what is scope of work in project management

What Is Scope of Work in Project Management

For every project management, miscommunication is one of the typical troubles to encounter. Project management consists of several internal and external parties, making it prone to risks that may derail the project. This is why the scope of work is essential in every project management. And in this article, we’ll dive into what scope of work is in project management. 

What is the scope of work in project management?

The scope of work (SOW) in project management refers to the document that entails the two parties’ working agreement. Usually, this is between a client (your organization) and the external parties involved, like an agency, vendor, or contractor. 

This document aims to define all the matters included and excluded in the project. It provides clarity on all agreed expectations of both parties. This way, both the team and the external party are headed in the same direction. 

Why is the scope of work necessary?

Aside from the clarity it provides, the scope of work in project management has many more uses, such as:

  • Provides a detailed outline of exact to-dos and data about cost estimates and project plans
  • Helps refine the approach in tackling project management in cases of changes
  • Gives assurance to clients that l deliverables will be executed on time
  • Serves as the exact guide to determine the inclusions of the project
scope of work in project management

The components of the scope of work in project management

Here are the key components that make up an effective scope of work in project management:

  • Project objectives

This refers to the purpose of the project. It should state the reason behind the existence of the project and what results it aims to achieve.

  • Timeline and milestones

This part should answer when the project will start and when it will end. In the given timeline, there must be milestones to track.

  • Deliverables

The deliverables are the necessary output or documents by the end of the project. These could be documents, receipts, supporting files, and more.

  • Deliverable timeline

This part indicates the complete timeline of a deliverable. It consists of the starting dates and the due dates. Here, the project manager assesses the maximum number of hours the team is willing to spend resources on.

  • Tasks

These are the activities that make up the deliverables. These include all the necessary action steps to finish the project.

  • Task responsibility distribution

This refers to the delegation of every task to its rightful owner.

  • Payment information

The payment information consists of the cost estimate, budget allocation, payment and schedule, and the payment platform.

  • Projected results

These are the expected results of the project. It resolves the given problems and identifies the objectives to be met. Also, it includes how success is to be measured and reported.

  • Work requirements

These are the special requirements and specifications needed to complete the project. Here, the specific tools, strategies, approaches, terms, and conditions are stated.

scope of work

Best practices in writing a scope of work in project management

Here are some powerful tips in writing an effective scope of work in project management. 

1. Break things down.

You don’t have to write a whole scope of work for an entire project in one go. Breaking down a project into phases will help you ease the process. As a tip, you can create a scope of work for every phase as it progresses. This way, you aren’t doing everything at one go.

2. Plan thoroughly.

A scope of work is a detailed document that consists of agree-upon expectations. Thus, it needs thorough planning and consideration of all matters that involve the project. You must ensure that you include all the following details:

  • What to do
  • How to implement these
  • Variables
  • The required processes
  • Project inclusions and exclusions

3. State the purpose.

Elaborate on why the project is important to complete. Specify why the organization is doing it even when the plan changes. This way, there’s clarity on how you are going to measure success. 

4. Specify as much as possible.

Remember, one of the main objectives of a scope of work is to clear out any possible confusion between both parties. So, in writing your scope of work, you ought to be specific as much as possible. This is to avoid misunderstanding on the provisions of the project. 

Here are some specifics to jot down in making a scope of work:

  • Identify the project limitations
  • Quantify the needed work
  • Set clearly what’s required and not

5. Simplify the structure.

Skip all ambiguities and get straightforward instead. Adding fluff and unnecessary information will lead to further misunderstanding with parties involved. That said, you need to write in a detailed, concise, and specific manner.

One of the reasons why project management fails is due to a misunderstanding. Several possibilities can derail your project, which you can find out from this online course, Project Management: Seven Reasons Why Projects May Fail.

6. Insert lots of visuals.

A scope of work that contains graphs, infographics, photos, and other visuals is more immersive. Visuals do not just break up a chunk of paragraphs, but they also support what you want to convey. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. As a result, everyone will have a better understanding of what the scope of work is.

7. Involve your stakeholders.

You should always take into consideration the stakeholders’ approval. They must be involved in the drafting process to align them with your plans. After all, you need their consent for the green light. So, it’s only logical to communicate with them the plans and some considerations.

8. Align with everyone.

Apart from the stakeholders, you also need to communicate with the parties involved. To ensure that all entities are on the same page, you need to share it with them. After all, they are a part of the project. Thus, they need to be involved in every step of the way.

And that’s your guide to creating a comprehensive and clear scope of work in keeping everyone aligned and on-track. If you need a more in-depth explanation of what is the scope of work in project management, these online courses are your best friend:

Ready to craft a comprehensive scope of work? Click here to get started.

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