What is a Statement of Work?

A statement of work (SoW) is a legal document that charts the entire landscape of a working project. Having this in place allows everyone - from the client to the project manager, team members and external vendors - to have a clear vision of the deliverables. It safeguards both the agency and the client.

SoWs are detailed, legally binding and clearly define the amount of work to be delivered in exchange for a specified amount of money.

Purpose and benefits of Statement of Work.

Successful projects need a clear blueprint. A document of this kind clearly defines requirements, milestones, timelines and essential components needed to make it a success. Every project manager and team member should review this file to fully understand the timescales for working towards the overall aims.

The purpose of the statement of work is to clearly communicate and set clear goals. It's a way to share with the team what's expected of them, project requirements and quality benchmarks, not to mention the payment terms for contracted workers.

What to include in a statement of work.

A detailed SoW can include:

  • Scope of work
  • The purpose of the work
  • Timelines and deadlines
  • Expected deliverables
  • Accepted criteria
  • Software and hardware required
  • Performance standards to be met
  • Signatures of both parties

All the elements should come together to outline every detail involved in a project.

Three businesspeople compare notes happily in front of three computer monitors.

Benefits of Statement of Work.

A file like this is an essential document for all parties. It removes the room for misunderstanding between clients and vendors regarding work and payment. In fact, there are various benefits to having a statement of work.

Detailed deliverables.

Unless the work is clearly defined, the scope can often unintentionally get stretched, resulting in clients expecting (or asking for) more work for the same pay.

For example, say you've been hired to create a micro-web wireframe. You quote a price for just the wireframe and it's what you deliver. However, your client asks for a complete mockup with a sample design and content.

Having a legal document outlining the deliverables means there's no room for this kind of misunderstanding. Both the client and vendor are clear about the nature of work and payment and both parties know what they are getting.

Clear schedules.

Detailed SoWs clearly define a due date for the deliverables and often have project timelines.

Detailed payment structure.

A section of the SoW should clearly define the terms of payment. This explains when the payment will be made - ahead of the work, periodically during the job or on completion of the work. It should also say how and where the payment will be made - for example, electronically wired to the vendor's UK bank account.

This means that any cash-flow, billing or financial considerations can be addressed when the work is sold in, allowing both client and vendor to proceed in the way that works best.

Guidelines and Examples. How to Create a Statement of Work.

One woman and two men in a boardroom discussing a project.

This means that any cash-flow, billing or financial considerations can be addressed when the work is sold in, allowing both client and vendor to proceed in the way that works best.

Looking for templates that suit your project management needs?

Try our Statement of Work templates to detail everything a project entails. Use these Scope of Work templates to clearly lay out work for your client.

Statement of Work Templates
Scope of Work Templates


Begin by writing about the nature of the work and what's expected.


This section should clearly address questions like:

  • What is this project for?
  • What are the goals that we're trying to achieve?

Scope of Work.

As the name suggests, this should sketch the details of work that needs to be done - what, how and when?

Some managers will include details of software and hardware that need to be used too.


This is important as it discusses where the work needs to be done. Will it be work-from-home or the office? If outsourced, mention the city and country where the work will be done. If the project can be conducted remotely, mention that.

Confidentiality and security.

Many online jobs demand total confidentiality, especially in tech and marketing companies. Highlight that and mention your access to secure servers if the client requires that you use them.

Deliverables and milestones.

Clearly define the deliverables. Mention what needs to be delivered and within what time. It’s good practice to include a schedule detailing each job, with a specific due date. Not all SoWs detail milestones - it depends on the project and tasks.


This important section details the project’s schedule and outlines the time by which tasks should be delivered. It also includes the projected completion date and all other key dates for deliverables.


Mention if there are standards and tests that the job must meet.

Success criteria.

Talk about what's expected of the deliverables to meet 'success criteria’ or specific KPIs (key performance indicators).

Payment detail.

Payment should be outlined in detail - what will be paid and when. Will the payment be made before or after the deliverables have been submitted? Is there a review process before the payment is made or released? These questions are important to answer early.


Anything that you think will add value to the project management should be included in this document. For example, specific tools that should be used, updates that should be given or meetings to be scheduled in and paid for.

A screenshot of an Adobe Statement of Work template.

Best Practice: Statement of Work Writing Tips.

Looking to write a statement of work? These top tips should help to get you off to a flying start.

Clearly define industry terms.

It's best to avoid jargon as much as possible. Write in plain language and try to avoid anything that would warrant further explanation - unless you plan on providing one. If you are using terminology, try to clearly explain what things mean. Write in a conversational tone as much as possible.

Imagery and Graphic Elements.

Insert screenshots, images and graphic elements wherever appropriate. These are great for clearly indicating important things, like how the final version of work should look like, how spreadsheets should be organised etc.

The payment will be made ahead of the work, on completion or after the review process.

Things to keep in mind when writing a statement of work:

  • Keep the document in a secure file format.
  • Create a realistic timeline that you can meet.
  • Note any special requirements.
  • Mention client requirements.
  • Specify project management tools and reporting.
  • Run the SOW past your team members.
  • Specify tools for Project management, emailing, chat collaboration, reporting etc.

Example of a Statement of Work.

Every document looks different. The look and size will depend on the industry, project, scope of work, vendor and more. The scale and depth of the project will often decide how the final file will look.

Some examples of specialist areas that can provide specific examples include:

Web design and development.

When working with digital deliverables, it’s essential to have a detailed checklist of the work that has to be delivered. That’s because digital work like this is often done in iterations.

A SoW is a great way to establish what’s expected from the vendor and when. Due dates, timelines and milestones will also let both parties know when and how to anticipate the work to be delivered.

Events planning.

In this industry, a file should outline all the requirements in detail, whether corporate or personal. This will help the event organiser to know precisely what’s expected and deliver accordingly.

Statement of Work FAQs.

What's the difference between a scope of work and a statement of work?

Even though both 'Scope of Work' and 'Statement of Work' are related and often both abbreviated as ‘SoW’, there are differences. Scope of work defines a project’s goals and provides a detailed outline of work expected to be done within a specific timeframe.

Statement of work, meanwhile, means a comprehensive blueprint that details the deliverables, requirements, timeline and goals - in essence, a detailed narrative of the project.

How detailed should a statement of work be?

How detailed your SoW needs to be will depend on the industry and the project. If you're hiring a freelancer for a particular job, then it can be relatively short and straightforward. You can browse Adobe's gallery of free statement of work templates to get started.

A screenshot of an Adobe Statement of Work template.

Begin writing your Statement of Work with Adobe templates

The Adobe Statement of Work template lets you know what’s needed.

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What kind of format should a statement of work be in?

Given their importance as legal agreements, files should be ideally prepared as a PDF document. They should come across as a clean official paper that can be edited and signed by both parties. You can easily prepare editable PDFs by using Adobe Acrobat.

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