Project execution itself is a labour-intensive and complex process consisting of multiple stages. The same applied to project preparation, since project launch requires its careful and detailed elaboration. At the preparatory stage it’s important to define all the details, such as time frames, features that the future project should possess and many more. All these details should be documented beforehand, so the performing party could adhere to the agreements and minimize further miscommunications with customers. The document where these points are outlined, is called a Scope Of Work (SOW), and a project manager prepares it before the actual project execution. In the following chapters let’s take a closer look at the essence of SOW and its major steps, and try to figure out how to prepare this kind of documentation.
Scope Of Work: Why to Prepare?
Preparation of SOW is necessary to ensure that all the nuances are agreed-upon and each party would adhere to the agreements documented there. This is being done to avoid various miscommunications and confusions between parties that may lead to serious disputes and even costly reworks. Before the team embarks on the project execution, it’s worth to include in SOW the following points:
- Project Objectives. Main goals of the project should be defined and problems that require solutions pointed out.
- Time Frames. It’s necessary to agree on the deadline of the project and define the stages and phases, so the project progress may be monitored.
- Deliverables. This part contains the information considering the essence of your project, whether it’s a service or a product, and what is the expected outcome.
- Payment Information. In this section all the information about the financial side of the project is outlined.
- Final Results. It should be clearly outlined what result is expected at the end of project development, to be sure that the initial objectives match the outcome.
- Reports. This section will include the reports generated at different stages of project execution. They reflect the progress of the ongoing project and give the overall picture of how it goes in general.
Read Also: Project Management Steps that Should Be Taken for Successful Project Launch
Scope of Work: Structure and How to Write
Well, when all the details considering the future project are carefully planned and polished, it’s time to get to their documentation. For convenience of both parties scope of work has its structure where all the points are clearly outlined. In this chapter let’s consider the major sections SOW must contain, and how all necessary details should be documented.
Point 1: Introduction
This section contains general information about the planned project, such as project type, parties involved in development etc. Introduction may also include formal agreements and details that can be created later on the basis of SOW. The first type of such agreement is a standing offer. This is a kind of offer which presupposes buying services or products at a concrete price. The second and more formal type is a contract, which is a legally binding agreement that contains details the parties agreed about.
Point 2: Project Overview and Objectives
Why are you ready to incur costs in order to gain a product or a service? What is your future project aimed at? Which goals do you plan to reach with it? The answers to these questions are included in the section of overview and objectives, which reflects the main course of the project. It starts from the explanation of the project and its essence, and ends with the expected deliverables and business goals planned to reach through the use of the project.
Point 3: Scope of Work
This section includes a description of work and activities that need to be done for project completion. This part of the SOW document contains the list of necessary activities to be taken in general. As a rule, SOW presupposes the brief explanation of the workflows during the project development without diving into specifics.
Point 4: Task List
Creation of the list of planned tasks and task management in general is an essential part of any project. Especially when using a vendor for development services which doesn’t presuppose cooperation with the in-house team. Moreover, dividing a large scope into smaller tasks is the most convenient way to reach maximum level of efficiency, and ensure minimum probability that something will be missed. The most important thing to keep in mind regarding the task list in the SOW document, is that tasks pointed out there are not deliverables, but just actions that need to be taken.
Point 5: Project Schedule
A perfect project that would meet all the requirements must be carefully planned. Planning takes a lion’s share of the entire process, and includes time management as well. Therefore this section doesn’t just state the start date and end date of the project. There exists a software development life cycle where all major phases are outlined, and on their basis, the project schedule is drawn up. In this part of the document all planned steps and milestones are reflected, and in accordance with them you will be able to keep an eye onthe project progress and ensure that everything goes in compliance with the initial plan. Also, if any deviations occur, it will be possible to take necessary actions right away, without any delays.
Point 6: Project Deliverables
Well, it’s time to figure out the results that are expected from the development team at the end of each sprint or the entire development process. This part of the document includes the deliverables that should be completed at different stages of the project. This section may include such things as:
- Integration with a third-party system
- Implementation of a concrete feature
- Landing page redesign
Point 7: Adoption Plan
Most SOW documents do not include the adoption plan, which is in fact very important and worth spending time for. This section includes the details about how the deliverables will be implemented in practice, such as data migration or introduction of a new feature into the existing software. And since the responsibility for the adoption fully lies on a customer, it’s better to receive a guideline from the professionals who worked on this project to make this process smooth.
Point 8: Project Management
When all the details considering project planning and its deliverables are sorted out, it’s time to include some administrative section, where any missing information or additional details will be outlined. For example:
- Payment details: include the payment method and estimated time; what must be done in case of some changes or missed deadlines.
- Reporting: it’s determined who is responsible for approval of certain changes, or which party deals with further maintenance of the ready-made software.
Point 9: Completion Criteria and Sign-off
This is the last but not least section which describes in what way the delivered results will be considered and signed off. This section seems to be not that important and even not necessary, but remember: SOW is all about specifics and transparency. Having this agreed-upon will help you to significantly decrease the possibility of unexpected outcomes.
It goes without saying that preparation of a SOW document is a pretty time-consuming process, which requires a lot of effort. All the details considering the project must be agreed-upon and documented, as well as any changes that may occur on the way. But if you are well-prepared, any type of work will flow easier, and all possible miscommunications will be minimized, which is good for both parties: a vendor and a customer. If you are currently seeking a reliable partner for your project development with the robust project management, please contact us, our experts will gladly assist.