50 Free Statement of Work Templates | How to Write (Format)

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 of 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.

The SOW (statement of work) functions as a legal document designed to provide detailed data regarding the project requirements and 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. In addition, as it is a legal document, you must anticipate any 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 for composing for formatting them. Some project managers may use a standard fill-in-the-blank sheet, and others compose it as a narrative. Below, we’ve included a basic sample format to assist you in composing your SOW. Remember that your SOW may vary due to the type of project you oversee, but the concept remains the same.

Three Basic Types of SOW

SOW’s can be one of three basic types: Detail, performance, level of effort. Which type of SOW is used is usually the preference of the company’s project manager. Some managers’ careers depend on the exact procedure, process, and materials used, while others do not. Whichever category your project falls under, you are free to choose between one of the three. In our ongoing example of the ACME Game Studio, they would use the Performance-based SOW, as it is the vendor who shoulders the majority of the responsibility for the project.

Design/Detail Statement of Work

This SOW alerts the vendor to how you want the work done based on exact details. For instance, how many pounds of mortar will be used, quality controls involved, exact materials required. The vendor understands he/she must comply with completing the project precisely as specified by you; they cannot interpret, substitute, and do as they see fit in any way. This type is used when the client holds the majority of the responsibility, not the vendor.

Level of effort Statement of Work

This SOW is designed to be applied to any project. You are concentrating on the hours involved in completing the work and supplies needed to complete the work. For example, you’d select this SOW if you are involved in a project which pays workers by the hour. So, it would concern hours worked and materials used.

Performance-Based Statement of Work

This is for the manager who is not concerned with the details of getting the job done; just as long as it conforms with a company or government rules/regulations, you’re good. This type is used in projects where it is the vendor which bears the brunt of the responsibility. The vendor is responsible for the quality of work provided as well as the materials and process. Here, the result is more important than the process used.

Formatting Your Statement of Work

Below we have a basic format to assist you in getting started with your statement of work. No set format is acceptable for all situations. However, they will all have a section to state the goals, scope of work, period and place of performance, expenses, milestones, work requirements, acceptance 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. 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, deliverables, 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. 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 reasonable care to get it right. Whenever projects go past the 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 satisfactorily, so they meet your acceptance 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. For example, 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? Understandably, the amount of detail will vary from project to project. Still, 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 to give the vendor enough time to complete a task. If your SOW is attached to a Request for Proposal (RFP), and you do not give ample time for the tasks, 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 a 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 ensures that both you and the vendor know upfront what to expect, the terms, and the payment schedule. Usually, payment is either upon deliverable or per a specified schedule.

Acceptance criteria

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

Special requirements

While our example below does not have 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 that apply to your project.

Statement of Work Sample

Background

ACME Game and Animation Studios have recently acquired the rights to “ABC”. As a result, we need 5 additional independent contract character modelers who have a basic knowledge of rigging. Therefore, 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 five 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 ‘XYZ’ format. Specific deliverables, character milestones are listed in the ‘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. In addition, the contractor will have one meeting with their project coordinator via Skype each Monday morning, 9 a.m., to ensure no issues and the project is on track.

Period of Performance

March 3, 2018, to December 5, 2018

Work Requirements

The contract animator is responsible for one fully rigged, texture, fully mapped, animated character.

The 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 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 mapping. In addition, each character must have a basic game animation rig and be ready to animate after upload. Anything that veers away from the agreed acceptance criteria will constitute an unsuccessful attempt.

Say you are a video game company, and you need to contract independent character modelers for your game. As most independent game artists live worldwide, how could you ensure the character was modeled and rigged to your specifications and delivered on time? The answer is to write a Statement of Work between you and the animator.

Statement of Work (SOW) keeps the project in sync with the initial plan. This formal document is part of the procurement process and often accompanies an RFP or Request for Proposal. This document serves to ensure that your work does not go off track or deviate from the original, agreed-upon plans. In other words, this document is a contract between those who will perform the work and those who have hired the workers. A properly written SOW is also legal protection for both you and the vendor should any disputes arise.

If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail

From the start, let’s be clear on one significant issue regarding an SOW: A Statement of Work should never be open to interpretation. If it is, then you risk not obtaining your true vision for the project. For instance, if you do not make specific dates for milestones known to your vendor, then you could find yourself going past a vital deadline, which means catching up could mean more money spent. Also, if you are unclear on the exact materials to be used, the vendor can purchase what they like, and it might not be up to specifications. Finally, if you do not specifically dictate the process, both time and money will be lost in ‘do overs’. By not creating a solid SOW, you risk the project becoming a mess, and arguments between client and vendor will ensue.

As can be seen, an effective Statement of Work serves as a detailed plan to ensure your success. This document is designed to help you determine what will be needed for your project to succeed. Therefore, the SOW needs to be as detailed as possible following the project. A Statement of Work includes all deliverables, milestones, essential dates which a vendor must complete for their client. There is no set rule regarding what will be included in an SOW since it depends on the individual project. However, in general, your SOW should include the following elements:

  • Deliverables
  • Milestones
  • Place of performance
  • Duration of work
  • Acceptable criteria
  • Scope of work
  • Expenses

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    What Determines Success or Failure?

    Goals or objectives are at the heart of your project, so you want to ensure they are as detailed and specific as possible before the project begins. When you are not specific enough, you risk your vendor assuming that he/she is responsible for interpreting much of the SOW. Thus, the SOW functions to alert both parties to what elements contribute to a successful project and what elements contribute to a non-successful project.

    Both client and vendor must settle on what the acceptance criteria will be for a successful project. In our example, it is the responsibility of ACME Games to state the acceptable criteria clearly, so the animator is not left with a vague sense of purpose. For instance, ACME needs to state that a successful character model will have 500 polygons, and an unsuccessful model will have 500. When you alert the vendor to what you think is a successful project, you save both time and money.

    Statement of Work in Agile

    Today, more and more companies are adopting the Agile method of project management. The Agile method of writing a Statement of Work is slightly different than the standard Statement of Work. In Agile, it is recommended that maintaining excellent communication and collaboration with the client outweighs the Statement of Work contract itself. In other words, the client’s first responsibility is to create a rock-solid relationship with the vendor, then concentrate on the Statement of Work. Agile is most widely used for projects involving digital deliverables.

    Statement of Work Example

    We get you started with a basic example of a Statement of Work between our fictional game company, ACME, and an independent contractor artist.

    Statement of Work

    This Statement of Work (SOW) is between Acme Animation Studios and five different Character Animation Modelers.

    SOW Effective Date: March 3, 2018

    Scope of Work

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

    Period of Performance

    The independent contractor will perform their work at their own home or office and transfer the files when completed. In addition, the contractor will have one meeting via Skype each Monday morning, 9 a.m.

    Work Requirements

    The contract animator is responsible for one fully rigged, textured, animated character.

    Concept Art

    The 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

    Acceptance Criteria

    All models must be 500 polygons, or under

    •All models must be rigged and able to be animated immediately upon acceptance

    •All models must be in the design of the agreed-upon concept design

    •Textures optional.

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      Statement of Work VS Scope of Work

      You have your project in mind and have outlined your goals and objectives. You have completed most of your SOW and are now considering the deliverables and the actual work necessary to complete them. This section within your SOW is referred to as the ‘scope of work’. Both the statement of work and the scope of work performed ensure the success of your project. As such, it is crucial to compose them properly and know the difference between the two. Statement of Work

      The Statement of Work, or SOW, lays out the foundation of the work necessary for a particular project. The SOW makes the client and vendor aware of the responsibilities the project will entail. For instance, the SOW will tell the vendor what they will be responsible for, how to accomplish it, what materials need to be used, and the time frame for each task. This document also includes a clearly defined definition of project success. In other words, it goes over the elements that will ensure the success of the project and elements that can cause it to fail. This is all completed before work on the project starts, as both parties must agree to each term. The statement of work is seen as a legal document, which can be used in the unfortunate event that a dispute between client and contractor arises. The statement of work includes several sections, and one of those sections is the scope of work.

      Scope of Work

      You’ll usually find the scope of work as a section within the statement of work. The SOW is an in-depth document describing everything that needs to be completed to make the project a success, the scope of work states how it is to be accomplished. For instance, if ACME Game Studios wishes to hire five-character modelers to complete their project, their scope of work may include detailed information on how exactly they want the characters to be constructed and rigged. Scope of work must be taken seriously, as the work done to meet project goals must keep in step with the details described in the SOW. If a vendor reads the SOW and comes to the scope of work section and notices that the completion date of a specific task is unattainable due to the amount of work involved, they must make adjustments immediately. As such, you can see how important the scope of the work section is. If the work involved cannot be completed by the deadlines listed in the milestone section of the SOW, new arrangements must be made before work begins.

      Avoiding scope creep

      When a project encounters ‘scope creep‘, it can mean you are in for rough waters ahead. Scope creep refers to projects which have diverted off their path. When this happens, people lose sight of the vision, the objectives, the original goal of the project, and it will take extra effort and expense to bring it back on track. If the scope creeps occur, the milestones in your statement of work will not be reachable, and the entire project is put way behind schedule. For instance, if members of ACME’s team decide midstream that they wish to make alterations to the character, the contractor will have to begin again, which means the entire project can be months behind schedule. All of this translates into the project being completed late and forces it to go out of budget, as they must pay each of the five vendors’ added salaries.

      Summary

      As you can see, composing a statement of work is complex, and for many confusing. In addition, there must be no risk that any part of the project is 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 an SOW, most include the following sections: Scope of work, place of performance, period of performance, milestones (due dates), acceptance criteria, and payment schedule. You may also add a special requirements section if necessary. Whichever method you choose, make sure that every detail is included in the clear and precise language before being presented to the vendor.