Scope of Work: What Is It + How to Write It

Isn’t it frustrating to plan a project without accurately knowing the budget? The deadline is coming up, and suddenly your client is unsatisfied with the work, wouldn’t you panic? Cases like this often happen when a project manager doesn’t create a good scope of work.

A scope of work is the optimal place to establish success for your project even before you start the ball rolling. You can give better direction and purpose to every team member and provide accurate updates to your clients.

Discover what scope of work is and what it can do for you and your team so you can meet your project goals!

What is the scope of work? 

Scope of work (SOW) is the foundation of a project that outlines the work a team has to perform during the project. Think of it as a document or a manual that describes every task your team has to accomplish in detail.

This agreement of work includes:

  • Deliverables. Deliverables can be tangible or intangible results of a project. For instance, some project managers typically offer visual representations of the end product so the team can replicate the client’s expectations.
  • Timeline. A timeline is your roadmap that talks about your project’s schedule from start to finish. It typically gives stakeholders and your team a bird’s eye view of the project scope.
  • Milestones. Milestones simplify long, complex projects by breaking them down into manageable tasks. It’s an excellent method to monitor your project’s progress to ensure everything goes according to schedule.
  • Reports. The final section of scope of work is presenting reports. Any project requires some reporting to team members, customers, stakeholders, and clients. It’s a means of communication that allows everyone to speak up about their progress and expectations.

Since project managers have a lot on their plate, writing all the details around your deliverables, schedule, project scope, budget and agreements minimize any pressure that may affect the product quality.

What are the uses of scope of work?

While even the most straightforward project has its hurdles, scope of work can help you manage your projects efficiently. So any sudden changes during a project execution allow managers to take an active role in incorporating methods to address solutions to meet the stakeholder’s concerns.

Here are the uses of scope of work:

  • Avoid scope creep. When a project manager doesn’t correctly develop a strategy when planning a project, they increase the risk of scope creep. Thus, the scope of work contains all the specific details along with its designated timeline to ensure that the team doesn’t forget important points.
  • Proactive management. Whenever a project scope changes, don’t hesitate to take a proactive approach to identify these changes. Project managers must discuss these modifications prior to executing the said changes. During the discussion, talk about how each change affects the results.
  • Encourages accountability. Part of writing a scope of work is delegating tasks to the ideal team member. Project managers can confuse the team if they fail to assign specific duties. So, encouraging your team to be accountable for their work lessens confusion, resulting in better productivity.
  • Thorough impact analysis. While planning a project, conducting a proper impact analysis check is essential to dodge unpleasant consequences. Therefore, your scope of work should consist of the possible directions that can affect your overall results.
  • Boosts product quality. An effective scope of work avoids quick fixes affecting a product’s quality. However, if a project manager doesn’t thoroughly analyze potential changes, it can ultimately lower the product’s quality.

You can also align your scope of work with a project management software to keep every team member on track with your project objectives.

project manager discussing scope of work with team

How to write a scope of work for any project

Most projects fail due to a lack of proper planning. Unfortunately, it’s easy for an entire team to understand their tasks and wrap their heads around deadlines when a project manager creates a scope of work.

To write an excellent scope of work, below are some must practices that you need to know:

1. Schedule a meeting with your client

In order to write a scope of work, meeting with your client to discuss your collaboration is essential. During this meeting, allow your client to express their vision while you take down notes.

2. Have a meeting with your project team

Have a brainstorming session with your team after having a project discussion with your client. Talk about your product development, project schedule, and milestones of your project. Ensure that everyone contributes realistic and attainable goals to include in your scope of work.

3. Write a scope of work draft

Write the central components discussed during your meeting with the parties involved. Since your client may have some additional thoughts or revisions, keep your mind open to modifying your draft before the final approval.

4. Explicit important details

Be specific with the terms you write in your scope of work. Use familiar words instead of technical phrases so every person—especially your client—understands the project scope from the get-go.

5. Use visuals

Including visual aids in your scope of work gives your team an idea of your project’s end goal. Doing so prevents misinterpretation and confusion. Whenever possible, use charts, models, and pictures to explain your client’s objectives.

6. Review your scope of work draft

While some project managers are too eager to present their scope of work, still it’s better to give it a couple of days to review your draft. Waiting days later to check your draft gives you a fresh outlook when editing your scope of work.

7. Present your scope of work to your client

Once you’re satisfied with your scope of work document, it’s time to present it to your client. Your client may have feedback as for as the project goes. Again, always note down any information they offer to improve the project scope.

8. Make the necessary changes

If your client has any comments and concerns about your proposed scope of work, make the necessary corrections so you can align with your client’s needs.

9. Get final sign-offs

Have them sign the document when you and your client agree with your deliverables, timeline, and project milestones. Their signature ensures that they read and approve your final scope of work.

Scope of work example #1

Document Author: (Your Name/Company)

Project Title: (Company Name) eCommerce website design

Client Name: (Name Of Client)

Current Date: July 25, 2022

Objectives: This SOW covers the development, project management, and handover of website design services for (Name of company) eCommerce website. The website will showcase a sophisticated design that draws consumers to make a sale. It should highlight a contemporary, straightforward feel so potential customers can easily navigate the website.

Start date: November 22, 2022

Scope of work:

Strategy and planning (2-8 weeks) – This phase of the project scope consists of strategy sessions, writing creative and technical briefs, and other detailed site architecture plans.

Designing (4-10 weeks) – We will base our design on the creative briefs and other information gathered in the planning phase. We will design website mock-ups and present them to (Name of Client) to ensure we meet the criteria. The design mock-ups include homepage, product category page, desktop, and mobile views.

Development and programming (5-15 weeks) – If the client approves the design, we will move on to developing the eCommerce website.

Beta testing and review (2-4 weeks) – Here, we will test the website if it’s optimized for desktop and mobile devices to ensure the site performs well before the launch.

Site launch (1-2 weeks) – once the website has been tested, we can launch the site.

Maintenance – If there’s anything that needs upkeeping in terms of security, hosting, and accessibility, we will keep improving the site. We will also base our enhancements on user feedback and client requests.

Payment Terms:

30% deposit upon the scope of work acceptance
30% on approval of the final design
30% on approval of the final website
10% when the website goes live

Scope of work example #2

(Company Name) Graphic design for a food menu

Project Overview:

(Company Name) needs a menu for their restaurant that embodies their company brand. The client needs the design in PNG or JPG file format for their social media accounts to advertise their cuisine online and for a digital board to display on a TV at their restaurant.

Scope of work:

Definition Phase

Task 1

Gathering expectations from the client and structuring the collected information for the brainstorming session. Then, collect the necessary photos needed for the layout. The client meeting would take roughly 1 hour.

Task 2

Brainstorming to generate ideas to create a mood board temple which could take up to 4-6 hours.

Creation Phase

Task 1

After creating a mood board, I will start the graphic design production process, where I will come up with three possible designs for the client to choose from. This would take about 10-30 hours, depending on the details required by the client.

Task 2

I will present the three drafted menu layouts to the client. Here I will collect any potential feedback for revisions. However, the client will only choose (1) out of the (3) menu layout.

Task 3

Finalizing possible changes suggested by the client would take roughly 6-12 hours.

Delivery Phase

Task 1

When the client is happy with my work, I will create an invoice and send the files to my client through their preferred platform.

Payment terms:

All the design processes will require the client to pay 50% after the approval of my scope of work. Then the remaining 50% will be due upon completion of the project.

Scope of work example #3

Project: Social media campaign

Client business name: Company xyz

Client’s name: Name of client

Project goals:

  • Drive sales – we will run ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok. We will continue the ads to boost the audience clicks the ads receive.
  • Increase traffic – we will monitor the landing page traffic through Google Analytics to determine which ads the traffic is funneling through. Doing so will help us understand your target audience that responds to the ads for better project alignment.
  • Increase engagement – we will create sharable content on social media based on data and trends.

Project schedule:

  • January 20: Kick-off of the social media campaign
  • January 25: Content strategy approval
  • January 30: Social media campaign launch
  • February 7-24: Monitor and measure social media analytics
  • March 1: Mid-season review
  • March 3-24: Monitor and measure social media analytics
  • March 29: Reporting of results to client X
  • March 31: Closure of the project


  • On January 30, we will launch the campaign and measure the results against the data before this date.
  • By the end of February, expect a 6% increase in online sales.
  • At the end of the campaign client’s social media engagement should increase by 25%. Here, we will use analytics tools to measure engagement rates and check popular target audiences.

Payment terms:

Milestone Payment

  • Initial payment of 30% after the client agrees with the scope of work.
  • The client must pay another 30% within 30-days of the client’s approval date.
  • And 40% at the project completion.

Create your own scope of work

If you made it through this scope of work guide, you’re one step closer to achieving your project management goals. In this article, you learned that the scope of work is a handy document that contains in depth details, so your client and team are well aware of the project’s directions. Thus, investing time in writing a scope of work proves its advantages.

The scope of work in project management is not just for professionals. It can also be beneficial for students who have school projects. Like in the professional world, it can help them formulate an effective game plan to produce exceptional results.

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