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Table of Contents

How to write a software development SOW?

Skip manually designing and editing a SOW. Writing an SOW for software developers is easy with Bonsai. You can sign up for free and download our easy to use templates.

Who should write a software development SOW?

This typically is written by the client but authors may vary. The software development and client can put up the SOW together.

What is SOW mean in software development?

An SOW or Statement of Work in the software development industry is a business document that details every detail of the contract between the customer and an outsourcing firm. This reduces the likelihood of disagreement or misunderstanding between the two parties in the future.

What is a Software Development SOW?


A software development statement of work (SOW) is a legally binding business document aimed at capturing the contractual obligations of software development projects.

It defines project activities, requirements, and deliverables—think of it as your holy grail when it comes to your responsibilities as a software developer. 

Note: Sign up to Bonsai free to create a detailed software development statement of work. There you’ll also be able to create proposals, contracts, invoices, and more using ready-to-use and customizable templates.

The Purpose of a Software Development SOW


A software development statement of work is important for fleshing out the essential project delivery details. 

These details are key to creating a shared understanding of what will be delivered during different phases of the project. The purpose of creating an SOW is to define what’s within the project scope and what’s not.

Aim to strike a balance between providing a detailed description and creating an easy-to-read SOW. The best way to get started is to use a downloadable software statement of work template and customize it to fit your needs.

Here’re a few pointers to keep in mind when writing any SOW:

  • Set expectations: so that the client has a clear idea of the project and goals
  • Mention deliverables: that you will be sharing at each stage of the project timeline
  • Clarify scope: to include sufficient detail and avoid project scope creep at a later time
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Fundamentals of SOW Template for Software Development


A well-written statement of work acts as a baseline for work agreements between both parties. Including the right sections helps you define project scope, key performance indicators, and responsibilities. 

Moreover, it shows that you have a rock-solid understanding of the project goals and deliverables. Here’s more on what you can add to a software statement of work:

Project background

This is the first section of your statement of work. It defines the project rationale clearly and concisely. 

Project background gives a clear overview of:

  • Project purpose: that defines why an organization is undergoing a project
  • Project requisites: that outline internal and external resources needed for a project to succeed
  • Project goals: that a software developer needs to achieve when approaching software development outsourcing
  • Implementation: that specify steps to turn project plans into actions

Once you’ve identified the problem and its context, you can better approach the project. Use this section to pique the client’s interest by talking about your background and expertise, and how your software development company is perfectly positioned to provide a solution. 

Project objectives 

Use this space to specify participants, project duration, functionality implementation, and relevant background information. Project objectives communicate the project goals and help ensure both parties have a clear vision of measurable goals. Consider making these objectives:

  • Specific: so that you have a crystal clear path to achieving your goals
  • Measurable: so that you can easily track progress as you go
  • Achievable: ensure your goals are realistic
  • Relevant: so that the bigger goals reflect the project purpose
  • Time-bound: to measure the time horizon for accomplishing goals

Whilst you want to impress, you also want to be realistic—don’t set goals you won’t hit.

Scope of work

The scope of work is crucial for portraying your understanding of the entire project. Consider breaking down a project into manageable elements and creating a work breakdown structure in this section. 

The project scope also helps you to stay focused during the entire project and enables you to better avoid scope creep. Here’s an idea of what to include:

  • Project phases: to specify extensive and comprehensive tasks, and when they’ll be considered complete
  • General budget overview: to mention costs to be covered by the client
  • External factors: such as hardware and software restrictions that may influence the project outcomes
  • Requirements: to outline what you need to complete the project

Project requirements

Project requirements offer a clear picture of the work that you need to deliver. It also helps a client to understand the alignment between project resources and objectives. 

Consider using this section to outline different project requirements such as:

  • Business requirements: that define the high-level tasks that must be completed for successful project completion
  • Stakeholder requirements: to mention roles and requirements of stakeholders in the project
  • Solution requirements: to specify product features and functions that you’ll be developing
  • Functional requirements: of different users and resources involved in the project
  • Non-functional requirements: such as software performance, reliability, scalability, and maintainability
  • Transition requirements: outline the capabilities that a newly developed software must have for a smooth transition from the current state

This highlights the boxes that a solution needs to tick, and provides guidance on what’s needed from your final software solution.

Project schedule

A project schedule is a timetable that defines project start and end dates, as well as the project milestones. Clients usually combine this with the work breakdown structure in order to easily create a timeline. Use this section to mention:

  • Time: required for completing the tasks you’ve outlined
  • Milestones: that the software developer must meet to complete the project on time
  • Resources: to mention teams and tools that you will need to complete the project successfully

While the length of this section is flexible, it’s best to talk to clients to understand their preferences. A software development vendor usually uses one of these three project management schedules:

  • Master project schedule: to offer a high-level overview of key task duration. It includes major deliverables, work breakdown structure, and important milestones.
  • Milestone schedule: to track major progress but not every deliverable status. It divides the entire project into major phases using milestones.
  • Detailed project schedule: to monitor the status of every project element. It includes project tasks and resources crucial for project completion.
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Payment terms and conditions

This is where you mention the payment model, terms, and conditions. Most of this section depends on what you’ve discussed with the client during initial conversations. 

You can use this space to outline accepted payment methods, milestones, and ways to resolve payment disputes. 

Bonsai top tip: Use a ready-to-go software development invoice template when it comes to requesting payment.

Project acceptance and change control

This is the last section of the statement of work. Project acceptance criteria acknowledges that a software developer has enlisted key project deliverables and met any other project requirements. 

You can also use this section to specify change control methods, including uses of change implement management software and the process for dealing with change requests.

Once your project is accepted, it’s time to formalize everything in a software development contract.

Creating an SOW for Software Development is Simple with Bonsai


If you’re stuck figuring out how to write a statement of work, Bonsai’s here to help. Create a stellar software developing SOW with thousands of ready-to-use, customizable, and free templates available on Bonsai. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Sign up for free to Bonsai
  2. Select a software development SOW
  3. Edit and customize your SOW

Once you create a statement of work using the free templates available, you can send it to a client, get it signed, and manage it without ever leaving the platform. 

Software development SOW FAQs


What is a software development SOW?

A software development SOW is a legally binding document that acts as a guideline during project execution. It contains project activities, deliverables, timelines, and payment terms. 

Consider using a free template on Bonsai to create a software development SOW. It’s simple and customizable to ensure you’ve covered all bases.

What does a software development SOW contain?

The key sections to include in software SOW are:

  1. Project background
  2. Project objectives
  3. Scope of work
  4. Project requirements
  5. Project schedule
  6. Payment terms
  7. Project acceptance
  8. Project change control
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