Back to Basics: How to Write a Statement of Work

by Barry on August 25, 2010

Post image for Back to Basics: How to Write a Statement of Work

Writing a Statement of Work (SOW) is one of the most important things that an agency does. Frequently it is the first deliverable that a client sees. It is crucial that your SOW is telling the client a story. It starts with the “why”, then moves to the “how” and “what”, followed by the “when”, and “how much”. Everything should be cohesive with a flow so that it is easy to follow. Don’t treat the SOW as a “form” that you simply fill in the blanks. This article explains what is contained with a SOW, and provides a SOW template that you can download and use.

Contrary to what many people believe, the Statement of Work (SOW) is not a sales tool. It should only be given to clients after you have their agreement as to the scope, schedule, key assumptions and price. Many people believe that the SOW is where you first present this information. WRONG! The SOW is a legal contract used to document the agreement only after the business terms have been agreed. This preliminary agreement can be verbal. This means that if there are price issues (and there always are!), have those negotiations before the SOW is presented. Yes, you could ignore this advice and use the SOW to negotiate the contract but doing so will always take more time.

As input to the SOW, it is important to have:

  • Timeline developed either in Microsoft Project, Excel or a similar program
  • Client verbal as to the scope, schedule, key assumptions and price

All SOWs contain the following sections:

  • Objectives
  • Scope
  • Schedule
  • Price
  • Key assumptions
  • Acceptance

Each section is explained in detail below.

Objectives
Defines the “why”. The objective section states the marketing or business objectives of the project, and a high-level overview of the solution. This ensures that we have clarity as to why we are performing this work, and begins to weave the story.

Scope including inline assumptions and deliverables
Defines the “how” and “what” of the story. The scope section defines the work that is being done, and the process for how it will be performed. This is your task list and it should be written in process form so that it flows as following:

  • Kick off the project
  • Develop Creative Brief and present it to client for review and approval
  • Develop up to three creative concepts

Assumptions are the most important part of any SOW and any assumptions that you made when scoping and estimating the project should be included here. The assumptions should be included inline with the tasks. It is also important to state exactly what deliverables are being produced, including the details that accurately describe each deliverable including the description, size (either expressed as approximate number of pages or number of designs, and should be expressed using the terms “up to” so that if you produce less, that you are still fulfilling the contract).

Many people include tasks within the list of deliverables. This is incorrect. Deliverables are just that…they are items that you hand off to the client for their review and approval. For example, the “Creative Brief” is a deliverable, however “Presenting the Creative Brief” is not a deliverable because it is a task. One litmus test to verify if something is a deliverable or not is “can it be emailed?” Also, never make status reports deliverables as you do not want to be in a position where you are asking the client to review and approve every single status report (I’m not saying that status reports are not important because they are crucial. They are just not a deliverable.)

Do not give the client options or alternatives in the scope. All of the decisions should have been made by now. The SOW should be written as a definitive statement.

Schedule
Defines the “when”. The schedule section provides a detailed schedule. Minimally it should include all of the client and client’s partner touch points. The format is less important as you can either develop this as a table in Microsoft Word, or you can get-and-paste images directly from Microsoft Project into the SOW document. The data should include the task and end date. Task start dates are optional.

Price
Defines the “how much” of the story. The pricing section needs to include the price including both time of staff and outside expenses. It should also discuss the pricing assumptions such as is this fixed fee or time and materials, how outside expenses are handled, payment terms including a payment schedule, and if payments are based on a milestone/deliverable or a schedule (if you are an agency, you generally want date-based, if you are a client, you want milestone/deliverable-based).

Key assumptions
Assumptions that are not related to the scope are included here. Any scope-related assumptions should have been already included in the scope section. Do not repeat assumptions as this will lead to errors. Instead use this section to document any general assumptions that are not stated elsewhere. Also if you do not have a Master Services Agreement (MSA) or Professional Services Agreement (PSA) executed with the client, you can use this space to document the key MSA/PSA terms.

Acceptance
The acceptance section contains the client signature and the signature from the agency’s key executives overseeing the project. You should not start the project without having client signature. Doing so is asking for trouble so if you have any exceptions, you want to be sure that the agency management team agrees to doing so since they are accepting significant risk by starting without having signature. Also when you are audited, the auditors will look to ensure that all signatures are obtained (including the internal agency signatures).

Other Important Considerations
The SOW should not reference any external documents as its basis. All materials should be built into the SOW. For example, don’t refer or link out to a separate schedule, instead put the schedule directly into the SOW. The reason is that since this is a legal contract, it makes it much more difficult to refer to outside documents.

Make sure that the SOW is proofread carefully from different perspectives. First it should tell a story. Second, make sure that the solution is actually solving the client’s problem. Third, be sure that you are not overcommitting the agency. Make sure that you can deliver on the price. Finally, make sure that all the “T”s are crossed and the “I”s are dotted.

SOW Template

Here is the SOW template that you can download and reuse. This document is provided on an “as is” basis.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

www.facebook.com January 26, 2015 at 3:26 am

The nerves that come out of the spinal column control the body’s functions
such as your vital organs, sensations, muscles, and all movement by your extremities.
The two pelvic bones are joined through a joint on either side of your
sacrum. Try to wake with the sun (roughly at 6am every day).

Reply

Donette January 15, 2015 at 3:41 am

Rain is considered to be a good sign, owing to the fact that it
is said to bring blessings. An “adult-only” reception may eliminate the stress of keeping an eye on so
many children, and may allow tired, over-worked parents the chance to have a much needed night
out. Although you might be unable to control whether or
not your beloved smears the frosting across your face, you can certainly make the best of the moment by using a
beautiful wedding knife and server.

Reply

vimeo.com January 12, 2015 at 4:08 am

Lawyers who think like entrepreneurs will see that this stale emulation method doesn’t work and they’ll find a new approach.
Not the cost of lawyer, but the litigation process. Last
of all, why give up your property in advance when you
could continue living there and surrender it in the bankruptcy filing.

Reply

http://www.perthcriminaldefense.com January 8, 2015 at 8:36 pm

Just find out if your potential truck accident attorney is willing to meet somewhere other than the office for the
consultation. Make certain you ask the lawyer how and when they want their
fee paid. The first and foremost requirement for an online divorce is the first.

Reply

read even more January 8, 2015 at 9:12 am

Asking questions are actually nice thing if you
are not understanding anything totally, however this piece of writing
provides nice understanding even.

Reply

Carmine January 8, 2015 at 3:42 am

I’m now not positive the place you’re getting your information, but great topic.
I must spend some time learning more or figuring out more.
Thanks for excellent info I was searching for this info for my mission.

Reply

AC December 28, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Good article.

Is it advisable to put pictures (instead of words to help better understanding) in the SOW?

Reply

Www.Rotmax.com December 24, 2014 at 7:08 am

What’s up, constantly i used to check website posts here in the early
hours in the daylight, for the reason that i love to
find out more and more.

Reply

Kelsey Diamond’s Obsession Phrases December 17, 2014 at 3:21 am

He said that I should have my first destination clearly planned out.
Sometimes there are even buy one, get one free deals, and you want to get in on that.

And then slowly move closer to her while keeping your hand on her arms
and shoulders for a few seconds longer.

Reply

Rochester NY SEO Campaign December 8, 2014 at 4:04 am

Going to a doctor with thousands of hemorrhoidectomy experience is better than going to a doctor
who only had one procedure. The belt reduces food intake by cinching the stomach
to evoke the feeling of being full. Nothing is worse than telling a person who wants
to give you their money that you have nothing
to offer.

Reply

Nicola November 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

Thanks, I was asked to produce one at short notice and this was a great refresher, much appreciated !

Reply

gout diet book October 29, 2014 at 9:22 am

Excdllent goods from you, man.I havee keep in mind your stuff prior tto and you’re just extremely
magnificent. I actually like what you’ve acquired here,
certainly like what you arre stating and the best way in which you asserrt it.

You make iit entertaining and you continue to take care of to keep it wise.

I can’t wait too learn far more from you. This is
really a terrific website.

Reply

Gilbert October 25, 2014 at 6:42 pm

You might assume that in order for a parrot to be able to imitate the human voice.

This means we need to shift to another perspective on a regular basis and remind
ourselves how it feels to connect with God
through our hearts. Then follow it with adequate protein intake
(also include vitamin rich foods in your diet). A good introductory meditation is to focus on a point in a stream
as viewed from a bridge. They designed a
lot of shorter pictures that it’s one, however nearly all that listed flick models connected with phase techniques who magicians
would need as a way to do.

Reply

Ivory October 22, 2014 at 5:22 am

fantastic post, very informative. I wonder why the opposite specialists
of this sector don’t notice this. You should continue your writing.
I’m confident, you have a huge readers’ base already!

Reply

http://franzoesische-bulldogge.jimdo.com/ October 13, 2014 at 8:40 pm

I know this site gives quality dependent articles or reviews and other material,
is there any other website which provides such stuff
in quality?

Reply

deer hunter 2014 region 5 October 8, 2014 at 8:13 pm

I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and amusing, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head.
The issue is an issue that too few menn and women are speaking
intelligently about. I am very happy I came across this in my search for something regarding this.

Reply

thorstromphotography.com October 2, 2014 at 7:59 am

wonderful insight. Really enjoyed browsing this blog. Keep up the good work and to everyone keep on learning!

Reply

Web Page September 30, 2014 at 8:14 pm

I am regular visitor, how are you everybody? This paragraph posted at this website is actually
nice.

Reply

moroccanoil intense hydrating mask September 29, 2014 at 11:21 pm

I must thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog.
I’m hoping to check out the same high-grade content from you in the future as well.
In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own, personal website now ;)

Reply

article writing spinner software September 25, 2014 at 7:25 pm

I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here.
The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish.
nonetheless, you command get got an shakiness over that you wish be delivering the following.
unwell unquestionably come more formerly again as exactly the same nearly a lot
often inside case you shield this increase.

Reply

btv solo September 25, 2014 at 2:52 pm

fantastic points altogether, you just won a logo new reader.
What may you suggest about your post that you made a few days in the
past? Any sure?

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: