9 Tips to Writing a
Statement of Work Effectively

Writing a Statement of Work (SOW) effectively is essential as SOWs are the most essential documents in any tender or contract. They are read and interpreted by both buyers and suppliers with very diverse backgrounds.

Therefore, when you want to determine how to write a statement of work, you need to write in such a way that technical and non-technical readers can understand them during the risk assessment, contract development, solicitation, award, administration, acceptance, and closeout.

To ensure that when writing a SOW it accurately reflects what the contracting parties have agreed to, follow these tips:

1. Prepare SOW in Advance

Start preparing the statement of worksufficiently in advance before it is needed, so that the team can do a good job on it. The initial effort will be repaid many times over.

2. Use Clear and Direct Language

Be clear and use simple direct language. Avoid wording that can be confusing. (each and any, minimum and maximum, using the word ‘reasonable’ is asking for trouble – who knows: what is reasonable you maybe be completely unreasonable to your supplier).

3. Spell Out Obligations

Spell out the buyer’s and seller’s obligations carefully. Do not infer or back into a work requirement.

4. Be Consistent

Be as consistent as you can in your terminology. Do not worry about being repetitious, contracts are not the place to use creative words.

5. Include Procedures

When immediate decisions cannot be made it may be possible to include a procedure for making them. For example as ‘approved by the purchaser’ or ‘the seller shall submit a report each time a category B delay occurs’.

6. Include All Relevant Reference Documents

Be sure that you have read and that you completely understand the content of anything that is being referenced.

7. Include Standards of Measurements

Include standards that will make performance measurements and acceptance possible and meaningful.

8. Do Not Over Specify or Over State

Depending upon the nature of the work and the type of contract, the ideal situation may be to specify results required or end items to be delivered and let the contractor propose the best method.

9. Proof Read

Proof Read for errors and omissions as well as for consistent format and conflicts with other documents. Let others who have appropriate skill sets proof read as well.

These 9 tips are just an opener regarding writing statements of work and how to use them in contracts. To fully understand SOWs as part of the contract management & administration process, plus get the full 21 tips on writing a statement of work effectively, download the “Contract Management & Administration Guide”, which outlines how to make sense of the whole contract management process, SOW’s and provides clear guidelines on what you need to do when managing contracts. Click here to download the Guide


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