Define Success of Next Project with a Well-Written SOW

March 20, 2019

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A Scope of Work (SOW) is a formal agreement between a service provider and the customer. It specifies all the criteria of a contract, detailing exactly what is expected of the vendor, and giving direction and purpose to every facet of the project. The SOW should always ensure the customer and vendor are on the same page at all times. A well-written SOW should outline:


  • Work activities
  • Deliverables
  • Timelines and milestones
  • Pricing
  • Quality requirements
  • Governance terms and conditions
  • Budget allocations


Both the contractor and construction manager will reference the SOW as the project gets underway, and—perhaps most importantly—will help avoid ambiguities and situations that might lead to disputes. Every contract is unique and therefore requires a unique SOW. Because of its importance to the project, it is extremely important that the SOW be as accurate and clear as possible.


Wording is Key

The wording in a SOW must be clear enough to allow for only one interpretation. This will minimize the risk of claims, litigation, and related problems.

  • Avoid ambiguous phrasing.
  • Clearly identify project deliverables and objectives.
  • If an action is mandatory, use the words “shall” or “must.”
  • Don’t be afraid to include drawings, photos, charts, or other visual elements to provide clarity and prevent confusion.


A standard Scope of Work document contains the following elements:


Project Overview: a brief summary of the project (e.g. “Company A will provide end-to-end mobile app development services to Client Z in a collaborative environment to meet the business objectives of Client Z”.)


Deliverables: Specify the goals and targets that must be achieved through the project, including information that will help a contractor in understanding the project’s requirements.


Technical Considerations: Include specific techniques or methodologies relevant to the contractor’s performance and how performance will be measured.


Tasks: Detail specific requests and tasks needed to satisfy project objectives.


Price: Clearly define the project cost for the project, resource expenses, overheads, pricing assumptions based on fixed-fee or time and materials project, payment terms, scheduling, etc.


Key Assumptions: Define the conditions on which the project depends.


Timeline: Summarize the project schedule. Include all important delivery dates, time restrictions, milestones, and the expected project duration.


Project Management: This should describe the primary functions of the project administration, including:

  • Payment disbursement
  • Processes for changes and change management
  • Specific contract terms and legal requirements
  • Project limitations


Acceptance: You must clearly outline the inspection requirements, testing and validation processes, approval process, client sign-offs and acceptance, etc.


A well-written Scope of Work document is fundamental to your project’s success. Pay special attention to detail and have several sets of eyes double-check your document.


Need help drawing up a Scope of Work document? Contact the experts at Vanguard Resources.