Every project that involves more than one person should have a scope of work, or SOW. Even very small projects, say under $500, 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.
Brief — This is simply a short summery 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.
Deliverables — This is what the designer will hand you when the project is complete. Some examples would be concept sketches, manufacturing documentation, 3D models, or renders. For the job to be complete, everything listed here must be provided.
Requirements — Technical requirements, specifications, product features, manufacturing considerations, costing, and other related details all are included here. Only quantifiable things should be here. “Looking nice” isn’t a requirement you can quantify while “Water proof” is. This is also where specific tasks can be outlined, depending on the project.
Timeline — 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. It can be estimated or exact, we know life happens but keep things 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 areas cover what is commonly considered 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.