SOW Template & Writing Guide

SOWWritingGuide_image What is a Statement of Work?

Within an RFP/Contract, the Statement of Work (SOW) defines the tasks to be accomplished and/or the services to be delivered by the selected contractor. A well-written SOW is the cornerstone of an effective RFP, and is essential to the management of a sound contract and the mitigation of contracting risks. Within most public sector organizations in Canada, operational program managers are responsible for developing SOW’s, not the procurement specialists.

Why are Statements of Work so difficult to write?

  • Complexity- SOW’s are unique to each contract and can vary significantly depending upon the type of work required, the duration and the contract mechanism being established.
  • Risks - the operational, financial, legal, contractual and reputational risks of a poor SOW can be very serious.
  • Expertise - qualified writers who understand the operational, financial and contractual requirements of a compliant and enforceable SOW are in short supply.
  • Time - the procurement process can never move fast enough for public sector program managers, and the development of a good SOW can be a very time consuming process.
  • Few rules and no roadmap - there are few clear rules or standards in place within the public sector to define what a good SOW looks like, or how to write one.

Public sector organizations face many unique challenges in the area of procurement. They have a large number of diverse programs, responsibilities and employees across Canada. To a great extent, procurement requirements are also largely “event-driven”, and in some cases (but not all) these events can and do occur on very short notice. Foreseen or unforeseen, when these events do occur they typically generate substantial amounts of procurement activity in an environment of extreme urgency and priority.

Public sector program managers have an important job to do and critical programs to deliver. Canadians expect a great deal from them, and they operate under high degrees of pressure, urgency and scrutiny. Many program managers do not feel that they have adequate time or training to consider the many facets of public sector procurement policy. For some, the procurement process is often viewed as an impediment or an obstacle preventing them from getting on with their job.

When there is a program or event to be delivered, time is limited and procurement requirements have not been planned in advance (for any reason), there is a strong impulse among some managers to take whatever measures they can to by-pass or look for shortcuts around the procurement process, and simply get it done as quickly and expediently as possible. And this is precisely where the majority of procurement risks emanate from. When shortcuts get taken; when full compliance with the rules is sacrificed in the name of expediency;

when an open, fair, transparent and competitive selection process is by-passed in favour of a sole source contract, an Advance Contract Award Notice (ACAN), an amendment or some other similar mechanism, these decisions can almost always be identified as the leading cause of potential procurement risks to the department.

So, what does a good Statement of Work look like?

To answer this question,RFPSOLUTIONS INC.developed theStatement of Work (SOW) Writing Guide®document in an effort to assist public sector employees with the demands of the competitive procurement process, and in particular the demands associated with writing Statements of Work. Our hope is that it is of some benefit to managers in their efforts to meet operational procurement needs, while at the same time balancing the need to ensure compliance with the spirit and intent of public sector contracting policies.

This free 30-page document goes far beyond typical 2-3 page SOW templates, by identifying the essential messages to be conveyed within each numbered section of a standardized SOW. The SOW Writing Guide is based on best practices from across the Canadian public sector, and includes a helpful checklist of reminders, do’s and don’t’s.

RFPSOLUTIONSdeveloped theSOW Writing Guide®as a Companion document to the Canadian Institute for Procurement and Materiel Management (CIPMM) Course: How to Write Better RFP Statements of Workand is officially recognized for credit by the Government of Canada’s  Canadian General Standards Board - Procurement Certification Program.

To download a copy ofRFPSOLUTIONS 'SOW Writing Guide® , click on the links below.

TheSOW Template and Writing Guide®is available in Adobe PDF format, you may need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader from Adobe Systems Incorporated.

SOW Writing Guide®[607 K] [Author:RFPSOLUTIONS INC. ]

TheSOW Writing Guide®is also available 'en Français.'

Guide de rédaction d’énoncés de travail[674 K] [Author:RFPSOLUTIONS INC. ]

SOWWriting Guide ®has been viewed more than 250,000 times!

Who uses the SOW Writing Guide®?

•  Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Portfolio - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

•  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District - Washington, DC, U.S.A.

•  City of Albuquerque, DFAS Information Systems Division - Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A.

•  Shenkar College of Engineering and Design - Ramat Gan, Israel

•  U.S. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior

•  Pennsylvania State, Dept of General Services, Bureau of Procurement - U.S. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

•  Library of Parliament - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

•  NSW Department of Education & Communities - Sydney NSW, Australia

Any errors or omissions are the sole responsibility of the author. Questions or other enquiries may be directed to:

301-1150 Morrison Drive
Ottawa, ON K2H 8S9
Telephone: (613) 728-1335
Facsimile: (613) 728-6565
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