6 Tips for Writing an Exemplary Statement of Work
Because a statement of work (SOW) is essentially a federal agency’s draft order for goods or services, it is crucial that the content of a SOW is explicit ― that no essential details are left out; that no requirements are overlooked; and that no timelines, deliverables, or measurements of success are left open to interpretation.
An exemplary SOW is one that completely describes requirements, is clearly written, and does not have ambiguities or conflicts. It should evoke few offeror questions and result in proposals that do not differ significantly in their content, making the process easier from all perspectives.
Here are six tips to help you craft your next SOW:
Tip 1: Describe what is needed clearly, including the stages of development. Keep in mind that ambiguities increase risk and therefore increase the price.
This example clearly describes the training requirements courses, how they should be developed and modified, and their delivery method.
SECTION 4. STATEMENT OF WORK
4.1 Training Course Development
The Contractor shall develop an instructor-led core training course that can be delivered to the Government. The course will be developed in a manner that can be delivered in a classroom or virtual setting. The learning objectives and course outline are listed in Attachment 2 – Learning Objectives & Course Outline.
The course shall emphasize agency systems and operational environments, including lectures, scenarios, and realistic interactive exercises. It is expected there will be minimal modification/updates to the course lesson plan, study guide, material, and course evaluation survey throughout the contract period of performance due to changing governmental laws and initiatives, participant feedback, industry best practices, and/or changing emphasis on certain areas as required by the Government.
Tip 2: Indicate key personnel needed and any specific requirements.
In our example, the personnel requirements were instructors and a project manager. The specifications given were, “instructors shall be experienced in the instructional topic activities, concepts, and techniques” and the following:
The Contractor shall designate the following positions as “Key Personnel.” Key Personnel’s daily duties will be performed at the contractor facility or on-site as required. The Government deems these positions as critical to the performance of work under this contract. Any proposed substitutes for the individuals occupying this position shall possess qualifications equal to or superior to those of the Key Personnel being replaced.
The inability of the Contractor to provide personnel with equal to or superior qualifications of the key personnel may result in termination of the contract. At a minimum, the individuals occupying the position listed below are considered key personnel for the duration of this contract. The list of key personnel set forth above may be amended from time to time during the contract to add or delete personnel as appropriate.
The key personnel to be assigned to perform hereunder are as follows:
Names of Key Personnel
Tip 3: Describe expectations for the final deliverables.
The following deliverable schedule clearly sets expectations for delivering the training courses described.
Item SOW Section Deliverable Due Date Deliver To 1 4.1 Core Training Participant Guide Within 60 calendar days upon award COR, TPOC 2 4.2 Core Training PowerPoint Slides Within 60 calendar days upon award COR, TPOC
Tip 4: Determine the increments of progress and time that will guide the work, specifying when and in what manner progress and quality will be measured and communicated.
The following excerpt clearly delineates the training’s development, facilitation, and evaluation expectations.
The Contractor shall provide instructors to deliver and facilitate this instructor-led course. The Contractor shall provide course material and presentations to each student for each course session. The course material provided may be used as an on-the-job reference tool.
1. It is anticipated that this course will be approximately 40 classroom hours over five consecutive business days.
2. The course shall accommodate up to 35 students.
3. Training will be held virtually or at various government locations throughout the Washington, DC, area
- Virtual training shall be accessible via the internet using a standard browser (Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or Firefox). Recommendations for additional software or hardware will not be accepted.
4. The Government anticipates a minimum of one (1) training session per month.
5. The Contractor shall provide training logistics support to include the following:
- Managing the Class Attendee Lists (both classroom and virtual)
- Preparing printed copies of training materials for the classroom and a PDF version for virtual training
- Setting up training environment(s) to support virtual training activities, as required by the Government
- Setting up user accounts or profiles to support virtual training activities, as required by the Government.
- Providing technical support for virtual attendees.
6. The Contractor shall provide a Training Survey Form to each student at the end of each class to assess the effectiveness of the training. The Contractor shall compile the survey results and document the Training Survey Results findings. This information will be used to evaluate and structure future training needs.
Tip 5: Provide applicable guidelines for travel.
For our training example, the following standard guidance was given.
Other Direct Costs (ODC) Travel
Travel may be required for activities outside the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, not to exceed $15,000. Travel shall be scheduled during normal duty hours whenever possible. The reimbursement of local travel costs is not authorized, and travel costs shall not exceed the obligated funding for travel for this contract.
- All travel must be approved by the Alternate Contracting Officer’s Representative (ACOR) before any travel arrangements. In no way shall travel exceed the available funds identified for travel and ODC.
- Travel must be performed on Government official business (work) days when possible. Travel performed on weekends and/or official federal Government holidays must be approved by the ACOR in writing or via email before making travel arrangements.
Tip 6: List any resources required to achieve the objective and if they will be furnished.
Although none are required for our example, facilities, hardware, software, or other equipment may be necessary to accomplish the desired work. It is important to specify whether those items should come from the contractor or the government.
Above all other requirements, a SOW must be clear and complete. If you would like to see a more comprehensive approach to this subject, we recommend our three-day SOW Workshop. In addition, this course is one of the recommended electives for the following Project & Program Management Certificates:
- Business Analysis & Requirements Management Certificate Program
- Hybrid Project Management Certificate Program
- Program Management Certificate Program
- Agile in Government Certificate Program
Natalie Komitsky is the Content Marketing Manager at Management Concepts. For more than ten years, she has been creating compelling content that tells stories, communicates ideas, and captivates readers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Nonfiction Writing, and Editing from George Mason University.