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What is a Statement of Work?

By ILX Team | 19 September 2019

The Statement of Work (SoW) is easily one of the most important project documents. Created at the start of the project, this is an agreement between a client and an agency. It outlines what the project does and does not include.

What does a Statement of Work include?

Essentially, the SoW captures and defines all aspects of the project. It’s a note of all the activities, the deliverables and the project timetable. The SoW also lays the groundwork for the project plan.

It needs to be well written so that there’s no room for interpretation. Yet it should allow room for flexibility if you want the option to make changes without a change order. As an outline, a Statement of Work includes:

Overview – what the project is, why it’s happening and what it will achieve

Governance – who has approval

Approach, phases and tasks – how the project will be completed

Deliverables – what the project will produce

Timeline and milestones – when it will be delivered

Costs – includes an estimate and payment schedule

Assumptions – what is and isn’t included

What a Statement of Work doesn’t include

An SoW should only include tangible things that you’re sure the project will deliver. For example, your redesign of a company website will bring many benefits, but you wouldn’t claim it will boost their web revenue by 15%. That’s because your project team can’t guarantee or even take full responsibility for another company’s revenue.

Is a Statement of Work a contract?

An SoW is not necessarily legally binding, but it can be. If it’s accompanied by a formal legal contract, that will take legal precedence over the SoW. Without such a contract, the SoW will carry a lot of legal weight. Therefore, it’s important to get the details right and ensure both parties fully understand it so it’s not disputed later.

Statement of Work writing tips

Writing a Statement of Work might seem simple enough, but when deciding what to include and exclude, it can seem much more complicated!

  • Brainstorm – start by writing down everything that you think needs to be included
  • Write it early – it’s tempting to start the project and complete the SoW further down the line, but make sure it’s one of the first things you do
  • Define success and failure – but don’t add metrics and intangibles, or you may find these become written in stone
  • Time – make sure you include the times for reviews to take place

Statement of Work template

Project

Client name

Agency name

Project name

Begin date

End date

Place of performance

Introduction

[Describe the project's outputs]

Scope of work

[Give a broad overview of what is and is not included in the scope]

Work requirements

[Add a detailed descriptions of the tasks]

Schedule/milestones

Deliverable due date

Deliverable description

--/--/----
--/--/----
--/--/----

Acceptance criteria

[Include a broad description of how both parties will know when work is acceptable]

[Tick boxes that list all the mutually agreed upon criteria]

Other requirements

[Special requirements, such as security clearance, IT restrictions, required maintenance/downtime, etc.]

Approved by:

_______________ Date: _________

_______________ Date: _________

Our vision and values

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