scope of work

Definition: The Scope of Work defines the required work to complete a project. It also includes project milestones, deliverables, reports, etc. A well-defined scope of work helps achieve project objectives with the least hassle.

Example of Scope of Work

In the scope of work, deliverables should list all tasks and details.

For example,

Task: Develop a web application for existing customers to log in, register, access a direct payment option without logging in, and an option to download the interest certificate without logging in using the registration number and OTP.

Deliverable: A customer portal web application for home loans. 

This example details whether it is a web application or mobile application and its functionalities.

Importance of the Scope of Work

Projects involve multiple stakeholders; therefore, there is a high chance of miscommunication and confusion. Sometimes, a minor error can jeopardize the project’s success. The scope of work helps avoid such situations.

The scope of work ensures all project stakeholders are on the same page with the same project vision.

Who Should Develop the Scope of Work?

The project manager develops the scope of work in collaboration with key stakeholders. The project starts after this document is ready. Any change in this document requires a change request.

If the project is being done through a fixed price contract, the client will provide a detailed scope of work.

How to Create a Scope of Work

The scope of work document usually contains the following parts:

  • Deliverables: Project deliverables and the end product are documented in this section. The Work Breakdown Structure and WBS Dictionary can be used for this purpose.
  • Timelines: This section provides a visual roadmap of the project from start to finish. A timeline or a Gantt Chart is used to describe the phases of the project.
  • Milestones: Milestones are critical project events that help track project progress. 
  • Reporting: If the deliverable is a report, this section will provide the details and frequency.

Scope of Work Template

A template of the scope of work is given below:

scope of work template
Scope of Work Template

Challenges Faced in Writing a Scope of Work

  • Scope Creep: If the requirements are not clearly defined, it can lead to scope creep and other issues affecting the project baselines.
  • Lack of Skills: If team members lack the necessary project management skills, they may prepare a sound scope of work but miss critical details.
  • Lack of Risk Management: If project managers do not follow risk management on their projects, risk can affect the project objectives.

Tips on Writing an Effective Scope of Work

  • Before finalizing the scope of work document, get key stakeholders’ consensus. 
  • Be specific and have explicit details.
  • If required, include visualizations, pictures, files, tables, photos, charts, graphics, videos, links, and examples to increase the readability.
  • All definitions, business terms, phrases, or acronyms must be explained in the document.
  • The project success criteria should be clear, and all stakeholders should agree on them.
  • Keep it realistic and consult with subject matter experts if required.
  • Involve the whole team in preparing the scope of work document.

Scope of Work Vs Statement of Work

Both scope of work and statement of work are abbreviated as SoW, but they are different.

Scope of work is a subset of a statement of work. A statement of work is a legal document that describes how to achieve the goal, and the scope of work defines the work to complete the project. 

For internal projects, the scope of work may only be required, but a statement of work is needed for an external project.

The scope of work document can help the project team and stakeholders to agree on requirements and identify potential risks that could impact the timelines.

The statement of work is built based on the scope of work and includes other information such as payment terms and conditions. This document is the first reference to avoid any disputes or misunderstandings.

Conclusion

Scope of work is a key project document that describes the work required to complete the project.  It helps project managers control scope; without it, scope creep can occur and affect the project baselines.