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5 Steps To A High-performing Statement of Work

What to put in your SOW and how to structure it for success

A request for proposal can be a very confusing document. If written poorly, vendors will not want to bid on your project. Writing a clearer scope of work can help ensure that a project turns out successful.

A high-performing statement of work (SOW) should demonstrate what a successful project will look like. It should describe what outcomes and achievements need to take place in order to make you — the facility manager — 100 percent satisfied. A good SOW ensures that all vendors propose a proper solution that meets your needs.

So how do you accomplish that? In this 20-minute video, Dr. Jake Smithwick, Professor at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, breaks down the 5 steps that make up the structure of a high-performing statement of work.

Here’s a preview:

Let's go through the structure of a high performing statement of work. Let's go step by step here and walk this through and explain what this actually entails.

There's really five main things that we need to think about for a high performing statement work.

  • The overview
  • The future state is number two
  • Itemized requirements
  • Schedule and budget
  • And then lastly is any unique consideration
  • We're going to break these down one by one here and provide some very specific things that when you have to go out and buy your next service or RFP, we can actually understand what we should be thinking about.

    This first one, the overview and purpose, this is basically the what and the why. Everybody has heard the five w's before. Well these are the first two: what are we looking to buy and why are we doing that. When you think about how to structure this very first part of the overview, I would do just a couple sentences, maybe a paragraph or two that just simply describes “here's what we're looking to get.”

    I have talked with a lot of suppliers and contractors over the years and they have said that “if the owner would just take a minute and provide to us just a very high level summary of here's what we're looking to buy, that would really help us out.” In fact, what we should do is put together a statement of here's what we're looking to buy and then take that paragraph and give it to somebody else that doesn't know anything about the project and see if they have an overall understanding of what you're looking to purchase. That's a really good gut check that what you've written here at a very high level is is understandable. It's not technical. It's not jargon. It's a very simple summary of here's what we're looking to buy with this particular project.

    Your purpose is your goals, objectives, and motivation — in other words: what are the business drivers for your organization looking to buy on this RFP? Why are you doing this in the first place? So it can be a lot of different things. Let's take roofing as an example. Are you looking to install shingles on the roof or are you looking to waterproof your building? Obviously our goal here when we buy a new roofing system is to not just put on shingles for the sake of shingles, but what you want here is no leaks in your building. So your goals here should be described that we want a waterproof facility. We want a clean highly professional looking building and not just hiring somebody to do that. Think about the goals of what you're trying to get at the end of the day.

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