How to Create a Statement of Work in Project Management

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Jul 11, 2022

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Take any of the industries and there will be one thing that will remain common when the projects are going on- paperwork. There is a lot of paperwork required and it helps in making sure that things are going in the right direction. Today we are going to discuss one such tool in project management which is used by project managers in their organizations to make sure that everything that goes in the project is very well documented. Although there are various documents that are needed for the project, sow in project management has its own significance. SOW stands for Statement of Work or Scope of work and in this article, we are going to throw some light on how this works for the project and how the project manager can write one for their projects. Later, we are going to discover steps that can be used to write a perfect SOW for the team. You will also learn all about various courses for PMP Certification online and how it can polish your acumen.

What is a Statement of Work?

We are aware that there are various things that are part of the project and they should be clearly aligned with the whole team along with the vendors. The sow full form in project management is Statement of Work and it is a well-written document that helps to know the scope of the work to be done in the project. It stores all the information related to the deliverables, costs, resources, and timeline which is needed to be followed to complete the whole project and tasks. There could be external parties involved in many projects which will work with the internal team of the project, so the need of having SOW increases more than ever. There are various metrics used to measure the success of the project as per the stakeholder’s requirement, and those metrics are clearly mentioned in SOW to avoid any dispute that may arise later related to the deliverables, costing or budgeting, and other things.

A sow is usually created in the project initiation phase and changes can be made if needed in the later phases. It serves as the foundation for all the upcoming stages in the project. There are three types of SoWs in the project:

  • Performance-Based
  • Design
  • Level of Effort


This kind of SOW is needed when the client is in need of the result of the service rather than actually defining the process needed for that. This performance-based sow is a good option for that case. Here the sow only indicates the results that the client is looking for. The project team is responsible for the means and other processes that are needed to incorporate into the team to achieve those results.


As the name suggests, this is opposite to the performance-based SOW. Here the emphasis is given to the process involved to achieve the result as per the client’s needs. The process needed to get the high-end product in the end is a high concern. This kind of sow is particularly used in manufacturing industries. In this, the smallest details like the material, the time, and the resources are taken care of so that the whole process is under observation.

Level of Effort

In this type of SOW, the tasks are mentioned that are needed to be completed in the project along with the time needed to complete those tasks. The level of effort required for those tasks is clearly mentioned in that document. Using this, the client will have a deeper understanding of how the process is going on and what the approach followed to gain the end results.

Why SOW is needed in the project?

Now you might wonder why there is a need for a statement of work in project management. Well, there are certain benefits that the project will have when it has a well-defined SoW, and those are:

1) Keeps the expectations in check

These are the documents that are used to record all the timelines, dates, scopes, and resources that are needed for the project. This document helps in facilitating better communication with the internal as well external teams that helps in making the process smoother. There are various processes and materials that are needed in the project and putting together all the agreements is very much needed. This helps in keeping any breaches and disputes in check.

2) Acts as a foundation

When the whole team is working towards the shared goal, a well-defined document is needed which helps in making sure that the timelines and other deliverables are clearly mentioned and there is no confusion later. Using this document, the project manager can work around the tasks needed to complete the project and distribute them among the team. The details provided in SOW helps the team to know what is the main purpose of those tasks and what the contract says for the project.

3) Follows the scope

There are many cases where there are requests for addition during the mid-production of the project. But when the scope and deliverables are clearly defined, this scope creep can be avoided. These additional changes might hamper the project and this will impact the success of the project, so the SOW helps in mitigating those risks and give a clear path for the team to work upon.

What are the key elements of a successful SOW?

There are many things that go into the project SOW, but to make sure that you are writing the best for your team, below are some of the key elements that are needed in the sow in project management.

1) Objectives

This is obviously the most important part of the SOW. It is the place where the big questions are answered. The questions are- why the project is initiated in the first place, what is the purpose and mission of the given project and what are the parties involved in this project. These questions are the foundation of all the work that will be done by the team in the project.

2) Defined scope

Scope plays a crucial role in any project and when the scope of the project is very well defined, the team will be able to give their best in that direction. In this section, it is mentioned what work needs to be done and in what time frame. There is a discussion about the general steps that are needed to be taken to take the project to the end and the process details are mentioned specifically in this section.

3) Place and time

It could be a possibility that the project is global or that the vendors and parties involved belong to different parts of the world and time zone. When a situation like this arises, this section is needed that clearly mentions where the project will be executed and at what time. When defined earlier in the project, this will eliminate the chance of confusion.

4) Milestones and tasks

Milestones are needed when the project is long and it has various complex processes. The milestones serve the purpose of little success that can be used to measure the progress of the project from time to time. The project is broken down into various milestones and these milestones help in predicting the end date of the project. Same as milestones are very crucial, tasks also play a major role in the project. These are the well-defined activities in SOW that are needed to complete the project. These steps are mentioned in SOW. They are very thorough when written in sow and it is made sure that no detail or step is missed when tasks are defined so that team is not missing out on anything when completing those tasks.

5) Schedule and deliverables

The schedule which is defined in SWO is the project timeline that will show the timeline for the completion of various milestones, and tasks in the lifecycle of the given project. They are needed to make sure that the team is on time and can deliver the promised product on time. Along with this, having a clear mention of the type of product, their quality is also provided in SOW. The documents will specify what is needed, how it is needed, and when it is due in the document.

6) Testing

This section is needed in some of the projects when it is needed to show the deliverables are needed to be evaluated. This section will mention the steps that are needed to be executed if testing is needed for the end product.

7) Outcomes, conditions, and terms

In this section, the team can define what is expected from the team and what the definition of success is from the client’s side. Also, in this section, you can mention if there are any terms and conditions in the projects. This section can have other parts of the projects which do not seem to fit in other sections of the SOW.

8) Closure

This part is the end of the sow document and here the final duties are being defined. It will be mentioned how the deliverables are going to be accepted, who is going to review and how it is signed off. This section will make sure that all the things are signed and closed as well as archived.

How to write a perfect SOW?

Writing the SOW for the project can be as meticulous as it can be. So, if you want to have a perfect sow for your project, then you can follow the below-mentioned steps.

1) Introduction and vision

Here you are going to introduce the project and it is the most important part of the SOW. Not only you are going to include what is the need of the project, but you are also going to include whom all are going to the part of this project. The vision of the project is needed to be defined properly as will ensure that the team is working on the right path and the goals are defined in the right way. This will meet the expectation of the client and the project will have a smooth start with a clear vision and goals. Make sure that everyone understands the nature of the deliverables and has an agreement.

2) Define requirements and scope

The team needs to know what is needed from them during the project lifecycle. Having the requirements of the projects clearly defined will make sure that everyone involved in the project is on the same page. The requirements should be considered by the client and should match the vision of the project. Then having the scope defined for the project comes as a crucial step. What is covered in the scope plays a major role. This will keep the efforts in check whenever things are going out of scope, it can be pointed out to avoid scope creep.

3) Setting Deadlines

Having the start and end date of the project might seem an easy task but if you wish to have a date that is reliable then you have to consider all the things beforehand. Setting timelines is very crucial as it will impact the health of the project as well as the quality of the project. It is difficult to put an estimate on all the things but it is needed to keep the progress in check for the project. This is based on resource allocation, budgeting, and time. So, make sure that you are considering these factors and set a realistic date for the project.

4) Resource allocation

It is a fact that the project is not only going to need the resources, it needs the right resources. Resource planning can make or break the project. So, make sure that you are having the right choice of resources for your team so that project is completed on time with quality.

5) Include the terms and requirements

This section will have payment terms, other requirements from the clients, and other conditions clearly mention in the SOW for project management. Here all the things are specifically mentioned so that there is no issue in the end. You can consider sitting with the clients for this part and try to get things right.

6) Signing

After all the things are thoroughly defined, the document is given the revisions, and then it is accepted and signed before the work begins.

Now the document which is signed works as a formal document as well as the guide which is needed in the various processes of the project.

Key Takeaways

Having a well-defined project SOW will help the team to make sure that the project is executed and delivered in the right way. This can be one of the stepping stones for the team. On this page, we have learned sow meaning in project management and what are the types of sows needed in the project. Later we have covered why it plays a crucial role in the project and how one can create their sow for the success of the project. This reference material is very useful when there are conflicts in the project and the success of the project is at risk. This document can be used as a rescue material and resolve any issues. Also, the full transparency between the included parties will help in having a successful project which can be delivered on time.

So, if you want to have a successful career in project management then the best way is to complete the PMP Training. There are various places where you can go for the training, but if you are looking for the best place then there is nothing better than the platform of StarAgile. Here you are going to have a variety of courses that are highly affiliated. The professionals here are highly trained that can help you understand the concepts in a deep manner and helps you acquire practical knowledge as well. You can use your skills you get the best jobs for yourself and set a good career path for yourself.

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