What is Statement Of Work In Project Management
By Kavita JhaveriNov 15, 2019
Whichever industry you come from, there is an emphasis of project management laid across all industries. One imperative aspect that exists non-stop through the entire journey of any given project is paperwork. There is no escape without it.
Moreover, there is usually a vast amount of paperwork which needs to be created, seek approval from authorities, then filed, and in the end archived for future reference.
Of all the documents which cannot be done without, the most important is the Statement of Work. It is like the mission statement of any company. Forms the basis or the crux around which the project forms shape.
Since it is drafted right before the initiation of the project, this becomes a type of portfolio which highlights the ingredients which need to be baked into the project so to say. Along with the quantum of the ingredients, the process of combining and utilizing the value of the ingredients, to what extent and ultimately what effective form shall the recipe take.
In other words, to give it a broad literal definition, it is formal document that outlines the entire scope of the work which is to be touched upon to give it the final finish. It becomes a necessity when external agencies, intermediaries, suppliers etc. become a part of the project execution. These parties ofcourse co-exist with the internal project team.
The Statement of Work defines the deliverables, cost elements and the scheduled timelines in order to achieve the end result. The external vendors obviously need to be explained explicitly, in a time bound manner what resources are available, how they need to be deployed and within what parameters. This makes the work efficient, smooth and the internal and external teams work in tandem.
In most cases, it also becomes a mandate as per legal settings and is binding on all parties, should any make a slip out. So to avoid in disputes, this document is used as a coercion to validate the project and give it a legal entity.
Inclusions of a Statement of Work
· Milestones arched for a project and its deliverables
· The ambit of a project and its end purpose
· Timelines and Schedules
· Tasks assigned individually
· Expectations in terms of output
· Terms & Conditions, Clauses,
· Resources assigned to the project
· Cost structure and payout model
Benefits of Statement of Work
This detailed overview of the project is a ‘fallback’ or referring document for people who are attending to the project. Especially when the scenario is such that many collaborators are involved whether permanent or temporary.
So also the project leaders find it easy to better prepare themselves to scale or pace up the project as per the broad definition. While there can ofocurse be no alterations made to the essentials of the formal document once the legal stamp gets on it. Nonetheless, they can accordingly guide the team whether the project execution is in match with the set boundaries.
This structured plan sets the framework to build on with practical momentum. As comes with people working with each other, there are bound to be conflicts, hence this document assists in avoiding them, and keeps those involved on the same page keeping confusion and intervention of support elements to the bare minimum.
Since everything is on paper and documented, each individual is accountable for their role towards project contribution. If let’s say however, due to unexpected conditions, there is an add on of work or the time period gets extended, then this document helps in moderating the budget as per renewed situation.
A statement of work which is substantial enough, should know how to address any restraints or assumptions that are in light or likely potential problem areas. The specific chain of responsibility should also be defined for project elements at each stage of the project life cycle.
Distinct Types of Statement of Work
A SoW can be categorized into three main types which are further explained below:
Design or Detail based: This SoW conveys how the work needs to be get done to the supplier. This type sets the tolerance levels, quality checks and most importantly, exact measurements of the material to be used. The risk of performance is borne by the project planner since the supplier makes the provisions of work as per the set terms and is not free to dictate his own.
Effort levels/Time & Material/Unit Rate: This type is applicable and accepted universally. The hourly deliverables of the service are defined here as well as those materials which are essential in nature to perform the tasks. It finds more value in short-term contracts, since the defined period is minute.
Based on Performance: This is a flexible type of SOW in the sense that the process to be followed to accomplish the work is not charted out. Hence those involved in the execution find themselves at freedom to apply their own mind on how best to reach the final destination.
This is the most sought after SoW by project managers as it outlays the critical element - the purpose of the project, the resources to be utilized and quality parameters to maintain in the deliverables.
Here’s How to draft a fantabulous Statement of Work
When it comes to putting up a Statement of Work, it is best to use a template. Most of the templates will comprise sections on set of glossary of terms which shall define terminologies being referred to in the SoW. It shall contain an empty portion which is meant to be filled with the statement of purpose, as well as miscellaneous yet vital admin information.
The SoW is an in-depth information loaded document meant for official use. There is always the option to create it on one’s own merit, however to ensure nothing goes amiss a supportive tool will prove to be highly remarkable. There is one shot that you can give this document, so might as well make it the best correct.
Keep the language of the document simple so that it can be easily understood by all concerned. Be specific and don’t over exaggerate unnecessarily. Avoid jargons.
Set a clear demarcation for who is going to do what and by when should those tasks be accomplished. This approach abandons confusion in the later stages of the project when any sort of miscommunication or disputes can be fatal to the shelf life of the project.
It is also advisable to incorporate visuals or images in the document so as to make it lively and not make it mundane. Most important for the SoW is to get it scrutinized and endorsed by a legal or higher authority. It is your prime responsibility to see to it that those in authority have signed off on the statement of work.