Technical Specification & Scope Documentation [TechSpec]

At its core, a scope of work is a document that covers the working agreement between two parties. Usually that’s a client (aka you) and an agency, vendor, or contractor (aka the outside team you’re working with).

As a project manager, you’ll use a SOW to make sure expectations are clear and agreed-upon, and that both you and whomever you’re working with know exactly what they should be doing. To make that happen, an effective SOW should include things like:

  • Project objectives: Your problem statement. What is it the issue that you’re facing and what do you want to achieve with this project?

  • Schedule/Milestones: When is the project starting and when does it need to be finished by? What are the major milestones or phases of the project that you’ll be able to track and measure progress by?

  • Individual Tasks: What exactly needs to get done in order to go from where you are now to a finished project?

  • Deliverables: What do you need at the end of the project? Is it simply a .PSD file of the website mockup? Or usable code on a staging server that you can implement when you’re ready?

  • Payment Information: How much is the project going to cost and how are you going to pay the team you’re working with?

  • Expected Outcomes: The answer to your problem statement. Are you looking for an increase in traffic, conversions, or sales? What is the business objective that you want to hit with this project and how will you measure and report on it?

  • Terms, conditions, and requirements: Define the terms you’re using in the SOW and any conditions or requirements that aren’t already made clear.

While a project proposal helps get you buy-in for internal projects, a SOW is used when working with outside teams. Therefore, it needs to be especially clear, use language everyone understands, and set detailed tasks, deliverables, and other services.

A good SOW avoids some of the biggest project management traps, such as:

  • Confusion, miscommunication, and disputes over scope

  • Misinterpretations of expectations and needs

  • “Selective Amnesia” of what was said and the need for expensive rework

It’s a lot to ask. But if you pull it off, an SOW will ensure you, your stakeholders, and the outside teams you’re working with all have a clear idea of what a “successful” project looks like, and how you’re going to get there.