In a previous post in this series, we covered different request documents that are sent to vendors/partners/service providers such as the request for information (RFI), request for proposal (RFP), and request for quote (RFQ). These request documents all deal with different phases of the pre-procurement process of a technology, system, or application. There is another vendor/partner related document of note that is more geared toward the sales/post sales side of the procurement process. That document is called the statement of work (SOW).
A statement of work (SOW) can be thought of as a project management document. A SOW is generated by a partner organization or service provider when a business is purchasing a solution which includes an implementation effort from the partner organization/service provider. The purpose of the SOW is to paint a clear picture of what the customer is purchasing, and how the partner organization will implement said solution. This gets both parties on the same page to agree upon the work to be completed and the success criteria to ensure that expectations are met. In general, the statement of work will include the following information:
- High level need and scope of the project.
- Detailed steps of tasks to be performed, including the schedule or timeline.
- Success criteria. This should include a clear representation of what “done” means. What has to be completed and agreed upon to consistute a completed project.
- Billing information.
In my opinion, a statement of work (SOW) is not just trivial paperwork. A well done and agreed upon SOW is a vital component of a successul project. We cannot just assume that everyone involved has the same understanding of what needs be done and why. A statement of work displays all of this in writing so that all parties involved have a clear picture of the solution that was purchased, how it will be implemented, and when.