Scope of Work Form

A scope of work is a form that provides a detailed explanation of work that will be performed as part of a contract or subcontract. A scope of work (SOW) is important because it helps ensure that the parties involved are on the same page regarding expectations related to the project. Tasks are numbered and there is space for an adequate description of the tasks, the required equipment and services, and who is responsible for the cost of the project. A scope of work form should be signed and the parties involved should keep a copy for their references.

What is a Scope of Work? 

A Scope of Work is a framework document that will outline the work that will be performed under a contract or subcontract. This document is not an actual contract, but it will detail the expectations for the job or project. A Scope of Work is typically broken up into various sections that detail the specific tasks and their individual deadlines.

The Scope of Work document may lead with a statement of purpose, which can be an overview of the job or contract. There can then be individual sections for the specific deliverables. Each section should include detailed information about the task and its deadline. There should also be a section regarding payment. This can include payment for the entire contract or payment per individual task. This information ensures that both parties are aware of their responsibilities regarding the assignment.

The Ultimate Guide to Scope of Work Documents

By FormSwift Editorial Team
May 4, 2021

Introduction

Here is our guide to scope of work documents (SOWs). We cover everything you need to know about SOWs--what they are, their use, what to include, how to draft one, and how to make sure your managers or team members stay within the limits of one.

What is a scope of work document?

A scope of work (SOW) document details the various elements and responsibilities of a project--its life cycle, timeline, size, etc. In general, a project manager drafts SOWs for employees or contractors. SOWs serve as the primary document informing a project; they, therefore, should be clear, concise, thorough, and easy to comprehend.

Components of a SOW

A well-crafted scope of work, sometimes referred to as a statement of work, should include the following components:

  1. Objectives: What is the purpose of the project? What are its goals?

    • The project objectives should be clear, concise, and easy to identify. You want every employee from high-level team members to entry-level assistants reading the document to have no doubts regarding the project’s goals.

  2. Deliverables (and Milestones): What end result must be attained? What are the deadlines or delivery dates for each phase of the project?

    • Deliverables may be measured by phase, period of time, the date of the project’s completion, etc.

      • Project deliverables may be tangible or intangible.

      • Regardless how you measure deliverables, they should be quantifiable.

  3. Variables: Variables include cost, schedule, resources, and the technology required for each phase of the project, from initiation to completion.

    • Each variable should set clear limits on inclusions and exclusions.

  4. Requirements (besides actual output): requirements include all things necessary to support the project.

    • Common requirements include things like a proof of originality.

  5. Tasks: these include a catalog of individual action items required to complete each phase of the project.

    • Tasks should be broken down into a work breakdown structure (WBS)

      • Anything that isn’t part of this WBS is considered outside of the SOW.

  6. Inclusions: this includes anything included in the project in the SOW.

  7. Exclusions: this includes anything not included or specifically stated in the SOW.

  8. Glossary: include a glossary in the SOW. It should explain each acronym used and include definitions of any unusual terms

    • When crafting a glossary, think from the perspective of someone outside the industry. What terms do they need explained, defined, or spelled-out?

Sometimes, a SOW may include a problem statement, which addresses a potential problem that the contractor is addressing for the company, as well as a detailed explanation or working thesis to establish how he or she will resolve such a problem.

Writing Tips: when writing a SOW, be sure to avoid ambiguous phrases or phrases that may be open to multiple interpretations. Furthermore, if something is mandatory, use words such as “must,” to reiterate.

Scope of Work Template 

A scope of work (SOW) document is an agreement on the work to be performed on a project -- a map that guides the completion of the project. A SOW is a project scope statement used when working/collaborating with people outside a business/organization to avoid miscommunication, misinterpretations of expectations, presumptions, and/or disputes; a scope of work in project management is a project plan that details everything that will be completed for stakeholders. To be effective, a SOW must have explicit details, visualizations/examples, definitions of terminology, time for reviews and unexpected changes, and definitions of success.

For functionality, a scope of work (SOW) document should include the following sections:

  • Introduction: This section describes the type of work being done -- a service or a product -- and the parties involved. The introduction can also define the formal agreements that the SOW can be used to create later, including a standing offer, an agreement to buy a service or product at a certain price for a particular period of time, or a legally binding contract that formalizes mutually agreed upon details.

  • Project Overview/Objectives: This section explains the project -- its context and goals.

  • Scope of WorkThis section describes in a general fashion the work that must be performed to complete the project, using bullet points or an uncomplicated summary. This section can also include the technical requirements involved.

  • List of Tasks: This section lists the specific actions that must be taken to accomplish the project. The tasks should be broken down into phases such as  research/planning, design. build, and test.

  • Project Schedule: This section describes how long the project will take, the timeframe, and the phases/milestones involved, where the project work will occur (including any meetings), the resources required  and who is responsible for completing each task.

  • Project DeliverablesThis section defines the expected outcomes of the project -- exactly what will be received when the project is completed.

  • Adoption Plan: This section describes the process for putting the deliverables into place.

  • Project ManagementThis section details how and when payments will be made/pricing, who is responsible for signing off on the deliverables, approving any changes to the scope, and support/maintenance, and any additional requirements that need to be agreed upon.

  • Standards for Success/Sign-Off/Signatures: This section describes how the deliverables will be accepted at the end of the project -- authorized, reviewed and signed off on.

External SOW Templates

Statement of Work Template 

A statement of work, sometimes referred to as a scope of work and often called an SOW, is a contract between a business/organization and  and a client, especially nonprofit and education-based clients, that takes the place of a more formal agreement. Although the terms scope of work and statement of work (SOW) are often used interchangeably to describe important documents in project planning, the scope of work can also be defined as a component of the statement of work -- a legally binding document that includes all the terms for which the parties are responsible.

A statement of work should include the following sections:

  • Introduction: This section should include the purpose of the project and its importance for the stakeholders.

  • Project Goals:This section explains the goals of the project. 

  • Scope of Work/Project Objectives and Deliverables: This section should detail how all the tasks are to be completed and what is required for their completion, how the completion of the tasks will affect the outcome of the deliverables, and how the deliverables will come together to finish the project.

  • Project Layout and Timeline: This section should detail the project schedule, including kickoff, task completion dates, stakeholder review dates, deliverable completion dates, testing spans, and project closeout.

  • Terms and Conditions: This section should include everything that depends upon the delivery of the project and any additional support required from the stakeholders, including payment terms, security clearances, travel requirements, testing support, hardware or software systems access, the standards for accepting deliverables, the definition(s) of success for the stakeholders, and who will review/approve the deliverables.

  • Completion Criteria/Signatures: This section should include language that binds the parties to all the terms in the document and a spaces for the parties' signatures.

Scope of Work Example

Birthday Party & Party Invitations 

Deliverables

  • Guest List

  • Addresses of Guests

  • Invitation Cards

  • Addressed Envelopes

  • Postages

Timeline of Project

  • Jan. 15 - Finalize guest list

  • Feb. 15 - Finalize list of addresses

  • March 15 - Pick invitation card style and have them all printed

  • April 15 - Buy postage, envelopes and mail the invitations 

  • May 15 - Note final guest list

  • June 15 - Birthday Party 

Benchmarks

  • Final guest selection and list of addresses 

  • Mailing all guest invitations 

  • Finalizing the list of RSVPs 

Reports

  • Check on the mail status of invitation cards

  • Check RSVPs against invitation list

  • Finalize total cost of each pre-party step to determine remaining budget for the party

Sources:              

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Sample Scope of Work

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