Scope of Work (SoW) – What Should It Include And Why Is It Important

Conflicts and disagreements never die down in manufacturing projects. As a project manager, it’s always in your best interest if you’re empowered to say, “But it’s what we’ve agreed on…”

A scope of work (SoW) works just fine as your power source.

What is a scope of work (SoW)?

A scope or work, SoW, or sometimes referred to as a statement of work, is an agreement between you and your suppliers on the work to be done.

The scope of work defines more details of what you need to do and what your suppliers need to do, what deliverables are expected, what tasks should be done to support the deliverables, what’s the timetable for the work, what party should be responsible for what work, what criteria will be used to decide the quality of the end results and more.

The scope of work ensures that you and your supplier have a shared understanding of what needs to be achieved in the project and what results are expected.

Why is a scope of work important for your project?

Importance and necessity

For a project manager, it’s not uncommon that you see disagreements and disputes every day. Without a clear scope of work that clarifies the responsibilities and expected deliverables at each stage, that aligns your project expectations at first, you’ll have to spend so much fruitless time on dealing with disputes as they arise.

With a correct scope of work that you can fall back on, such frustration and pains can be eliminated at a large scale.

In a nutshell, a correct scope of work, when used properly, is the best tool that saves you from a world of future problems.

Possible challenges

Why would we say “when use a correct scope of work properly”, it could be the best weapon that saves your from a world of problems? Well, there are so many ways that a scope of work could go wrong. Here are some of the most common challenges when writing the scope of work:

  • Complexity. So far, you should have a gist of how complicated the scope of work might be. In fact, writing an effective scope of work is as close you can get as being a lawyer. The unique project, the type of work to be done, the project duration, and the industry all can add up to the complexity of the scope of work. So in some cases, you may need help from professional consulting partners such as Insight Solutions.
  • Incorrect SOW. The scope of work comes with legal weight. That said, if the financial, operational or legal terms are written improperly, a legal battle could arise, and reputation of the both parties would be at risk.
  • Time consuming. As important and complicated the scope of work is, you definitely don’t want to rush into things and end up spending more time fixing things.
  • Expertise. So far, you should understand that writing an effective and correct scope of work requires you or the other party to have the right expertise. If you’re just a small company, and you don’t have the right resource to work on the scope of work, no need for you to panic. Just reach out to us, and we’ll get you all covered.

What should you include in a scope of work?

When you’re creating a scope of work, you should be careful in that if the scope of work is too vague, too broad or too generic, you might end up spending more time fixing the problems that could generate from the terms.

So what should a scope of work include? What you should absolutely include in the scope of work, and what can be eliminated since they are just a waste of time?

As complicated as the scope of work can be, they share a basic structure. Here are some of the most common elements you should include in your scope of work:

Project objectives or purposes

  • What you want to achieve in the project;
  • What are the goals for the project;
  • How can the project be broken down to actionable and executable tasks;
  • What are expected to be seen as the end results when the project ends.

Project scope

  • To what extent would the project spread;
  • How far will the project reach;
  • What are included in the project, and what aren’t.


  • What are expected in the project;
  • What end results should be delivered;

Detail tasks to support the deliverables, and the owner of the tasks

  • How can the final goals be broken down to actionable tasks and work;
  • What tasks need to be done to ensure the final deliverables;
  • What party should be responsible for what tasks;
  • Who should be the owner of the tasks.

Timeline for the completion of work

  • At what time frame or stage should you expect the tasks to be finished;
  • What room or leeway do you have for the task delivery, for example, how many days can you postpone the tasks.

Criteria used to determine whether deliverables are acceptable

  • What criteria you should use to determine if the deliverables fit your needs;
  • Who should be responsible for deciding the acceptance of the deliverables.

In all, a scope of work can be your best weapon when dealing with project disputes and disagreement, but only when used properly, and you need to make sure that the scope of work is correctly written and define.

If you are not sure what to include in your scope of work, or you receive a scope of work from your supplier, but not sure if it can give you what you need, feel free to reach out. We’d be more than glad to help you out.

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