Contract statement of work

The contract statement of work (SOW) is based on specific elements listed in the project scope statement and becomes part of the contract once signed. Until the contract is signed, the contract statement of work remains a live document and can be revised during the procurement process. Each contract statement of work describes an item or service being purchased by the buyer, and is based on information extracted from the project scope. The document must be complete and clearly defined, but the level of detail should reflect the requirements of the work involved. It needs to provide enough detail to enable prospective sellers to decide whether they are capable of delivering the item or service. Building an extension to a school will require a lot of information detailing which building regulations to comply with, together with the specifications of materials to be used. A much less detailed document would be required if you wished to purchase some expertise for the project. The contract statement of work should also include requirements about attendance at meetings, reports to be presented and the distribution of letters and e-mails. If these points are missed, or are not covered in the correct level of detail, trying to get them added to the contract at a later stage will result in extra costs.

PMI says

'Contract Statement of Work is a narrative description of products, services, or results to be supplied under contract.' PMBOK Guide (p.355)


There are three main types of contract statements of work, but selection will be dependent on the nature of the work involved:

  • Performance expresses what the product is required to achieve, rather than detailing how the work is to be done or what its design should be.

  • Functional expresses the end purpose or result of the work. It is used in the performance of the work, or it could include the minimum essential characteristics of the product.

  • Design expresses exactly what work is to be undertaken, such as build to this drawing.

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Definitive Guide to Project Management. The Fast Track to Getting the Job Done on Time and on Budget
The Definitive Guide to Project Management: The fast track to getting the job done on time and on budget (2nd Edition)
ISBN: 0273710974
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2007
Pages: 217
Authors: Sebastian Nokes
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