What is a statement of work agreement?
A statement of work contract—sometimes called a scope of work contract, or SoW—is a contract between a freelancer and their client.
A SoW is an essential project management tool that gathers and defines every aspect of project scope.
This detailed document acts as the foundation of any successful project, outlining responsibilities, activities, milestones, and deliverables. It's used by project managers, project team members, and freelance service providers.
Sometimes referred to as a master services agreement, this project management tool often replaces a formal agreement and is particularly useful when working with non-profit clients.
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Why you need a statement of work
The statement of work acts as a detailed overview of a project; it's perfect for a project manager—be it in-house or freelance. It also functions to share detailed tasks in project roadmaps, define success, and give a clear work breakdown structure. All project objectives, the project budget, and expected outcomes should be detailed in your statement of work too.
As a freelance service provider, your statement of work is a valuable document when it comes to managing a project from start to finish, sharing the project's goals with the client and their team members, and outlining key performance indicators that will let you know if you're on track to hit those goals.
The SoW helps you avoid conflicts, minimizes errors, and keeps everyone on the same page throughout. It's an essential document for any contractor.
What should be included in a statement of work agreement
Not to be confused with a project charter, this project management document should include the following sections.
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.
Detailed descriptions of the work
In project management, it's so important to give a clear overview of everyone's roles and responsibilities. This doesn't just mean your responsibilities, but every stakeholder involved. Even if stakeholders work together normally, their roles and responsibilities need to be defined for this specific project.
This is especially important for software development projects. List each deliverable for the project and its ideal release. Go through the entire project timeline and describe each deliverable in as much detail as possible.
Following the web design example, you should outline the style of the template, color scheme, whether copywriting is included—give a total narrative description. The best practice is to mirror the agreed-upon brief and project statement so that both you and your client are on the same page.
Delivery milestones and timeline of work
The perfect chapter to follow deliverables is the project timeline of all the deliverables, including due dates of actual tasks and their subtasks.
- When do you aim to have first renditions, drafts, or tasks completed?
- When will the project manager need to be available to review work?
- When do you plan to have the successful completion of the entire project?
Answer all time-dependent questions here.
Your payment details should follow standard uniform contract format examples and include all of the payment details you need.
- Billable hours
- Payment terms and conditions
- Invoicing details
- Payment dates and milestones
Unlike a project charter document, your statement of work document can be a legally binding agreement, so payment details are critical to include.
Your final contract needs a cancellation clause. Unfortunately, this project may get canceled—for numerous reasons. Here you'll need to outline the conditions for canceling the contract and how either party needs to give written notice.
Termination of contract
Your statement of work also needs to include what either party needs to do in the rare instance that you need to terminate a contract immediately. Here, list any work documents that need to be returned, software development tools that need admin rights revoked, project members to be contacted, and the formal document that needs to be delivered to demonstrate a legally binding termination of the agreement.
Lastly, close out your statement of work with any extras. If you're delivering a digital document, it may be a good idea to hyperlink out to other important documents here, like:
- The project charter document
- The client purpose statement
- The project statement
- Key guidelines
- The quality statement
- The work outline
- Any other applicable documents relevant to this particular project
The section of your statement of work agreement could also include any tools you may need access to and response liabilities.
Sample statement of work template
Your statement of work template agreement is ready for you. Whether you have a software development project, freelance writing services, or something else, this statement of work template has the bare bones of what you need to customize for your specific use case.
What's the benefit of using Bonsai instead of editing a template yourself?
Putting together a detailed contract is a lot of work. You'll need to include things like billable hours, due dates, performance objectives, a deliverables schedule, and so much more.
All Bonsai contracts have done the bulk of the work for you, using the precise language needed for the contract to be legally binding. All you need to do is adapt the template for your own use.
How to create an SoW contract template with Bonsai
Creating an SOW contract in Bonsai can be done in a few clicks. Once you've set up your account, you'll have the option to start a contract from scratch or work from a pre-made template that's specific to your service.
All Bonsai contracts are legally vetted, so all you need to do is add specific details to you and your client. Next, you can download your contract as a PDF or send it via the Bonsai platform.
Statement of work agreement FAQs
Is a statement of work a legal contract?
A statement of work is not traditionally a legal contract. However, that doesn't mean it can't be. It depends on the wording you include in your statement of work and whether or not both parties sign the document.
What is a statement of work used for?
A statement of work comes after the project charter. A statement of work covers the more detailed tasks of a project. It gives a clear overview of the key elements needed to make the project a success, performance metrics, scope creep, and covers specific tasks for different stakeholders.