Every project that involves more than one person should have a scope of work, or SOW. Even very small projects benefit from having one. A good scope of work is a tool that will provide the designer, client, and anyone else involved with a clear vision of what is and should be done and how. A SOW can be simple or complex, depending on who writes it and the project. Here are 4 key parts that should be in every SOW, and 4 things to watch out for.
This is simply a short summary describing what the project is. It should be detailed but concise. A good brief will give anyone a clear picture of what the project is about.
This is what the designer will hand you when the project is complete. Some examples would be concept sketches, manufacturing documentation, marketing plan, website, brand assets, etc. This is everything that must be completed for the job to be considered done.
This is where technical requirements, specifications, product features, manufacturing considerations, costing, and other related details should be included. Only quantifiable things should be here. “Looking nice” isn’t a requirement you can quantify while “Water proof” is. Depending on the project, this is also where specific tasks can be outlined.
The timeline is always important to have as it makes it clear what the expectations are exactly. You could say, I’d like this soon, but that means different things to different people, maybe soon is a day, maybe it’s 6 months. This is a subject for another post, but the basics are you need a timeline, period. If you make it an estimate, rather than exact, just make sure it’s realistic. Also, be weary of timelines that come from designers that seem too good to be true, this either means they are super heroes, they don’t understand the project fully, or don’t have experience in your industry.
These are the most common section of a SOW. In addition to this, some include admin/management information, such as payment, change request process, legal information, points of contact, etc. At our firm, we put everything together into a single document that covers legal, finance, and SOW. There are many ways to do this, and each firm/designer has their own way of writing up the entire starting packet of documents.
While designers love when a client comes to them with a clear SOW, great designers can also work with clients to develop a clear SOW through a process we call a discovery phase. We realize many people developing new products may need help, and a good designer will be able to gather this information and write a comprehensive SOW for you.
Help make sure you stick to the scope of work and read my other post 9 Great Points on Scope Creep!