There are many things to consider before beginning a project. We’ve already looked at best practices when it comes to project management, but there’s another important item worth completing at the beginning, and that is the Scope of Work – or more commonly known as the SOW. Sometimes an SOW is also known as a Statement of Work, which is essentially the same thing. In this post we will discuss the importance of an SOW and what you should include and consider when creating an effective SOW.

Sow What?

According to the Business Dictionary, an SOW is defined as a “detailed description of the specific services or tasks a contractor is required to perform under a contract.” Essentially, the SOW is an important document that outlines exactly what is going to be performed for a project. This is very helpful because it can help set expectations for the customer and the entity providing a service. Jim Haining presented on the importance of a SOW, and he writes “a detailed SOW is probably the most important element of a successful request for quotation/proposal or contract regardless of whether it is for goods or services.” Think of an SOW as a way to ensure that both parties are getting exactly what they want. It also serves as a document to refer to later down the line as the project unfolds.

What to include?

There are many different approaches to take when creating an SOW, but The Balance suggests you should include a project overview, deliverables, scope, schedule and management. The deliverables section should be sure to “include all the expected goals and targets” so that whoever is performing the work should know the expectations. The scope section should include the technical considerations and tasks that are involved in the project. The schedule section further breaks down the timeline outlined in the deliverables. It’s also important when writing the SOW to consider how payments will be issued, potential legal issues, labor costs, and any known or potential challenges that should be relevant to the work.   

Remember when writing the SOW, you want to consider the end user and all the points that are important to them. Ideally a subject matter expert will draft the SOW, but you can also pull in suppliers or third parties for their input as well if you want to make sure all your bases are covered. Make sure you save backup copies of your document if multiple versions are being passed around. We recommend using Sharepoint as a document management tool. You can learn more about it in a previous blog post.