Project Management

The First Three Sections Required for a Great SOW (Statement of Work)

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In this article, you’ll discover what belongs in each section of your SOW (statement of work). Within each section, short example text is provided to demonstrate what a successful SOW looks like.


Section #1: Introduction

  • Who is involved and what is your project all about?
  • Describe your project background, the client’s current state of business and specific objectives for this project in moving the client forward, as well as any relevant project history.
  • PRO TIP: Avoid pronouns such as “they,” “we,” “you,” “us,” and “it” in favor of legal names (e.g., “Client”)
Example Introduction:

Acme Agency, LLP, is pleased to provide this Statement of Work (“SOW”) confirming that it will continue to assist Solutions Oriented Systems, Inc., (“Client”) with its Transformation Project (“Project”). Having worked with you on the first two phases of this project from business case development through implementation planning, we now look forward to assisting you with Phase III - Implementation.

As you know, Acme has been working with Client since Month, Year, on Project. Acme has supported Client on multiple activities related to the Project, including technical planning. In addition to supporting the technical planning, Acme has directly supported areas of the Project high-level financial management design. Based on our participation to date, Acme believes it is uniquely qualified to support the implementation program going forward. Acme personnel have become intimately familiar with Project activities, goals, benefits, processes, and have developed good working relationships with Client team.

Section #2: Objectives

  • What does this project achieve?
  • Your objectives should focus on the intended results of this project. Do not include objectives that the project isn’t able to impact. Aiming for three objectives is common, when possible.
  • PRO TIP: Avoid describing “goals.” Goals are intangible and subject to change. Objectives are clearly defined and measureable.
Example Objectives:

Acme understands that Client has two primary business objectives directly supported by this project. The first is consolidation of data center servers used by all sectors of Client. Cost savings due to improved operations for Client are estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars. In addition, as hardware is refreshed over the next several years, capital savings in the tens of millions of dollars are estimated. The second objective is to make a major improvement in the business platform for “going to market” for new Client business.

Section #3: Scope and Responsibilities 

  • What are vendor/client roles?
  • Your scope defines all activities expected from the vendor and client. Specify whose responsibility each activity is, as well as if the vendor or client is primarily or jointly responsible. Be clear on approval processes. Define all acronyms in this section and use them consistently throughout.
  • PRO TIP: Refer to this section if your client wishes to change something during the project.
Example Scope and Responsibilities

Client and Acme have agreed, in principle, to work together through the pilot of Project, which Client’s schedule indicates will be in Month, Year. This SOW confirms that Acme will provide Services to assist Client in launching the implementation in order to initiate the process of realizing the benefits outlined above. During this launch SOW, each company will contribute personnel to an overall blended project team (the “Project Team”). The Project Team plans to begin the Project by executing a number of work streams. Acme will not participate in all work streams under this SOW. For those work streams in which Acme is not participating, Acme will have no responsibility for deliverables associated with that work stream.

Acme will work directly with Firstname Lastname of Client, on this project, and receive direction from Firstname.

Overall Program/Management Work Streams:

1. Program Management Office
- Organize and establish an operational program office which will be used for Project execution. The design and execution of the PMO will be capable of being leveraged for use across business with third parties.
- Customize, as appropriate, Client’s existing PMO tools/ templates for Project. 
- Begin structured and standardized PMO tracking and reporting (e.g., financials, program status and risks).

2. Governance
- Facilitate implementation of new governance mechanisms to support new IT shared services model

To learn about the next six sections that should be included in your next SOW, download "The Definitive SOW Template and Writing Guide for Project Managers" 

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