Tips Suggestions for Writing Statements of Work or Working with a Professional to Create all the Necessary Paperwork without Error
General Guidelines for Writing an SOW:
Brainstorm first. Before a company begins writing Statement of Work documents, brainstorm the pieces of the project that should be included, and which details would be better negotiated during later phases of the project or contract management process.
Writing Statement of Work in the early stages of project development. Writing an SOW in this early phase, when most projects are still taking shape, can help define and develop the project itself.
Define success and failure. Make sure to clearly define what constitutes a successful or an unsuccessful project. The objectives/purpose and acceptance criteria sections should provide details about what the project’s goals are and what an acceptable end product should look like. If there are any criteria that would deem a project unacceptable, these should also be included (e.g., for a design project, acceptable criteria might be using the colors pink and black, and unacceptable criteria might be using the colors blue and orange, based on the client’s brand guidelines).
Include times for formal reviews. Scheduling times for reviews throughout the project lifecycle in the SOW is important for ensuring the work is on track. This gives the client a chance to verify that the contractor is meeting their specifications, and an opportunity to give the contractor guidance on what they’re doing right and what they can do better.
Use specific descriptions of project scope, requirements, and goals. The objectives/purpose, scope of work, and requirements and tasks sections are very important. The language used must be precise, so that nothing is misinterpreted after the work begins. If the client needs to include supplementary documents with more specific information, such as an RFP, SOO or PWS, make a note in these sections to refer to the attached documents. Avoid listing options or alternatives, since these leave room for interpretation—and misinterpretation—later on.
Agree on the details before writing the SOW. When writing Statement of Work it should not be used to negotiate project guidelines — it should document an agreement already reached between the two parties, or of the specifications already determined by the client.
Define any acronyms and potentially confusing terms. Make sure to spell out any acronyms used in the SOW, and avoid using overly technical or industry-specific terms. You want the language in an SOW to be as clear and straightforward as possible.
Involve the whole team. An effective SOW is a team effort, so get input from all team members who have a stake in the project. Have as many people as possible review the SOW and be prepared to update it as new information is discovered or becomes available.
Keep the SOW as brief as possible. While a good SOW should be able to capture all the necessary details, try to keep the SOW as brief as possible. Reason being, the other party will usually feel compelled to show the SOW to their attorney. This will cost the contractor unanticipated legal fees. The crazier the exclusions, clauses, and exceptions written in, the more concerned the contractor will be, and it could affect the final outcome needlessly.