Business Growth & Strategy

Project Initiation, Part 4 – Achieve Clarity When You Create a Detailed Statement of Work

It is time to move beyond project scoping (when you agreed upon the purpose, goals, and objectives for the project and you created a general summary of the products and services to be provided).  Now is the time to specify detailed expectations in the statement of work.

The Statement of Work

The statement of work fully describes the products and/or services to be produced.  In some cases, lengthy narrative discussions will be required.  Use figures and tables as appropriate.

Attach the scope document (or the project charter if it exists) to supply context and justification.

Provide detailed expectations for each deliverable.

Specify all of the desired attributes for every service to be performed and product to be created, but do not discuss how the work should be accomplished.  The provider will do this later.

When documents are the deliverables.

Provide specific expectations for documents, whether they be reports, training manuals, web pages, databases, construction drawings, specifications, as-builts, etc.  Topics, length, figures, tables, level of detail, and other requirements should be discussed in sufficient detail for the project team to correctly estimate and later produce the deliverables.

Express any assumptions, exclusions from the work, constraints on the part of the customer.

Examples of constraints are stating when the project team will have access to the customer’s facility, employees, and equipment; a system changeover schedule; security and safety hazards; software programs that must be used; etc.

Provide more detail for schedules than the scope.

Specify interim milestones and set deadlines for each of them.  Consider setting deadlines for draft deliverables, reviews, and final deliverables.

Dictate organizational and communication requirements.

Are status reports required daily, weekly, monthly?  Are there required meetings and for what purpose?  Who on the customer side is the point of contact for each issue (this is where the project manager can delegate lines of communication)?

Provide measures of satisfactory performance.

Must the provider develop a formal quality assurance and quality control plan?  What criteria must be met for each element of the project before the customer will accept the work, and what proof must be presented (such as independent reviews, inspections, tests, demonstrations, certifications)?

What the Statement of Work Is Not

The statement of work is not:  a technical or cost proposal; a bid package; a contract; authorization to start work; or a project plan.  All of these items come later in the project life cycle.

A Balanced Project

Every project must balance the concerns of quality, schedule, and budget.  Higher levels of quality cost more to achieve.  Compressed schedules can drive up the cost (a) if you are paying overtime, and (b) if increasing the number of employees drives up time spent communicating along with increasing the time spent on reviews and other quality control efforts.  Although detailed consideration of project balance happens at a later time (during the proposal and planning efforts), at least being aware at this time will help you focus on the documented project needs and intended outcomes, while not including too many “nice-to-haves” that you ultimately can’t afford and/or there won’t be a return on the increased investment.

Next Article in This Series:  Technical and cost proposals. 

Project Management Series: Parts 1-3


About the Author

An engineer by training, Randy Klein has 30 years of consulting experience, 20 of which have included project management duties.  His project management curriculum has been used by a variety of university continuing education departments and private resellers.  He invites your questions and comments related to project management, quality assurance, and organizational improvement.  Contact Randy at (801) 451-7872 or

Category: Business Growth & Strategy

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About the Author: Randy Klein

Randy Klein is a project management expert, certified quality manager, and licensed professional engineer with 30 years of consulting and management experience.  Mr. Klein developed a project management seminar for universities in Utah, Wisc…

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