When companies are facing a big, ambitious project but don’t have the necessary experience, knowledge or manpower, they often opt to outsource the project. They are unburdened and can sleep easy, while you and your team get to tackle another interesting project: win-win!

When outsourcing a project, all the agreements have to be clear for both parties. You need a document to which you can refer if something isn’t clear, if something goes wrong or if the client is satisfied with the (intermediate) results.

Our advice? Create a Statement Of Work (SOW)! An SOW is a detailed document that defines the deadlines, rates and agreed upon results of the project. In other words: a work declaration in which is described what falls within the scope of the project, and what doesn’t fall within the scope of the project.

how do you get started on an SOW?

An SOW sounds great! We want that too. But how do you get started, and what does it have to contain?

You start writing your SOW the moment that you first get in touch with your client, so it’s important to ask the right questions. You need a clear understanding of the client’s goals from the very beginning. Ask questions like:

  • what will you get out of the project? 
  • what results do are you expecting?
  • what’s your budget?
  • what deadlines are you envisioning?
A man and a woman talking.
A man and a woman talking.

create your SOW in 10 steps.

Which topics should be included in your SOW, and how do you start writing this document? Follow these steps, and you’ll have a detailed Statement Of Work in no time!

Keep in mind, however, that each SOW is different. The order of the topics can change, and for your specific SOW you may need to leave out or even add certain sections.

1. introduction.

The very first part of your Statement Of Work should be the introduction. Describe the project, name the most important stakeholders and define the work that has to be done.

Write down clearly that the SOW is a formal contract between both parties.

2. vision.

What is the goal of the project? What’s the vision of the client, and does your team agree with it? Define the client’s vision to set your goals, but also to manage expectations. Can everything be done in the timeframe the client made? Is the ultimate goal realistic? Will the project actually solve the client’s problem, or is it just a temporary fix?

3. requirements.

What are the project’s basic requirements? What solutions does it have to bring forth, and how? The requirements have to be clear for both parties, and they have to be manageable.

Tip: list all requirements clearly in your SOW. You can use this list afterwards to determine the process, divide the tasks …

4. scope.

In this step, you’ll use the previously defined vision and requirements to determine the project’s scope.

What is within the scope of the project, and what isn’t? You’ll use this step later on to determine the milestones and intermediate results, so it’s important to put enough time and effort into it!

5. deadline.

Don’t be fooled, this step is harder than it looks! You need to define a feasible deadline, and that can be tricky. The client probably wants it all done as soon as possible - yesterday rather than today. But you have to protect your team against unfeasible goals, and you have to manage the client’s expectations.

Estimating how much time a certain task will take, and how much capacity you’ll have at all times can be difficult. But you’ll get the hang of it with some practice!

6. allocating the available resources.

And we’re not just talking about the client’s budget or other physical resources here. Your team’s knowledge, the capability to carry out certain tasks and the available capacity are important too.

It’s important to determine what resources you have for a specific project, and to allocate them correctly. If you trust the right task to the right person, and estimate the time they’ll need correctly, you’ll finish the project with time to spare. And this increases the odds of the client re-hiring you!

7. planning.

In this step, you’ll come up with a timeline for the project. Keep the intermediate deadlines and milestones in mind. It’s a good idea to go over this timeline with your client, and to keep them posted on your team’s progress.

8. payment conditions.

What’s the exact rate? When and how will the payment be made? Add the correct account- and VAT number, as wel as other specific info that’s important for the payment.

9. special requirements.

Does the client have any other specific requirements that were not added to the vision, requirements or scope? Define them here. Think for example of: security measures, who has access to certain databases …

10. signatures.

Did you proofread the previous 9 steps and are you certain no information is missing? Then it’s time to sign the SOW!

Et voilà: you are now the proud owner of a document that serves as an action plan and a contract at the same time.

why do you need an SOW?

A well-defined Statement Of Work is the first step towards delivering a project on time, within the scope and within budget.

What’s more, the SOW serves as reference material throughout the project. The document defines the central goal of the project and the work that has to be finished at the end. All this is agreed upon at the signature of the SOW. A good Statement Of Work serves to protect you as well as your client.

Do you still have questions after reading this article? Don’t hesitate to contact us! If you’re working on an engineering project, you can send your questions to: frederik.verstraete@ausy.be. For questions about IT projects, please contact mathias.henderick@ausy.be.

curious to know what an SOW looks like?

download our template