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A simple guide to writing your first Statement of work

New to agency or freelance and soon to be working on design or creative projects? Shit! And Congrats.

But you might need to put together a statement of work (SOW) sooner or later.

Why is it important to have a SOW document?

Quite often with large scale projects, a lot of emphasis and weight is towards parts like the Strategy, Creative (big) idea, the Technology that will be used and so on. But the one thread that binds them all together (and saves your ass) is a well-written Statement of Work or also known as SOW. (Like the movie SAW or SAO Paulo, don’t know)

Not as scary as the movie though, but quite an important document. So I’ll share some of the quick bullet points on what a good SOW should include, but feel free to add any more details you think are important and tailored to your business or project needs.

So again, why is it important? Simply because misunderstandings are caused by assumptions and expectations. These could be from either side. So, it’s ideal to put it on paper exactly what will be delivered and what are the timelines like.

What should be included in a Scope of work document?

Following are the key points that must be included in your SOW document.

1. What’s your understanding of the problem or ‘ask.’

Explain what you understand from the client’s brief or the highlighted problem. Explain it in a story or bullet point format. If they haven’t mentioned it, ask the question about what they are really wanting to solve or achieve from this project.

2. What’s your proposed solution.

Include the steps you are planning from the ideation all the way to final delivery. How that solution wraps around the stated problem and how you expect that it answers the question.

3. Highlight assumptions.

Part of the proposed solution might also have assumptions. Highlight them clearly as your assumptions to set the expectation right.

4. Your work process and plan

Explain a bit on how you usually work. Your project processes. What steps are included and most importantly the dates or points when you expect stakeholders or client’s input or feedback. Mention the number of days / hours that you have allocated for that feedback time. Of course, it is always better to show this as a timeline.

5. The timelines and milestones

Clearly state what the timelines look like for each part of the delivery and what milestones are being achieved throughout that timeline. This includes dates for each part of the delivery. For example, on the 12th of July, we’ll be sending first round of design to the client and by the 15th Client must comeback with feedback.

6. The total cost of the project

Show a clear breakdown of the total cost. How will it be paid. Do you take any advance payments? Mention that in the payment timeline. Payment terms, refunds? Add it all in here.

7. Extra costs for late feedback or changes.

How will you be tackling additional-to-agreed feedback. What if there’s feedback after approval. Does it include any additional costs? Perhaps a per hour or per day cost? Mention those clearly as that will help your client to avoid run into any surprise costs.


Each project is different in nature. But every task requires an agreed upon and shared understanding between you and the client. To iron out and agree on all these details, it’s essential to create a document that highlights on above mentioned points. The more detailed the better.

Before project kick-off, setup a call and discuss if this SOW is mutually agreed on and understood from the client side too. If they have any questions, it’s great to have them now than later.

Always know, the clients or stakeholders are not there to give you hard time. As a business they want to succeed too. And by setting up a mutually agreed document like this, you’ll make their and your own life and project process a lot of easier.