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Statement of Work Contract

A statement of work contract (sometimes called a “scope of work” contract, and often abbreviated as “SoW”) is a contract between a freelancer and their client. 

An SoW gathers and defines every aspect of a project. A very detailed document, it acts as the foundation of any successful project, outlining responsibilities, activities, milestones and deliverables.

It’s often used in place of formal agreements and is particularly useful when working with not-for-profit clients.  

1. Why do you need a statement of work contract?

As stated above, the statement of work acts as a detailed overview of a project. It can also function as a way to share important project specifications with key stakeholders. 

And, as a freelance service provider, it’s a valuable document when it comes to managing a project from start to finish. The SoW helps you avoid conflicts, minimises errors, and keeps everyone on the same page throughout.

Image credits: template.net

2. What should you include in your statement of work contract?

Your contract should include the following information:

2.1. Statement/scope of work

This part of the contract summarizes the project. For example: A four-page website design, including templates for Home, About Us, Blog, and Contact. Make the top line clear, concise and easy to understand, but don’t be afraid to go into detail below. Use a section called Project Timeline or Tasks to take your client through the project, step-by-step.

2.2. Deliverables

List each deliverable for the project, explaining what is due and when. Describe them in as much detail as possible. Following our web design example, you should outline the style of the template, color scheme, whether copywriting is included, etc. The best practice is to mirror the agreed-upon brief so that both you and your client are on the same page.

2.3. Delivery milestones

List all of the key dates associated with the project.

2.4. Payment terms

Clearly define your payment terms:

  • Are you charging a deposit and the balance on delivery?
  • How do you wish to be paid?Bank transfer? PayPal?
  • Is there a charge for late payment?

2.5. Closure / termination

Outline how the contract will come to an end, either by the successful completion of the project or by termination by one of the parties. Detail how the contract can be terminated, and under what circumstances.

Image credits: smartsheet.com

3. Writing an effective statement of work contract

Here are our top tips for preparing the best possible template for your business:

3.1. Ask the big question

To get to the heart of the project, be prepared to ask the big question: Why? Why is this project going ahead? Why now? What’s the purpose? What does your client hope to achieve?

By providing clear and thorough answers to these questions, your statement of work contract will morph into the robust and detailed document you require.

We recommend taking the time to write a purpose statement for the project. This is a bit like a mission statement, but it’s more tangible. It’s not just what you’re hoping to achieve with this project, but why you want to achieve it and how you’re going to make it happen. 

3.2. Be as detailed as possible

We’ve touched on this already, but it bears repeating: For an SoW to be truly effective, it needs to be highly detailed.

Even if you think something doesn’t have to be acknowledged in the contract, write it down anyway. There’s no room for being vague or ambiguous when you’re trying to deliver a project. Doing so will only lead to confusion — and potentially conflict — further down the line. 

Describe in detail:

  • Your processes and the steps involved;
  • The hardware and software you require;
  • Any access or resources you need from the client;
  • The dates and timeframes involved;
  • The project outcomes.

Leave no stone unturned and nothing to chance.

3.3. Define what success looks like

To successfully bring a project to completion, both you and your client must be in agreement. To avoid any difficult conversations or push back as you draw things to a close, you should use your SoW to define what success looks like. By agreeing upon this before the project even begins, you and the key stakeholders recognize what you’re trying to achieve, and what it will look like once it’s finished.

Coming back to our web design example from earlier, you should list the key project specifications with a view to ticking each off at the end. I.e. Responsively designed; tested across X number of devices and browsers; internal and external links checked, etc.

Doing this will allow you to meet your client’s expectations, and provide a safety net if they start demanding extra work over and above what you had initially agreed.

Follow these tips and make sure your next statement of work contract helps you deliver your next freelance project on time, on budget, and to the highest possible standards. 

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