Project Management Guide
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What Is a Statement of Work in Project Management?

A Statement of Work (SOW) is a formal document that defines the entire scope of work involved for a vendor and clarifies deliverables, costs, and timeline. It is needed when a project involves vendors and external contributors in addition to the internal project team. You usually create a SOW as part of a bid document or part of a contract. It is vital that the SOW is clear to all stakeholders in order to clarify the metrics for success and avoid disputes involving deliverables, budgets, or timelines.

The statement of work should include:

  • All deliverables and due dates
  • The individual tasks that lead to the deliverable, and who these tasks are assigned to
  • The resources needed for the project including facilities, equipment, and QA procedures
  • The governance process for the project
  • Costs and deadlines for payment

Other terms related to statement of work are project charter, and project objectives.

Statement of work example

To better understand this piece of the project management process, it’s important to look at a sample statement of work.

It’s probably clear from the above list of typical inclusions that a SOW is usually a substantial amount of work once properly created. One thing that can help you get started in creating your own statement of work is to view a sample statement of work or start with a statement of work template. While different industries will have specific requirements for a statement of work, each project management statement of work example will typically start with a summary of the SOW and a table of contents directing stakeholders to each section. 

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How to write a statement of work

In this basic sample of a SOW, you can see that it’s best to begin by summarizing the scope of work for the project before outlining the panel of team members with responsibility for the project’s outcome. Then you’ll list important actions and associated deadlines and accountability for each of these actions.

The statement of work should also include the timeline for the project, the budget and payments anticipated, and the standards expected for each item budgeted. The statement of work will also likely include internal and external standards for this type of work and the criteria by which the deliverables will be accepted. 

A statement of work is an extensive document and critical to keeping your project on track, on budget, and delivered on time.

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