Statement of Work

Posted on May 28, 2009 by

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A Statement of Work (SOW) is a narrative description of the products, services or results to be supplied by a project. The SOW is considered a Project Document—not part of the Project Management Plan. The SOW is written by the project’s sponsor, and then used as an input to the fourth-edition PMBOK®’s Develop Project Charter process, which formally initiates the project. The SOW references three things—the Business Need, Product Scope Description, and Strategic Plan. The Business Need describes why the project is needed. The Product Scope Description contains the details of the product that will be the project’s outcome. How this particular project supports the organization’s Strategic Plan should also be included. When dealing with procurements, a Procurement SOW will be necessary which is the SOW referring only to the part of the project scope that pertains to a particular contract. Time and Materials contracts are especially well-suited to situations in which it’s not possible to have a well-defined SOW. On a smaller scale, a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) Dictionary contains a brief SOW for each component in the WBS. Overall, the SOW describes what work needs to be done and why it is important to perform that work.