Main Elements of a Scope of Work Document

Main Elements of a Scope of Work Document
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What Is Scope of Work?

A scope of work is an important project document that defines the performance requirements of work being executed, to attain the project objectives. The scope of work should be comprehensive, precise, and include all necessary details of the work. This document is required to be studied and examined by several people from diverse environments, including contracting officials, vendors, and the project team. Therefore, elements of scope of work should be prepared carefully to avoid misinterpretation, and have only one meaning. Thus vagueness should be avoided while preparing the scope of work. Developing this document needs the thorough understanding of the work required to be accomplished, since the scope of work will be different for most of the procurement. A scope of work is generally utilized to obtain a range of different services, such hardware and software development and quality management in the construction industry. Thus, a standardized format cannot be used, and only guidelines may be examined for the creation of scope of work.

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Elements of Scope of Work

Project Background: This is a brief description of the organization, and the project objectives. The project purpose, and motives for the development of the precise scope of work, is explained. This portion provides a brief rationale for the scope of work, and the goals expected to be achieved. This assists the vendor to understand the company, and the kind of tasks being undertaken. This section is not very extensive, but the important details are to be included to ensure a clear definition of the objectives.

Deliverables: Deliverables, including their technical specifications in adequate detail, are provided to ensure their provision according to the precise project requirement. A change in program may require the design of application, or a brief description of the effort needed for the development of software. The level of details depends upon the project’s complexity. The scope of work clarifies what is required, and the environment under which the project is functioning. The policies of the organization, and the effect on objectives by achieving the scope of work, are explained. The methodology to be applied for responding to the requirements is explained. The vendor is allowed some flexibility in the preparation of project solution. For example, a scope of work concerning the manufacture of doors will include the kind of doors, hardware to be provided by the contractor, installation arrangements, provision of transport, and other related work conditions.

Cost: The costs have to be described meticulously to avoid subsequent disagreements. Various cost models are used to describe the cost, including fixed cost, time and material, or cost reimbursable. This includes the plan for payments for the work completed.

Schedule: This is an important aspect of the scope of work since the objectives are influenced by the schedule. Progress, or other reports required from the vendor must be included, otherwise he may not be bound to provide, if required.

Elements of Scope of Work

Acceptance Criteria: The acceptance criteria should be described in adequate detail, including the inspection, and tests to be

conducted during this process.

Responsibilities: The responsibilities of the company and the vendor are described in sufficient detail. Conditions under which the vendor may work at the project site are explained, including their responsibilities.

Change Management System: This is important to be included in the scope of work since changes frequently occur, and this portion will facilitate the change control. This should be described clearly to avoid misunderstanding.

Definitions: The words that are commonly used in the contract language are explained adequately, to prevent ambiguity. This improves the common understanding between project team and contractor of the precise project requirements.

Review: The scope of work should be reviewed with the contractor before a contract is awarded to him. This action ensures that the contractor understands, and agrees with the contents.

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Importance of Scope of Work

The preparation of a precise scope of work is vital since it facilitates in the achievement of project goals according to schedule, quality, budget, within the framework of project plans. Most organizations have developed a scope of work template that is used for their project work, and includes appropriate elements of scope of work. However, a meticulously prepared normal scope document may also be used. The preparation of this document compels the project team to thoroughly plan the precise work, and same understanding is communicated to the contractor, without any variation. Since the interpretation of the project team and the contractor is similar, probability of disagreement is remote. However, a carelessly prepared document is likely to create difficulties for the project in terms of cost, scope, schedule, or other aspects. The quality of this document will depend upon the work perception, and the effort applied while preparing it. Most of the dissatisfaction occurs because of a vague scope of work document that has been prepared without much effort. A scope of work document is the origin for the measurement of performance. A deficient scope of work may cause troubles that can produce expensive amendments in a contract. Hard work involved in the preparation, and inclusion of essential elements of scope of work, prevents unnecessary disputes and disagreements.


  • University Of California - Scope Of Work Guide, retrieved at

  • Imam University - Project Management - Scope and Work Breakdown, retrieved at