The scope of work document helps you to avoid guesswork and miscommunications in a project and keep it on track when collaborating with external clients.
Today’s businesses collaborate with multiple parties before completing a project. For such collaborative work, businesses need a professional document. So they can refer to it later if the collaborating external parties do not deliver the project deliverables according to the agreed specifications.
One such business document is the scope of work. You need it whenever you take up projects from someone else or collaborate with third parties.
Continue reading to learn to write a scope of work document in a clear and easy-to-understand language. You will also explore some online resources that offer different types of the scope of work templates and form-based builders.
Scope of work, aka SoW document, is a paper where detailed information about the groundwork of a project is described. Many people also consider it a written contract between themselves and other stakeholders of a project, including agents, service providers, and subcontractors.
The document usually explains how each task or phase of a project is completed, the deliverables, expected outcomes, payment schedules, and the process. Using this, freelancers or teams can clearly and concisely mention what the stakeholders can expect from a project.
In case of misunderstanding, this works as the go-to option for all parties. From it, everyone knows what they need to do to make the project work for both. SoW document is also a fantastic way of effective communication—lack of which can cause a project and client-stakeholder relationship to fail.
Depending on your project type and industry, the document will vary. However, these are the common elements you need to include in almost all SoW for transparency.
In every SoW document, you must include the basic details of a project so that the readers can immediately realize what it is all about. Include the project name, author’s name, client name, date, and other crucial information.
Adding a brief project description in the SoW always helps. Make sure to include the project background, objectives, problem statement, and people involved, but concisely.
Description of Goods & Services as a List
Now, come to the most crucial part of this document— the goods and services you will deliver or perform within the project framework.
It’s better to break down the deliverables into smaller chunks and list them as tasks and subtasks. Whether a freelancing project or a team project, present the tasks in a table along with projected completion dates and contact people.
It might not be necessary for all SoW documents, but mentioning what the client will get once the project ends is beneficial. Thus, they will know what to expect from you and your team.
Time plays a crucial role in all projects; hence, you must include the completion time. Mention when you will start working on it and when you will finish it. Also, do not forget to mention any milestones or achievements you wish to accomplish along the way.
An Out-of-Scope List
Another optional component of the SoW document will take it to the next level. In this section, include anything you will not include in your project but the clients might expect you to do so. This will make things clear and help you avoid any misunderstanding.
Protocol for Changes
As you create SoW before starting on a project, necessities might arise later to make changes to the project scope you mention in this document. For this reason, you need to add a protocol through which you will be able to make changes to it.
All paid projects should contain a section where you have to describe the project expense and payment modes. If the project needs you to invest money for goods, labor, infrastructure, or any other overhead cost, include it in this section. Also, mention payment schedules, milestone payments, and other details in your SoW document.
Terms and Conditions
You must include all the terms and conditions of the project in this section. Here, you can also explain the terms used in the SoW and any conditions you have not clarified earlier.
Finally, add this section which will turn this into a legally enforceable contract. Here, include the signature of the client and offer space for the signatures of other stakeholders.
Any project commissioning deal between a client and an outsourcing party should happen through an SoW document. Find below some real-world use cases of the scope of word documents and their templates:
#1. Building Architectural Works
Since architectural work for business and personal buildings incurs many expenses, risks, and time investments, you must use a standard SoW document that most building construction firms use.
The template below is a standardized SoW document that includes all the vital components like Project Definition, Client and Project Information, Architect Selection Process, Timeline of the Project, Approval Requirements, General Objective, etc.
Various home decor agencies and contractors use this SoW document to finalize individual or business project renovation deals. You can use a template if you are a new entrant in this field and have no idea how to create one.
The following SoW document template has been drafted according to the needs of the US general contractors for the renovation of commercial or residential buildings. It contains all the “in-scope” content for renovation works. However, you can add more or delete some according to the project you are working on.
#3. Residential and Commercial Landscaping Projects
Landscaping projects include a lot of wet work as well as professional show-offs. The SoW document is the chance for you to show off your creativity and design tastes so that the commissioning party gets another solid point to hire your agency.
This landscaping work SoW template consists of image blocks where you can place a brand logo, brand color palettes, icons, and work examples. There is an extra blank page that you can use to write more content. For each page, you can change the landscaping image example.
Helping businesses with their social media ads and marketing campaigns is lucrative. Various freelancers and digital marketing agencies are into this. If you are also in this domain, then an SoW document can help you in the long run.
Find below an organized, crisp, professional social media marketing SoW template that agencies and freelancers can use commercially. It contains the must-have SoW document components like client details, project descriptions, campaign details, key deliverables, campaign tables, etc.
An SoW document is highly necessary for contractual works that you might get from federal, state, municipalities, and counties. Also, you will find government contract scope of work documents to be the most elaborate in content and scopes.
Here you find an example of the SoW template for government contractual projects. It lets you add your agency logo and other SoW content like Organization Name, Project Name, Author Details, Project Background and Objectives, Project Description, Timetable/Schedule, Vendor Cost Proposal, etc.
You may need to add or exclude content depending on the government contract project you are interested in. Go through the project requirement for an SoW document format before submitting the final draft.
Include explicit details regarding the job, payment, resources, deadline, milestones, etc.
Add visual elements like pictures of the end product or service you are expecting, graphs, charts, tables, etc.
If the document contains business jargon, ensure you and the signing party define those before commissioning the project.
If it is a long-term project with many complex deliverables that depend on the time, include a schedule of review of the SoW at monthly or quarterly intervals.
The document should also contain definitions of project success. When you complete the project, the client can easily review the success definitions, and there will not be any scope for unnecessary reviews and reworks.
Keep the SoW crisp, concise, and brief. Do not use unnecessary fillers to lengthen the document.
You must draft the document by collaborating with external and internal stakeholders. For example, internal stakeholders will be your project team, and external stakeholders will be the client and third-party vendors.
Mention closely related services that do not come with the project, like hosting after the website development, app publishing after the app development, etc., unless the client pays for the service.
Now, let’s jump into don’ts to write a scope of work (SOW) document.
Don’ts to Write SOW Document ❌
Do not hesitate to use SoW document templates and examples of a relevant project when creating yours. It will save time and effort.
Do not include vague and ambiguous content in the document that the subcontractors, vendors, and other third parties can use to their advantage and cause you monetary damages.
Do not rush the drafting process of a scope of work document. Sit with your collaborators and meticulously plan the document by including all the definitions, milestones, limitations, budget, etc.
Do not forget to clearly outline deliverables in a project that are “out of scope” and “in scope.”
If the project calls for certain professional training durations, do not forget to include that in the document along with the costs.
Some SoW documents lack the step-by-step workflow on how the client should audit the deliverables so that they can declare project completion. Ensure you do not make this error. Include pre-approved steps that define the project as complete according to commissioning terms.
Long-term projects may require diversions, scope alterations, deliverable changes, etc. Do not forget to mention such possibilities in the SoW document.
Further, check out the free template resources for SOW documents.
Free Template Resources
On Smartsheet, users can find a variety of free scope of work templates for personal use. Here, templates are available in Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Google Docs, and Google Sheets.
Digital marketing, commercial construction, software development, interior designing, web designing, and remodeling are some popular industries where you can use these templates of this platform.
Template Archive is another website where you can find free resources for creating the scope of work documents. The templates are of various designs and formats so you can choose according to your brand or project. Moreover, you can easily download and edit these to come up with a unique SoW document.
FormSwift lets you create a scope of work document for your next project proposal in two ways. First, download a generic template in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF from its website. Then, you can fill in the blanks to create a custom SoW document.
Secondly, you can go through a guided SoW builder where you type in the relevant details, and the builder keeps creating the document. It takes about 20 minutes to create the document online on this platform.
So, now you know the scope of work document, its components, and dos and don’ts for creating a professional SoW document that your client will love. Furthermore, you have also discovered some use cases where you can use SoW documents.
To help you further, the article has outlined some online scope of work document builders and template libraries. You can create an SoW document online using any of the above platforms, either following a step-by-step guide or downloading and customizing a template.
I am a technical and creative content writer with 10+ years of experience in the relevant industry. My degrees in English and Sociology, coupled with working experience in software development companies, help me understand how technology… read more
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