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The Statement of Work – the Project Managers most powerful tool

By Jo Petroccia     
The Statement of Work – the Project Managers most powerful tool

In the early noughties, The Statement of Work (SOW) was a document primarily used by digital agencies, in the absence of an agreed contract or retainer between the agency and their client and fees were charged ‘per project’

Fortunately, the SOW has now been adopted and embraced by the wider marketing industry as they recognise the significance of this document and the value it adds to the management of projects.

The SOW sets out the ground rules for the agency and their client and is a powerful project management tool.

A well written SOW should be easy to read, telling the story of the project – including the objective, the scope, the schedule, the pricing and billing milestones and the clients involvement, so the reader gets the full picture instantly and understands their responsibility as well as the agency’s.

But what makes this document a powerful stick in any project management arsenal is the itemisation of key assumptions and areas of the project that are deemed to be out of scope.

Key assumptions are the most important part of any SOW. This is where the project manager details any assumptions made when scoping and estimating the project that cannot be established or verified when supplying the SOW.

This avoidance of doubt is key to a good client/agency relationship and a project running smoothly.

Scope creep is a familiar term for most project managers and can become an area of great contention. Proposals normally detail what’s included in the scope of work (in scope) but without clearly detailing what isn’t included (out of scope) assumptions will be made and can lead to disputes further down the line. A good statement of work will clearly itemise areas that are out of scope so all party’s expectations are managed.

Managing risk is a key part of the project manager’s role. Using an SOW is a great way to identify and manage risks on projects and offer transparency to clients on their projects.

If you would like to learn more about the power of The Statement of Work or other project management tools, join one of THE INDUSTRY SCHOOL’S Project Management Workshops run by industry expert Melissa Smith. Our next workshop is on January 15th 2018.

Written by Melissa Smith, Project Management Trainer.