How to Write and Format a Statement of Work

Your statement of work (SOW) is directly related to the success or failure of your project. Your statement of work covers the Who, What, When, Where and How of your project. This means that it is a clearly stated, in depth, detailed narrative describing the objectives for your project . Writing and formatting your perfect SOW means that both the client and the contractor will have a defined picture of how the project will be completed.

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The SOW (statement of work) functions as a legal document designed to not only provide detailed data regarding the project requirements, but also can be used if the client and vendor experience a difference of opinion. As such, it’s necessary that the SOW be written in easy to understand language, and agreed upon by both parties before work begins. As it is a legal document, you must anticipate any and all issues or events which could cause the project to fail. If written poorly, your SOW can be the source of confrontations and lawsuits.

Since every SOW (statement of work) is a unique and complex entity unto itself, It has three types, but there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to composing for formatting them. Some project managers may use a standard fill in the blank sheet, and others compose it as a narrative. That being said, below we’ve included a basic, sample format to assist you in composing your own SOW. Remember, that your SOW may vary due to the type of project you are in charge of, but the concept remains the same.

Formatting Your Statement of Work

Below we have a basic format to assist you in getting started with your statement of work. There is no set format which is acceptable for all situations. However, they will all have a section for to state the goals, scope of work, period and place of performance, expenses, milestones, work requirements, acceptable criteria and any special requirements you may have. Always remember, your SOW may vary depending on the type of project you are planning.

Background

In the background section, you are introducing the reader to the project. You can also call it an ‘Introduction’, because that is just what it is. Feel free to include the background details that led up to the project, and the objectives as well. Basically, you’re giving bidders a bit of background, so they can get a feel for the project, and become more familiar with it.

Scope of Work

This section will describe how the work will be carried out. In the Work Requirements section below, we’ll list the tasks that need to be done, milestones, deliverable , etc. In this section, we’ll outline how we intend to accomplish the project.

Period of Performance

As the name suggests, this is where you’ll state the time duration of the project. it goes without saying, that you must be clear on the time frame. State when the project will begin, and the projected completion date. When planning this portion of your SOW, take good care to get it right. Whenever projects go past deadline, that’s money out of your pocket, so give careful consideration of the tasks at hand, and ensure you give these tasks ample amount of time to be completed in a satisfactory way so they meet your accepted criteria.

Place of Performance

This section is reserved for information regarding where the contractor will perform the work. This also includes places where meetings will be held. Some vendors work on-site, and other vendors work at their own office or home. Alert the vendor if you are thinking of having meetings on location, conference call, or Skype, and the time and day for each meeting.

Work Requirements

This is where you list the deliverables which must be completed for your project. For instance, what tasks need to be performed to complete the project? It’s understandable that the amount of detail will vary from project to project, but the overall rule is to include as much detail as you possibly can, so nothing is left up to interpretation. The vendor should have a clearly defined idea of what is required of them.

Milestones

Milestones are also known as deadline dates. In the Work Requirements section above, we listed the tasks which needed to be done. In this section, we give the dates for each task. Again, remember to carefully consider the dates, so you give the vendor enough time to complete a task. If your SOW attached to a Request for Proposal (RFP), and you do not give ample enough time for the tasks, then you risk losing good contractors, as they’ll realize they won’t be able to fulfill the agreement.

Expenses

In this section, clearly define the costs entailed to complete your project. Here, you’ll include items such as hourly wages to be paid, or are you going with fixed fee, travel expenses if any, materials, and supplies. Next, include the terms of payment, as well as a payment schedule. Including all aspects of project price in your Expenses section ensure that both you and the vendor know up front what to expect, the terms, and schedule of payment. Usually, payment is either upon deliverable, or per a specified schedule.

Acceptance Criteria

It is the clients responsibility to outline the exact criteria which make each task acceptable for the success of the project. Again, this must be as exact as possible, and not left to interpretation by the vendor. Both the client and vendor must agree to the criteria, and clear up any issues before an agreement is made. It is in this section where you will clarify what constitutes a successful project and unsuccessful project.

Special Requirements

While our example below does not have a special requirements, many other projects do. These are requirements that do not fit the format or template of a standard SOW. These requirements can include anything from provisions for additional security, any restrictions, rules or considerations which apply to your project.

Statement of Work Sample Template

Background

ACME Game and Animation Studios has recently acquired the rights to “ABC”. As a result, we are in need of 5 additional, independent contract character modelers who have a basic knowledge of rigging. This Statement of Work (SOW) is between Acme Animation Studios and 5 Character Animation Modelers, Effective March 3, 2018.

Scope of Work

The Scope of Work for Acme Animation Studio Project ‘J’ involves creating five friendly, fuzzy character companions for our upcoming game, “ABC”. Each of the 5 modelers is assigned a specific character, and each stage of character development is to be approved by our project manager before continuing. All files must be submitted before due dates listed in the ‘Milestone’ section of this document, and in ‘XYZ’ format. Specific deliverables, character milestones are listed in ‘Work Requirements’ section of this SOW.

Place of Performance

The independent contractor will perform their work at their own home or office, and transfer the files when completed. The contractor will have one meeting with their project coordinator via Skype each Monday morning, 9 a.m. to ensure there are no issues, and the project is on track.

Period of Performance

March 3, 2018 to December 5, 2018

Work Requirements

  • Contract animator is responsible for one fully rigged, texture, fully mapped, animated character.
  • Animator will present initial character art for examination and approval.
  • Modeling Phase
  • Once approved, the character is to be modeled in 3 phases. Low poly count.
  • Model to be created to exact specifications to size, poly count and texture
  • Model to be rigged
  • Model to be animated

Milestones

  • Concept art: April 3, 2018
  • Low Poly Phase: May 15, 2018
  • Basic Sculpt: June 30, 2018
  • Rigging: August 1, 2018
  • Animation Test Reel: September 3, 2018

Expenses

Vendors will be paid a total of $1,200.00 for their individual model and sculpt, payable upon acceptance of the finished piece.

Acceptance Criteria

For a complete and successful project, all characters must meet the requirements set forth by our senior animation/modeling staff. They must resemble the agreed upon concept art in form, function and texture mapped. Each character must have a basic game animation rig, and ready to animate after upload. Anything that veers away from the agreed acceptance criteria, will constitute an unsuccessful attempt.

Summary

As you can see, composing a statement of work is complex, and for many confusing. There must be no risk that any part of the project be open to interpretation by the vendor. As such, you must keep the SOW tight, concise, defined and specific. There are no set formats, you may use a fill in the blank form you create in excel, or you can treat it as a narrative of sorts. Either way, the format is not as important as the details in the SOW, as this is a legal document and can be used in a court of law. Though there is no set way to compose a SOW, most include the following sections: Scope of work, place of performance, period of performance, milestones (due dates), acceptance criteria, and pay schedule. You may also add a special requirements section if necessary. Whichever method you choose, make most certain that every detail is included in clear and precise language, before presented to the vendor.

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