process, the management team must be aware of those ‘hot button’ items with the Owner and incorporate these factors into their strategy and delivery, and more importantly how these factors will be managed and delivered – to what level of tolerance and care.