Getting Down To Business: The Statement Of Work

by Randy Murray on February 1, 2011

If you’re a freelancer, it’s often tempting to enter into work informally, to get right to the job and to deal with things fast. But if you want to prosper as a freelance businessperson, you’ll need to establish some basic practices that will help you to raise the quality of your work, strengthen your client relationships, and keep you protected and profitable.

One of the most important things you can do is to establish a simple Statement Of Work for everything you do.

The Statement Of Work (SOW) doesn’t have to be complex or a lengthy legal document. It simply makes it very clear for both you and your customer exactly what you’ll do for them, establishes clear standards, and defines what your client’s responsibilities are, beyond paying you.

Here’s what you’ll need to include in any SOW:

  1. The project name.
  2. The expected time period for completion.
  3. Project milestones.
  4. The precise deliverables at each stage of the project.
  5. What is required from the client at each stage of the project.
  6. A clear definition of the quality and standards for the project.

Most of my SOWs are a single page. Some cover work that is done over long periods of time, like a retainer engagement. Some cover projects that are completed in days. But the SOW helps my clients measure the value they receive from me. It also protects me from “scope creep.” That means that I’m not suddenly adding additional work for no additional pay.

I highly recommend that you create a simple Statement Of Work and use it on every project.

The Getting Down To Business: The Statement Of Work by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mari February 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Agreed. The upfront clarification of expectations and deliverables makes for a smooth working arrangement. A key inclusion is a statement that any modifications to the described project parameters may necessitate a re-evaluation of the SOW agreement.


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