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Statement of Work: The Blueprint of Your Project
By Paul A. Weber

What is a Statement of Work

The Statement of Work is the blueprint of your project. Like any blueprint, the SOW, spells out some very specific information about the who, what, when, where, and how of your project.

Why the SOW Is Important

As the blueprint of your project, the Statement Of Work lays out the project specifics. A well constructed SOW will point out the following information about the project in very specific and pointed terminology, so to avoid any confusion in regards to the project. Below are specific topics which should be included in your SOW.

  • Purpose: What is the purpose of the project. Why is the venture being undertaken.
  • Scope: What are the parameters of the project, in other words, what will be included in the project. Also, it’s very important to specify what is not included in the project. The scope statement should be very specific, and very detailed, because the information will be the basis of project foundation, upon which all other project areas will use as a guide for planning.

  • Deliverables: Specify exactly what your project is supposed to deliver. If your project is supposed to deliver a widget made of high tempered stainless steel, quarter inch thick, one inch tall, covered by layer of twenty four carat gold, then specify this in the project deliverables section of the statement of work.

  • Quality: Specify project quality standards. Be very specific on this point.

  • Resources: This includes material and human resources needed for your project.

  • Cost and schedule: Important, Do not skip or rush through this step. Improper cost and schedule estimates can destroy your project. Some great tools to help address the cost and schedule requirements is the PERT formula, Work Breakdown Structure, and a Gantt chart.

  • Success: Define exactly what constitutes project success.

  • Constraints: Define issues that will or could constrain the project. If weather is a constraint, then specify the weather as a constraint, such as during a construction project. If it’s a limited budget, then specify the budget and why it’s a constraint.

  • Assumptions: List project assumptions, such as a supply being delivered on time.

  • Risks: List risks that could affect your project. Hold a team meeting and gather input from team members, and make a contingency plan of action for each risk you view as a realistic threat to your project.

  • Budget: Provide the overall budget, which if desired can be broken into smaller parts containing a specific budget for each project phase. Breaking the budget into smaller pieces will give people a better picture of the amount of money they have for their part of the project.

How to construct a Statement Of Work

When putting the project statement together, be sure to address the areas, with the acronym SMART in mind, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Trackable. There are a lot of free templates available via downloads, but at the end of the day, a Statement of Work can be constructed using Microsoft Word. There is no order of precedence by which the project statement is listed, but the manner listed above would be advised. The main point is to have the project specifics in your Statement of Work. Additionally, I would suggest distributing a copy of the statement to all team members, and project stakeholders to ensure everyone involved has the same information concerning project specifics.

Paul A. Weber, PMP, MBA-PM is a Project Manager with over 12 years in the Aerospace industry within the Department of Defense.

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