How to write a scope statement of work

Scope Statement of Work (SOW)
How to write a scope statement of work

A Scope Statement of Work or a Scope of Work (SOW) is the official document by which a project is executed. Without the Scope of Work, a project has no existence. Every business that undertakes a project has to create a Scope of Work in order for the various demands, needs and conditions to be outlined. It is a rule book for the entire team of stakeholders, including the project manager and project sponsor, and guides the processes and outcome of the project. Anything that is not mentioned in the SOW is outside the scope of the project and not to be followed.

The Scope of Work is drafted by the project manager. It is a confusing and tedious procedure and hence a specific format has to be adhered to by which the Scope Statement of Work may be created. This guide outlines the steps involved in creating a SOW.


Step 1


The objectives always indicate why the project is initiated, to begin with. There is always a motive behind the investment of funds and time to start a project. Is it a product or a service? What are its expectations? Why does a business need to carry out this project? The objectives answer the reasoning part of ‘WHY’ a project is undertaken.

Step 2


Work is decomposed into do-able tasks called work packages. These work packages have definite outlines and are of short duration each. Many work packages put together forms the Work of a phase or the project as a whole. The ‘results’ of work packages is technically called the deliverables. In any given phase, when there is work to be done, the deliverables that are outlined determine the way the work packages are carried out.

Step 3

Variables or parameters

When a project is carried out, there are certain limiting factors which are common for all projects. They are the ‘cost, resource, time, manpower and technology’; the two most important being cost and time. Limitations with respect to the cost and time determine the limits of the other parameters.

Step 4


The SOW specifically mentions the work that is to be done. It is the process that has to be followed for each phase. The Work Breakdown Structure which is an extension of the Scope of Work, gives a more detailed outline of the work and work packages. The Scope mentions the conditions for the Work that is to be carried out; specifically mentioning certain points known as inclusions and exclusions.

Step 5


Everything that is mentioned in the Scope of Work is part of a project. Anything that is not mentioned in the Scope of Work is outside the scope of the project. At the same time, while the Scope does not outline the details of each work package there are certain conditions that may be mandatory and have to be followed irrespective of the opinions of members or other factors.

For example, the SOW may state: ‘Construction of the East Wing of the Bay View Mall from March 01 2011 to May 31 2011 may be undertaken by twenty workers, no more, no less. This is for the purpose of evaluating and studying the amount of work that can be done in this given period of time, by twenty workers.’

Things Needed
• Knowledge of project management principles and practices
• Knowledge of the tools and techniques to be used in the project
• A clear understanding of the aims and objectives of the project
• A clear communication between project sponsor, project manager, stakeholders and the entire project team

Tips & Warnings
• The SOW has to be clear, specific and to the point.
• There should be no room for doubt with any given condition of clause.
• It should be as transparent as possible, allowing easy access and use during the project.
• Inclusions and exclusions have to be as clear as possible. It should give no room for alternate interpretation.


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