10 Steps To Writing an Awesome Scope of Work Document
A Scope of work document impacts workflow by a huge margin. Here’s what you need to do if you’re just getting started as a Project Manager.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Company cultures always differ from one another.
They may have some work processes in common, but the way they approach various projects and the way they perform their development strategies is a different story.
When that’s the case, people sometimes don’t know what to expect within and from the development process. If we take it to the next level where remote workers are in question, it gets a little hectic to illustrate the entire workflow process to them.
Likewise, stakeholders and customers are an entirely different breed. To make them feel confident and optimistic, the scope of work document needs to be set in place. It outlines your development process to internal and external parties.
If you are just about getting your feet wet as a project manager in the industry, here’s what you need to know about SoW Doc beforehand.
What Is the Scope of Work Document?
The Scope of the work document is the cliff notes about a project’s development process.
These documents contain everything related to the project, for example, Delivery schedules, the terms, and conditions of the project, all the different work details related to the project, and all the different deliverables that are expected from the project.
You have to think about the scope of work document as a map to guide you through the different project development steps and all the other elements related to the project, to ensure that you have a complete understanding of the project variables and the development process.
If you are working as a project manager in your company, you have to develop or have developed a detailed SOW document to make sure that every member of the team, every member of the company, and the stakeholders connected to the project knows about the expectations from the project.
This document will also help you in making sure that everyone knows what they have to do and what they have to develop via the development process.
The following are the different sections that must be included in an SOW document. Let’s take a look at them.
1. Terms and Conditions
This section contains all of the different requirements, conditions, and terms that have not been made clear to the stakeholders connected to the project.
2. Budget Info
In this section, the financial information about the project is described for the stakeholders. Every single dime that is going to be spent in the development process and all of the different elements connected to the project is described in this section of the SOW document.
3. Individual Tasks
This is where all the different tasks related to every single member of the development team are discussed. The deliverables whether they are being worked on in a sprint or throughout the development process, are discussed in this section.
4. Project Objectives
This is one of the most important elements of the SOW document.
Every single brainstorming session, problem statement, and thought associated with the project is discussed in this session to make sure that everyone knows about the issue the company is facing and how this project is going to solve the issue.
5. Expected Results
In this section, all the different goals and deliverables are discussed. These include all of the problem statements that are connected to the project like the increase in sales, different conversion metrics, and the expected increase in overall traffic.
All of the different objectives that are prompting the company to develop the project are discussed in this section.
In this section, we dive into the detailed analysis of every little element and objective associated with the project. Does the client want a workable mockup of the website that you are developing or an actual finished product? Things like that.
Milestones are the definite dates and events that mark the different completion stages of the processes included in the development process. In this section, the milestones and the deadline-oriented deliverables are discussed.
We all know that a project proposal is necessary when we want the go-ahead from the internal or familiar stakeholders about some projects that we are trying to develop. But when it comes to working with external entities, the scope of work document is necessary which informs them about everything.
Let’s not discuss the 10 best steps to create a perfect SOW document.
10 Steps to Write a Perfect Scope of Work Document
The following are the steps that are taken to create an effective SOW Document.
- Project Overview
- Project Objectives
- List of Tasks
- Project Schedule
- Adoption Process
- Project Management
- Completion Criteria and Sign-off
Let’s discuss these steps in detail.
At the very start of the project, the ideas and brainstorming sessions about the project are transcribed, and all the details about the project or the service being delivered are ironed out.
These can include all of the different details about the work that is being done by the product and the different parties that are going to be involved in the development process of the project.
This section also contains the formal agreements and details that have to be ironed out at the start of the project.
- Contracts are discussed in this stage which is the mutually agreed upon terms between the many different entities related to the project
- The standings offer to acquire the resources that the company might need in completing the development process are also discussed in this section
2. Project Overview
In this section, the details about why this project is being done and what the ultimate course of development is going to be. These little details are reviewed and made sure that everything matches the purpose of the project to be developed in the first place.
Just make sure that the wording that you use in this section is easy to understand because it is the first step to making external connections realize what we are on about and what do we intend to do with the product/service.
As a high ranking Salesforce employee shares:
“If a coworker or family member cannot explain what the scope is and what success looks like then this foundational section needs to be updated until it is crystal clear.”
3. Project Objectives
In this section, we discuss all of the different objectives that the company wants to accomplish through the project.
Whether they want to solve an organizational paradigm issue that hasn’t been solved yet or are they trying to find a solution for an issue that has been looked at before, but the solution didn’t agree with the general population of the professional paradigm.
4. Scope of Work
The next item on the list is the SOW that describes all of the work activities that is needed to be done to make the project a definite success.
When you design this section of the document, just make sure that the section doesn’t dive into specifics as the details are going to be discussed in the next section. Try to design this section either as a simple explanation that gives an overview of all of the work or you can design this as a bullet list.
Most of the scope of work sections of the projects that are developed normally is a simple explanation of things but there are times when the project requires that the SOW section of the document must contain technical details about the software and hardware that is to be used in the development process.
5. List of Tasks
The next section is as the name describes it, a souped-up list of all of the different tasks, activities, and processes that need to be worked on, to make sure that the process is a definite success, and nothing is left undone.
One thing that you can do in this section is to make sure that all of the different items listed in this section are easily readable and understandable. This will ensure that the reader understands all of the different things that you have listed in the section and gets to work as soon as possible.
You need to remember that these tasks are not the deliverables associated with the project. These are the actions that you are going to perform, to develop all of the deliverables on time, and make the project development process a success.
6. Project Schedule
The schedule of any project in your roster is very important, as everyone should be informed about the start and end dates of the deliverables that need to be developed at the required time. But when you develop this section of the scope of work document, you go the extra mile.
This section of the document includes all of the details about the dates and the related tasks that are going to be finished on those dates.
You are also going to mention all of the different entities that are associated with the development process so that everyone will know who is going to work on what and when.
Finally, we are getting down to business. Project deliverables are the exact results that the company requires from the development team.
The deliverables section of the scope of the project document is where you have to list all of the different results that you require from your development team at the end of a particular sprint or after the whole development process.
Deliverables can include things like:
- A fully operational prototype of the project or the website that your team is developing
- Tracking metrics of all the different entities related to the project
- Page templates of all of the different websites that you are trying to develop
8. Adoption Process
Adoption processes are generally not included in most of the SOW documents that are being developed for the projects, but it’s a really important section that is supposed to be added to every SOW document.
What the adoption process describes the changes that are bound to happen due to the development of the project in question.
These changes can be the layout changes of a website that the company is trying to revamp, or they can be the new features that are brought into an already existing application and how these features came to be.
9. Project Management
The next step is the application of project management principles on the whole shebang. With most of the details related to the project connected to their respective elements, you are just missing the management principles that will get that show on the road.
The major project management principles that are included in the scope of the work document are as follows:
In this section, different team members are connected to the tasks that they have to develop in the project development process. You as a project manager, need to assign these duties and handle the coaching duties that are required to guide your team in the right direction.
In this section, different financial decisions are highlighted. On that note, different expenditures related to the project as a whole, or the cost of each deliverable being developed in the project development process are highlighted are also discussed in detail.
10. Completion Criteria and Sign-off(s)
Last but not the least, the completion criteria of the project development process and the sign-off process is described for everyone to see so that all of the entities related to the project get to know when the project is supposed to end and cements their knowledge of the whole project development process timeline.
Tips to Write an SOW
Here are some of the tips that are necessary for you to understand before beginning with a scope of work document.
1. Be More Visual
You need to understand that reading is a lot harder than watching something. You can tell a million different things in a single picture than you can write in a 20-page document.
That’s why, when you are creating a scope of work document, you need to make sure that you use different graphics and visual representations to aid your work.
It will make things a lot easier for the rest of the team to understand.
2. Be Very Specific in Your Language
The language that you use in your scope of work document has to be very precise. You need to make sure that all of the different words and entities that you mention in your document are understood by all. Otherwise, what’s the point of it.
3. Get Proper Sign-offs
As a project manager, you need to get everyone on-board with your plan. This includes your team members and all the stakeholders that are connected to the project.
Doing so will reduce any complications in the future, and also reduce any conflicts that may arise between the manager and the stakeholders about the project management process.
Published at DZone with permission of Fred Wilson, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.