What is a Consulting Statement of Work?
A consulting statement of work is a client-facing and legally binding document that outlines the work details proposed by a consultant. It sets the client’s expectations, summarizes project details, and mitigates scope creep.
Think of a consulting SOW as a high-level overview of the project, delivery details, timeline, and payment terms. This document is flexible—consider understanding its purpose first and then create it according to your needs.
Note: Sign up to Bonsai free and start editing your consulting statement of work today.
The Purpose of a Consulting Statement of Work
The purpose of a consulting SOW is to create structure around verbally discussed project details and terms. Consultants usually include an SOW in the contract to offer clients transparency when it comes to:
- Project deliverables
- Success metrics
- Dispute resolution
- Project schedule
- Project resources
- Payment terms
The contractual obligations included in the SOW lay down the law for internal and external stakeholders. This process helps consultants acquire the necessary resources from clients for completing a project, as well as avoid any misunderstandings further down the line.
Fundamentals of Consulting SOW Template
Now that you know the importance of a consulting SOW, it’s time to get into what it takes to create one. While there are no set rules for creating an SOW, consider making it:
- Simple and straightforward: so that the client easily understand the core aspects of the project
- Personalized: based on your conversation with the client
- Visually pleasing: support content with graphs, tables, and mock-ups
The project introduction summarizes the SOW. It briefs the client on what they’re about to read and lays the groundwork for your SOW.
You can use this section to offer any background information that might aid the client in their understanding of the project. You can also use this space to highlight the need for the project.
Adding a project background shows that you have done the legwork required for executing the project successfully. Use this section to showcase how your expertise aligns with the project goals and get the clients on board with your reasoning. Here’s an idea of what to add:
- Current problems: that led to the project being initiated
- Proposed solution: that you’ll implement to solve these problems
- Explanations: on how the proposed solution will solve the problem
- Assumptions: that a consultant expects to happen during the project lifecycle
- Desired outcomes: that the client wants to achieve through the project
It’s essential that all parties understand the need for the project, and the problems that you’re being contracted to solve.
This section explains the project goals in detail to ensure a successful approach to project management.
Writing clear and concise objectives helps clients to get a sense of end results and the way a service provider contributes to it. For example, a social media consultant should look to achieve goals, such as:
- Introduce a marketing plan that will increase inbound leads by 10%
- Deploy five organic and paid media campaigns over the space of three months
- Define five KPIs for measuring audience engagement
A project scope is the architecture of a project. It outlines the desired goals and explains how they will be achieved. Putting all these details down on paper helps ensure both parties are on the same page about project requirements and potential issues. Here’s a list of what you can add:
- Phases: that detail the steps to be taken throughout the project
- Budget overview: to mention expected costs for the duration of the project
- External factors: that could influence the consultant ability to hit project goals
- Requirements: that you are needed to successfully consider the project as complete
Clearly defining the work you’ll be doing limits scope creep and provides insights into the project timeline. You can then further develop this in the project schedule.
This is where you include the start and end dates for all project-related tasks. Once approved by the client, this schedule is a timeline for hitting project milestones. For creating a comprehensive project schedule, consider adding:
- Time: you expect each project phase to take
- Milestones: which must be completed in order to progress with the project
- Resources: that you’ll require to complete a project on time
Depending on your initial conversation with the client, you can determine the type of schedule to create. Consultants usually use one of these project schedules:
- Master project schedule: highlights the duration of key tasks and phases
- Milestone schedule: monitors major milestones and progress at a glance, such as project approval and critical task completion
- Detailed project schedule: tracks every project activity at an operational level
Bonsai top tip: Use a consulting timesheet to keep track of the time you spend on a project.
Deliverables are tangible and intangible outputs that clients expect consultants to achieve by the end of a project. These deliverables often stem from project aims and may include additional outcomes as well.
Before deciding on specific deliverables and a deliverable schedule, consider talking to the client about:
- High-level goals: that the client hopes to achieve through this project
- Specific requirements: that are complete and final in order to avoid scope creep
- KPIs: so that you can track progress from start to finish
- Approval process: to define the project review process and how it’ll be managed
It’s then your responsibility to keep track of the deliverables schedule throughout the different phases of the project plan.
This is where you offer a high-level overview of the critical project data that highlights your success. It’s key to communicate this to the client using an easy-to-understand format.
These reports provide insights into ongoing projects and help determine any next steps. Depending on the one-on-one discussions you’ve had with the client, you can create any of these following types of reports:
- Project status report: offers a general snapshot of project advancement
- Project health report: provides insights into project timeline deviation
- Risk report: identifies potential roadblocks
- Variance report: tracks project milestones and objectives to measure variance
- Time tracking report: measures time spent on specific tasks
These reports come at different stages of the project, and it’s up to you and the client to discuss details. Some projects will require long-term reporting methods—it’s important to include who’s responsibility this is.
Check out this consulting report example.
Payment terms and conditions
Payment terms and conditions outline the project cost, payment mode, schedule, and other related conditions. Consultants usually charge either by the hour or a fixed project fee.
Customize this section after understanding the client’s preferences and make sure to include payment terms and consequences.
Note: For more info on how to bill for consulting services, take a look at this guide.
This is the last section of a consulting SOW. It requires that the client sign to confirm that both parties understand the acceptance criteria and agree to the terms of the project.
Consider mentioning change control methods here to establish the process for altering the statement of work. Hopefully, everything will go to plan, but it’s essential to include details on what happens if it doesn’t.
Once the statement of work is accepted, you can begin the project as per the stages outlined.
Tips for Drafting a Statement of Work Template for Consulting Services
Adding the right elements is key to creating a winning statement of work. The best way to create a flawless SOW is to customize a consulting statement of work template according to the clients’ needs. Here are some tips on how to pull it all together:
Understand the clients’ needs
A solid understanding of the project is crucial for project success. That’s why it’s best to get on a one-on-call or a virtual meeting to understand the project’s purpose.
Asking the right questions during these conversations will help you get a sense of what the client wants to achieve, how, and by when. It also lays the foundations for a strong business relationship and sets the tone for the incoming project.
Keep it simple and be flexible
While you want to include every important detail in an SOW, you don’t want to overburden clients with jargon. So, keep it simple by avoiding passive tenses and using short declarative sentences.
You want to make the process as simple as possible for the client—you’re the expert, after all. This is one of many projects they’re likely managing, and you can make it a whole lot simpler just by prioritizing transparency and flexibility.
For example, consider creating a change request form that a client can use to make change requests going forward. This will help keep track of changes throughout the project, and ensures the client understands and has access to the change process.
Add a CTA
What do you want a client to do next? You’ve created this statement of work for a reason..
Clearly mention what’s next—whether that’s a signature on the dotted line, an advance payment, or an exploratory call. This pushes them towards your desired outcome, and allows the project to progress swiftly.
Creating a Consultant Statement of Work Template is Simple with Bonsai
Creating a consultant SOW may seem like a lot, but it becomes easier when you use a statement of work template for professional services.
Create your next statement of work with Bonsai—where you’ll find thousands of consulting templates, invoices, contracts, and more. Here’s how to get started:
- Sign up for free to Bonsai
- Find a suitable consultant SOW template
- Edit and customize your SOW
Once you customize it, you can also send it to your client, get it signed, and manage it throughout the entire process. Better yet, you can do all this without ever leaving the platform.
Consultant Statement of Work FAQs
What is a consultant statement of work?
A consultant statement of work is a client-facing document that outlines the requirements, details, timelines, and payment terms of a project. It keeps a consultant and a client in the loop about the decided details of a project.
A statement of work is a longer, legally binding document, whereas a project charter is shorter and non-binding. Consider which of the two fits your needs best.
Is a statement of work legally binding?
Yes, a statement of work is a legally binding document that defines the client-vendor obligations during a project. Depending on your location, you may want to add a formal legal contract before starting your work on a project.