So you’ve been tasked with creating a Statement of Work, or SoW.
That powerful document that details everything including a project’s purpose, resources, schedule, milestones and costs. The supporting contract document and blueprint that keeps the project scope on track.
Sounds a little daunting, right? It doesn’t have to be. While it is a very detailed work document, it’s just a way of capturing the facts in a clear and logical order, and you can tap into several resources to get the information you need.
In this article, we’ll provide an in-depth look at what to include in an SoW. We’ll also give you a template you can paste into a document to kickstart the process.
What’s in a Statement of Work?
Most Statements of Work follow a standard format and include a common set of contents. You’ll have to decide what is most important to include based on the project scope. Engage your stakeholders, subject matter experts, and leadership for their input.
Here are some of the greatest hits of SoWs, and the ones you probably want to consider.
This is your statement of what the project/engagement is and what work will be done. Provide a brief backstory of the issues that led to the need for a solution and explain the proposed solution and the project. Limit this section to three or four paragraphs that include details like:
- The need for the project, including a description of events leading to this need
- A description of how the work relates to the company’s missions and priorities
- Key terms and acronyms that will be used throughout the SoW
- Any additional background information that would be useful in clarifying the project
Purpose & Objective
This statement explains the need for the project. The purpose statement should clarify the problem(s) to be solve and what you’ll achieve to successfully fulfill the project’s purpose. A well-defined objective statement looks like this:
The purpose of this project is to design, build, test, and launch a more comprehensive order management system. It will enhance the organization’s ability to track and process orders from different channels.
Scope of Work
The Scope of Work defines the limitations of the work performed during the project.
The scope is meant to explain the intent of the engagement, not to explain how the work will be done. This section also prevents “scope creep,” by serving as a reference when new tasks are introduced or requests are made.
Your scope of work should include:
- An overview of the specific tasks and phases of the project
- A description of the methodology to be used
- A description of the physical location where work will be performed
- The project timeline including phase completion and stop/go decisions (a process map would be a great visual here)
- Identify any work that would not be performed by the project team (out-of-scope)
Document the amount of time needed to complete the entire project from beginning to end. You should include:
- How long each deliverable should take to complete
- How many hours to allocate per week, month, or sprint
For visual people, a snapshot of your timeline or Gantt chart can be a great way to support the schedule.
These are the outputs of the project and evidence that the contract requirements were met. Write in clear and simple language, getting very specific about how deliverables should be submitted, and give clear instructions for how they will be evaluated for approval.
Be sure to also:
- Link the deliverable to other objectives and deliverables
- Distinguish the deliverable from anything related (technical writing vs. training development)
- Describe the testing that will verify that it meets the requirement
- Provide a means to measure the quality of the deliverable throughout the project lifecycle
- Describe the evaluation and acceptance process
Here are some examples to give you a better idea:
- Creation of End User Instructions by Technical Writer, final draft due by [date], to coincide with product release and training plan
- Technical Review of documentation must be conducted between Technical Writer and SME within one week of submission
- Documentation approval based upon determination of accuracy during technical review
- Rejected documentation must be revised and resubmitted within one week of result
These are the activities and milestones that need to be completed to meet the larger deliverables. You’ll describe the work to be performed, and you can write them as processes with specific milestones. Clearly written tasks are also important for reducing scope creep.
You should include:
- A detailed description of each task, with specifics on how one task relates to another (e.g., how does testing relate to development?)
- Specific start and finish dates
- The timeline and deadline requirements for each task
- An estimate of hours required to complete the task
- Detailed information on each resource including staff, software, equipment, and contractors
- Any internal or external project dependencies
- Every project task in sequential order
- A clear delineation of what each team member is responsible for
If your deliverable is a new customer interface on your website, one of the tasks may be designing a new contact form and a related task to write the scripting for the form.
Each of those tasks will have a specific resource assigned to them, a period of time to be completed, and criteria for approval. Those are the details you’ll need to spell out.
Top tip: You should also include a Work Breakdown Structure.
A Work Breakdown Structure is useful for breaking down larger projects into more manageable tasks. Consider using project management software like monday.com to manage and organize your tasks and their respective sub-tasks (we call them sub-items).
Milestones represent key points in a project timeline. They generally mark the completion of major tasks or critical decision points. Monitoring milestones lets project managers know how a project is progressing and whether they need to make any changes.
Examples of milestones include:
- Project kickoff
- Obtaining funding
- Important client meetings
- Stakeholder approvals
- Key testing phases
Testing and compliance
Is the product or service regulated or will it require testing to meet thresholds and industry standards? If so, state the type of compliance required like this:
- All phases of development must undergo User Acceptance Testing
- System must remain in compliance with ISO 27001 standards
- Processing of customer’s information must remain in PCI compliance
Costs and payment terms
What are the costs associated with each component of the project?
Detail the frequency of billing and payments, and how payments are issued. Include how invoices will be received, requirements for purchase orders, and payment approvals.
You can even tie payment terms to milestones reached along the project life cycle (e.g., 15% of the total cost is due upon completion of the first milestone).
What determines the success of the project? How do your stakeholders define project success and what are they expecting from the product or services? Gather their detailed input and define it here.
Acceptance criteria defines the conditions that must be met to accept a project. Here you can specify who is responsible for reviewing and authorizing the work, and what happens in the event a project doesn’t meet your standards.
If you’re hiring an agency to build a mobile app, an example of an acceptance criteria is compatibility with recent versions of iOS and Android devices.
Get sign off
The final step before you release the SoW is to get approval and sign off. You don’t want to execute a process without the authority to do so. Getting sign off also ensures that stakeholders have the same expectations and understanding as the project team.
An SoW template
Here’s a basic template you can use to write your Statement of Work. You can go ahead and copy and paste into Word or a Google Doc.
This Statement of Work is between [your company] and [client], and will be effective on [date].
- [Describe the need for this project]
- [Include relevant background information]
Purpose and objectives
The purpose of this project is to [describe the main objective]. It will help [describe the problem the product or service solves].
Scope of Work
[Client] will be responsible for delivering a [product or service]. All work will be carried out at [location].
- [Include additional details about what work is included and not included]
The project will be delivered according to the following schedule:
- [Include a list of when deliverables need to be delivered]
The client will develop and deliver [product or service] by [insert date]. Reviews must be conducted within [timeframe] of delivery.
- [Insert additional deliverables]
Tasks include the following:
Milestones are as follows:
Testing and compliance
The contractor shall comply with standards of work as defined in this section.
- [Project] must be in compliance with [standard].
Costs and payment terms
A payment of [insert total cost] will be delivered upon final delivery via [payment method].
The project must meet the following criteria. Products or services that fail to meet these requirements will not be accepted.
- [Insert acceptance criteria here]
- Rejected [product or services must be revised and resubmitted within [timeframe]
Click here for another Statement of Work example.
A few language tips
Keep all of your terms consistent. Don’t confuse the reader by using “vendor” in the first paragraph and “supplier” in the third to describe the same party.
Make sure to spell out your acronyms. Don’t make assumptions about what the reader knows, so be sure to write out the name of the expression the first time you use it, followed by the acronym in parenthesis in your Statement of Work (SoW).
Use direct language to describe the responsibilities of your resources. Words like “must”, “shall” and “will” are important distinctions from words like “may” and “should” which are too ambiguous for the SoW’s purpose.
The Statement of Work is no small task, but it is your best tool for maintaining control over your many project management responsibilities and keeping your team operating at the highest possible standard.
It will help you set expectations, avoid conflict and resolve issues, and deliver world class results every time.
How monday.com helps you create an SoWThere’s a lot that goes into creating an effective SoW. It contains key information like project scope, deliverables, payment terms, and more. Having everything in one place will help as you prepare an SoW document.
monday.com offers a flexible and intuitive platform that lets you organize all your work in one workspace. Use our project charter template to put together an SoW and keep everyone in the loop
Here’s what the project charter template looks like:
Once you get approval, use our project deliverables template to create a more comprehensive project plan.
Here’s what the project deliverables template looks like:
Our templates let you quickly get started and centralize your work. You can also customize your boards with different column choices and rearrange them in any order.
Ready to create your SoW?
An SoW serves as an agreement between you and an agency, subcontractor, or service provider. Getting the details right is important as it defines exactly what will be delivered.
Whether for a software development project, an office fitout, or a logo redesign, it’s in your best interest to create an SoW.