Scope out priorities, tasks, and project stakeholders

Clearly define the scope of work needed to complete a project at work with this free, editable scope of work template for your business

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What is SOW (scope of work) in a project?

A project’s scope of work serves as an agreement between the team assigning the work and the team responsible for completing the work. It is a detailed document outlining exactly what will be done, how long the job will take, what the must-hit milestones are, what the final product should look like, and – if applicable – how much the work will cost. A scope of work gets all parties on the same page before work begins to ensure the job is done thoroughly, efficiently, and accurately.

What is involved in project scope management?

Project scope management requires breaking down the ultimate vision for a project into clear and actionable tasks and deadlines for the person or team responsible for doing the work. To proactively plan for the project’s ultimate and timely success, scope managers need to oversee the following:

  1. Drafting the initial scope of work statement with a project scope of work template
  2. Working with stakeholders to ensure realistic expectations are set​​
  3. Defining the overall scope of the project in a detailed description to secure buy-in
  4. ​​
  5. Breaking down the project into individual tasks, each of which is to be completed by a team/individual by a set deadline
  6. Sharing these assignments with stakeholders for final approval and validation. This step is
  7. crucial, as it’s the last chance for them to provide input before work begins
  8. Ensuring the project’s timely deliverables that stay within the outlined scope

What should a scope of work document include?

A scope of work document’s content will differ depending on the size of the project. However, most scope of work documents include the following sections:

  1. Name, organization, and contact information of the project manager
  2. Project goals and purpose
  3. List of tasks to be completed, their due dates, and owners
  4. List of deliverables, their due dates, and responsible parties
  5. Project budget
  6. Project management resources and FAQs for reference

What should not be included in a SOW document?

  • Ambiguous language that is not supported by clear descriptions regarding expectations and deadlines
  • Backup plans if deadlines are not met
  • Confidential company information if the SOW document is being shared with contractors or freelancers

How do you define the scope of a project?

Defining the scope of work requires setting the most realistic yet ambitious goals given the resources available to you. To that end, here are the steps for defining the scope of work for a project.

  1. Think big. Define what ultimate success would look like when the project is complete​​
  2. Gather your tools. Survey your resources (budget, people, tools & software) to determine if this ideal outcome is feasible
  3. Make ends meet. If the two don’t match up, work to secure more resources or reset expectations for the project so that the project is doable
  4. Divvy up tasks. Assign larger tasks of the project to certain teams or individuals
  5. Work with stakeholders. Collaborate with workers to set realistic timelines for project deliverables given your resources. Be sure to identify any limitations on their end or yours
  6. Wrap it up. Document your project’s scope with a final scope of work template to share with all stakeholders for final approval

After securing final approval, you’ll have a clear definition of the project’s scope.

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