Scope of Work: Definition, Examples, and Template
A scope of work is the document that summarizes project tasks, assignments, and deliverables, and is an invaluable tool in project management.
According to the Project Management Institute, one of the top five reasons for project failure is poor planning. In fact, organizations waste about $97 million for every $1 billion invested, due to this poor planning.
Producing an effective scope of work can guarantee that projects are properly planned and outlined, resulting in less wasted revenue and a higher rate of efficiency.
Read on to find out how to write a scope of work, as well as an example and a scope of work template!
A scope of work is an agreement of the work needed for a project. It brings together all the most important elements of your project foundation, including tasks, assignments, and deliverables. They define what needs to be done in order to reach the project goal.
A statement of work (SOW) is an all-encompassing document that lays a foundation for your project. The contents include goals, timelines, schedules, payment agreements, etc. But most importantly, your SOW consists of a scope of work.
When it comes to the difference between SOW and scope of work, there is a debate within the creative industry. Some argue that they’re identical documents, and others allege that they’re interconnected but still different.
We like to think of it like this: a scope of work is a section within your statement of work. Your SOW lists out all the criteria to make a project successful and your scope of work describes how exactly you’ll accomplish this. For example, if the project goal is to redesign a website, then the scope of work might include detailed information on how to create a new sitemap or better map out an ideal user flow.
Regardless of whether you believe that an SOW and a scope of work are the same or not, we can all probably agree that they both serve a similar purpose, to fulfill the project goals and objectives!
Similar to any product document, every scope of work is unique. Let's dive deeper on the elements that should be included in your scope of work, with examples. Already want to start writing? Try out our easy-to-use scope of work template!
It’s no secret that task management is a fundamental part of any project, especially if your project requires cross-departmental collaboration or multiple stakeholders. That’s why you’ll need to include a breakdown of your project goal into smaller and applicable steps, or tasks, in your scope of work.
To better understand your project tasks, let’s create a hypothetical situation. Say you’re planning a vacation to Australia (uh, wouldn’t that be nice☀️). What needs to be done?
- Apply for a visa
- Book the flight
- Find an Airbnb
- Rent a car
- Plan your daily excursions
These are the things (tasks) that you need to do in order to go on your trip (goal).
Deliverables are the end-product or service of your tasks. In other words, it is what your client will receive at the end of the project.
Using our last example, if your task is finding an Airbnb, a deliverable would be the booking confirmation. You completed this task, and there is a quantifiable service or product. The completion of your tasks and the accumulation of your deliverables make up a finished creative project.
Your deliverables can also be “stacked,” meaning that one deliverable can have its own deliverables. For instance, if the project goal is to build a website, your deliverables might be website wireframe and website mockup.
3. Point of Contact
Another helpful element of a scope of work is point of contact. Who will complete each task? By including a person for each task and deliverable, everyone knows their role in the project, right from the start. This leaves little room for miscommunication and unfinished assignments.
If you use Collato to create your scope of work, you can assign tasks to internals and externals, as well as send reminders so your project is always moving forward.
Watch out for scope creep, the sneaky way a project transforms from one thing to another. Scope creep is defined as “adding features and functionality without addressing the effects on time, costs, and resources, or without customer approval” (pmi.org). It can be the root cause for wasted money, low customer satisfaction, or unreached project goals.
Scope creep happens for a variety of reasons:
- Unmanaged and undocumented collaboration between client and team members
- Lack of a solid initial project scope
- Uninvolved stakeholders
- Poorly defined assignments and requirements
- Unattainable or unrealistic tasks and deliverables
- Overall poor communication and collaboration
While project changes are inevitable, there are a few ways to avoid scope creep.
1. Document everything
Keep a track record of your internal and external interactions, whether that’s through a phone call, an email, or a meeting. This may seem obvious, but if a stakeholder requests a change to a design or a feature, then you want to document that in your scope of work.
If you're using Collato's scope of work template, simply create a card that connects to your scope of work with the request, or embed a live link to the card with the relevant information on whichever tool you prefer to use.
2. Make a schedule
Create a schedule to show any requirements, assignments, or due dates that need to be fulfilled. You can always refer back to this schedule to make sure the project is on its way. You can use Collato's timeline layout to create a schedule, or add a live preview link to your preferred tool in your scope of work card to always have the most up-to-date information at hand.
3. Get sign offs
Make sure your scope of work (and better yet, your statement of work) is signed off by all participating parties. If you notice a stakeholder asking for something more than what was agreed upon, then you can deny the task or create a new project that incorporates it.
That being said, it’s important to add a section within your scope of work called 'out of scope.’ You can add any small assignments or tasks to this section that don’t fit the initial agreement. You can then make a new project or write up a new contact with your client.
Let's look at a very basic example of a scope of work for a trip to Australia:
Project name: Australia Trip 2023
Project summary: We're planning our family trip to Australia in April 2023.
Project timeline: October 2022-July 2023.
Task 1 Description: Apply for a visa
Assigned to: @Stella Stracciatella
Deliverable: Visa for Australia
Due date: November 1, 2022
Task 2 Description: Book the flight
Assigned to: @Christoph Cookie-Dough
Deliverable: Plane ticket to Australia
Due date: December 1, 2022
Task 3 Description: Find an Airbnb
Assigned to: @Maisy Mint
Deliverable: Booking confirmation for Airbnb
Due date: January 1, 2023
Task 4 Description: Rent a car
Assigned to: @Anna Banana
Deliverable: Booking confirmation for car rental
Due date: February 1, 2023
Task 5 Description: Plan daily excursions
Assigned to: @Chico Chocolato
Deliverable: Schedule for daily activities
Due date: March 1, 2023
Of course, a real scope of work will be much more comprehensive and will need more specific details. A scope of work should include, at the very least:
- Project objectives
- Individual tasks
- Payment information
- Expected outcomes
- Terms, conditions, requirements
Writing a scope of work can be pretty dang difficult, especially since it’s such a vital document to your project success. Collato provides you all the tools you need to successfully create a scope of work that fits your individual project. Beautiful schedules, timelines, and task assignments are just the beginning. With Collato, you can take notes, make comments, and record video presentations to get everyone on the same page.
Oh, and don’t forget that you can view every version of a project so you can look back on past feedback and changes. This eliminates any chance of scope creep. 🎉