Being able to deliver effective and clear project management is absolutely crucial to the success of any company. Alongside effective and clear communication, one of the most important parts of delivering successful project management includes the delivery of a scope of work.
A scope of work is usually written when one party (whether this be an employee, a new hire or a third-party client) is asked by another party, usually a project manager representing a company, to complete a specific task.
But, what actually is a scope of work, why is it essential, how do you write one, what are the best templates and what digital tools can you use to make the process easier? We’ve broken down the answer to all these questions and more to help show you how to write a scope of work.
A scope of work is fundamentally a project management document. It aims to lay out the terms of a project, including what tasks need to be carried out over a select period of time in order for a particular project to be successfully completed.
It also serves as an agreement between the two parties involved, as clear deadlines and budgets are set within the scope of work that outline the expectations of what will be required from the person(s) delivering the project.
A scope of work is different from a statement of work, as it tends to focus on one specific project. On the other hand, a statement of work builds on the scope of work and serves as more of a contract than a project management tool.
A scope of work is really useful for project management in any company, and this is due to three main reasons.
The first is that it allows for a written record of expectations. Especially when you’re hiring outside your own team for a project, it is really important to have a written record.
This details what you expect from who you’re working with, such as the project deliverables and the time in which you expect tasks to be completed. This can help to make the working relationship between two parties stronger, as each knows what to expect from the other.
The second is that it helps to keep projects on track. Running a business and overseeing many projects can be overwhelming. Using a scope of work, you can set clear deadlines for each project. Therefore, this reduces the risk of projects overrunning.
The final reason why a scope of work is so important is to do with ensuring the finances are in order. By setting a clear budget within the scope of work, with projected expenditure already prepared for, it is less likely that the company will be hit with unforeseen costs which can put a strain on any business.
Now that we have established what a scope of work is and why it is really important to project management in any company, here are our five steps for how to write a scope of work.
The first step to writing a scope of work is to meet with the people(s) who will be delivering the project. In this initial meeting, discuss the aims and expectations of the project and begin an open and honest dialogue with the client.
Some questions to consider during this stage would be gauging the number of hours the client would be expected to work during the delivery of the project, discussing the resources they may need in order to complete it, and asking if they had any queries regarding the project outline as a whole.
From this discussion, you can begin to build the foundation of the scope of work, as there will be an honest and open dialogue between the two parties on how to best deliver the project.
Now onto actually writing the scope of work. The first thing to include would be the project overview.
A project overview simply sums up the aims of the project in a few sentences. It will explain what the aim of the project is and what the final product will be. It may also explain who will be working on the project.
Once you have written the project overview, you need to show how this project will be delivered.
Make a list of all the tasks that need to be completed in chronological order, and chart out how the completion of these tasks will lead to the project deliverable.
This stage needs to be concise but clear, there is no point listing every small task that a client may end up doing in order to complete a particular job. Rather, focus on the big things that they need to do in order for the project to move forward.
Here, you may also indicate what applications and resources they may need to use for each task.
After discussing the specific tasks, you will then need to set clear deadlines for each task as well as for the project as a whole.
A good way to do this is by using a Gantt Chart, which is a really visual way to create a timeline for each individual task within the overall project all in one place. There are many online applications you can use to create this, see later in this blog for more information.
You may also want to come up with a “Plan B” for if a particular task overruns and delays the project as a whole, and also set out points within the project where the client will be asked to report on their progress and show that they are on schedule.
Once you have written the scope of work, it is imperative that you return back to the people(s) who will be delivering the project. Take them through the scope of work and make changes based on the honest feedback received.
Consider whether the deadlines you have set are realistic, and gauge how confident the client feels about delivering the project now that the scope of work has been written.
Once all parties are happy, have everyone sign the scope of work, and then the project can get underway.
When writing a scope of work, there are many digital tools that you can use to help make the process easier, including some websites that offer scope of work templates. Here are some of our top recommendations for digital applications to help write a scope of work.
Slite: Slite offers a free scope of work template which goes through all the things that you need to include within the scope of work, as well as including a pre-made table which makes the task listing process a lot easier.
Plan.io: Plan.io also offers a free scope of work template as well as a really useful blog which details the main things to include within a scope of work which will make the writing process so easy.
Template Lab: On Template Lab, there are 40 templates for a scope of work which are categorised by specific industry and the type of project you want to deliver.
Project Manager: Serves as a real time project software where you can track and report on progress. Offers a Gantt Chart template.
Todoist: A task management application which offers an overview of everything that needs to get done within a given project. You can schedule events, change the priority level of tasks, share tasks across teams and use the automatically generated progress reports to see how the project is coming along.
Trello: Another task management application which is extremely visual in showing the completion of tasks as they move from ‘to do’ across into ‘done’.
ClickUp: An integration application that integrates all your apps into one place where you can then set tasks and use these apps to achieve them effectively.
A scope of work is essential to any successful project management delivery. Writing a scope of work which sets out clear expectations for what a project will entail and when each task must be completed is absolutely key to the success of any project.
When writing a scope of work, you will benefit from using technology. Whether this is online templates to actually write the scope of work or by using applications that assist with project management, online technology is crucial in managing this effectively. With our beta, you can automatically get updates from your project management software alongside all your other applications.You can sign up for early access here.
Have you ever written a scope of work? What part of writing it did you find the most challenging, and what digital tools did you use to make it easier? Let us know by sending us a message on our Twitter or LinkedIn.