To develop a statement of work (SOW) that is not too vague, too broad, too generic, too technical is a tricky task that is essential to the success of a project. Ensuring that your contractual document does not leave any room for interpretations is easier said than done. Developing a solid statement of work will not only assist you in ensuring all scope, deliverable, and pricing is outlined, it also sets guidelines and standards which all parties shall be required to stand by.

In order to develop a SOW that is clear, concise, and captures all goals and objectives, follow these simple steps:

First and foremost, you need to understand what a SOW is and the exact purpose. A SOW details the required scope of a project, milestones, timelines, sets expectations, deliverables, and clearly outlines pricing and service level agreements. The next step is to determine what information should be included within the document. The more precise the SOW is, the better since this is a binding document between your company and a supplier. When developing your outline for the document, there are several key components which should be included:

  1. Project Title: Provide a high level title of the project.

  2. Project Specification: The first paragraph of your SOW should outline the date, parties involved in the SOW (with Legal addresses), and any additional Legal information that may be required from our organization. This section may also include the contract term and when all work and deliverables must be completed by.

  3. High Level Scope of Work: Populate this section with a brief overview of the project and goals.The SOW should clearly identify what constitutes as success or failure, which differs depending on project and scope.

  4. Objective: The objective of the SOW is to define the scope of services, roles and responsibilities, timelines, and costs with providing the services and deliverables outlined in the document.

  5. Project Scope and Definition: This section will list all the tasks that must be completed. It is important to be as detailed as possible. Avoid verbs that can lead to vague statements, the verb "shall", for example, definitively states which party is to do the work and is binding. 

  6. Deliverables and Assumptions: All SOW's should clearly outline both client and supplier deliverables and assumptions along with descriptions of each. 

  7. Resources, Roles, and Responsibilities: Resource names, titles, descriptions, and responsibilities should be clearly outlined. 

  8. Project Scheduling: It is important to clearly outline important milestones and completion dates to ensure projects stay on track and to monitor progress. 

  9. Service Levels: Service levels, metrics, and key performance indicators should be outlined relative to the specific SOW to ensure supplier's performance and/or deliverables meet expectations. 

  10. Project Cost: Ensuring that all project costs are clearly outlined is critical when developing a SOW. The project cost section should include as much pricing detail as possible, such as rate card, service cost breakout, and any other outlined costs.The project cost section should also tie payments back to each specific milestone or line items.

  11. Change Control and Project Acceptance: Establishing a mechanism to deal with change is critical to the successful management of the project constraints, and therefore the success of the overall project. It is also important to include acceptance of the SOW as the final component.

Having a well-defined SOW is critical to the success of a project by outlining specific, measurable, and detailed results. The SOW can also be used as a tool to assist others in getting up to speed with the scope of work and costs. Taking the time to capture the correct information will save time long term by establishing a detailed project planning document of all milestones, deliverables, and expectations.

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Danielle Rosato

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