A statement of works is a document that provides a definition of the project requirements. These requirements are captured through a proper description of the works, the project timelines, performance criteria, the project deliverables and the skills required to execute the project. Azcentral.com say that this information is very helpful to the contractor who will be invited to prepare cost estimates, write a proposal or quotation for the project.

However, before we dig deep into writing a statement of works for a construction project, let us first demystify a project and project management.

Definition of a Project

As defined by the project management institute (PMI), a project is a temporary endeavour that has a defined beginning and end time and consumes resources with the aim of achieving a specific goal. It can also be seen as a planned set of interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period of time and within limitations of cost and budget, as defined by BusinessDictionary.com.

What is Project Management?

According to the Association of Project Management, the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experiences to achieve project objectives is the best definition of project management. Project Managers are therefore individuals with a professional training to apply project management processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experiences in coordinating project activities to meet specific project requirements.

Five main process underpin the practice of project management. These processes are; initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling and closing.

The initiation process involves determining why a project is necessary, capturing project requirements, specifying quality of the deliverables, and estimating resources and timelines. It is this process that encompasses the definition of scope of works or the statement of works. At this point, therefore, we can go ahead and look into what a statement/scope of works is.

What is a Statement of Works?

The main job of the project manager is to optimise the allocation of scarce economic resources to meet the objectives of the project. These objectives are outlined in project documentation at the onset of the project. As part of project documentation, a statement of works (alternatively, scope of works) document is created to initiate the project.

According to wrike.com, a statement of works is a formal document that defines the entire scope of the work involved for the project with a clear outline of the deliverables, outcomes, costs and timelines. They further argue that this document is created as part of a contract.

Plan.io suggest looking at a statement of works as a map that guides the completion of any project. It is a very important document to the project manager, especially in the case where the project manager’s organization is collaborating with other parties outside the organization.

In construction project management, the statement of works is a document that outlines the specific work items that need to be executed for the project to be delivered. It can better be described in the form of building specifications or a bill of quantities that contains the key work elements and the specific work items that form the element. The only distinguishing factor from those documents is that it specifies the start and end dates for each task that is supposed to be done.

For example, let’s say the project is construction of a retaining wall. The statement of works is supposed to be detailed enough and capture the full scope of what the contractor is expected to do to deliver the final product. In this case, it may include things like site clearance, excavations, laying formwork in position, cutting and tying reinforcement bars, pouring concrete, among other activities.


What to Include in a Statement of Works

Given that the statement of works forms one of the main basis of the contract between two organizations, it is important that the project manager makes clear all the project expectations and that it is agreed upon with the contractor. It should be clear from the onset of the project what the contractor is going to be doing.

From previous works done by other authors, the following were identified as the most important ingredients of an effective statement of works:

  1. Problem Statement – This should cover the problem you are facing, clearly stated, including how you want to achieve the project. It is a description of the problem that you want to solve. Is it a leaking roof that you want to repair, or a cracked perimeter wall that you want to restore? These details should be well captured.
  2. Deliverables – These are the things that you want to achieve at the end of the project. It is as simples as what I want to achieve is completion of a three-bedroom bungalow. If you are a student starting a study project, you could have your deliverable as: I want to be proficient in Archicad drafting and 3D design, for example.
  3. Glossary – This is the section the project manager should include the definitions of all the technical terms used in the document. Also, where acronyms and abbreviations are used, they should be given their intended definition in this section.
  4. Tasks – The SoW should list the specific tasks that need to be done for the project to be achieved.
  5. Payment Information – This will include how much the client is willing to pay for the project. For a construction project, the total project cost should be known and if possible broken down to the specific elemental costs.
  6. Project Management – This section is basically a description of the management duties, how payments will be processed, who is in charge of what, and the details of general contracts administration and time management.
  7. Timelines – This is one of the most important details in a statement of works. The specific project deliverables and their timelines should be clearly stipulated before the contract is entered into. The contract timelines should specify the project start and finish dates.

The above are some of the details that should be included in a statement of works. However, the list is not exhaustive. There are other factors to be considered depending on the type of the project and the project requirements.

Having said that, it is important that the statement of works is written in a clear and unambiguous way to avoid misinterpretation which can fuel disputes between the parties entering into a contract. In construction, the SoW should capture all those details without duplicating information that is already included in the standard form of contract adopted by the contracting parties.

Requirements for an Effective Statement of Works

As we conclude our discussion on writing a statement of works for a construction project, here are a few considerations that you should make to make sure that your statement of works is effective and serves the purposes it is intended to.

The project manager or the individual tasked, in the organization, with the duty of drafting the SoW should make sure that they capture all the details without making assumptions, define any terminology and technical terms that are used in the document, define what a successful project should be like and make sure to use visual aids when describing things to make it easier for it to communicate better.

This is just one approach to handling the task of writing a statement of works. I am sure that you might have come across other approaches or you have developed a customized approach for your organization. Please leave your comments and let us know how we can write more effective statements of works for our projects and improve on project management.