When you are a freelancer or consultant building anything form WordPress themes to enterprise applications, a Scope of Work (SOW) is going to be your best friend in order to keep “scope creep” to a minimum.
What is a Scope of Work?
First lets start with the basics, what is a scope of work? A Scope of work is simply put a document that explains everything you will be working on during that project. A scope of work can include many things, besides the basics of what you are going to deliver, it may also include communication schedule (meetings), timelines, and even other practices you may have as a business.
To me, a scope of work is the bare bones contract, it states what I will be providing in my time and as a deliverable. I will also include a rough timeline based on an assumed start date, as well as any software I know I will need to use for the project.
Why create a Scope of Work?
SOW’s are by far the easiest way to convey to a client what you are going to be delivering as part of your service. For example if I am tasked to build a theme with a certain piece of functionality, I will make sure that every piece of functionality requested is documented in the SOW so that the client and I are on the same page.
A Final Checklist
Another reason a SOW can be so handy is that if you are working on a project and forget about a piece of functionality that you said you would be coding into the project, and forgot (it happens), a SOW can be that reminder. A few times I’ve been working on a project and even though I like to work closely with my clients, we may overlook a piece of functionality as we are focusing on something else. Its not until I look over the SOW do I realize something may be missing, and I’ll either code it in to meet the requirements of the project, or discuss it with the client.
Many times the project can evolve, and that is fine, but as the project evolves the SOW may need to also. I have had a few experiences where I did not have to code a pice of functionality documented in the original SOW because by the time we noticed it missing, the client was happy and it was no longer needed.
How to create a WordPress Scope of Work
Creating a SOW is not difficult, and I think everyone has a different SOW template, so I’ll just share how I make mine.
The overall structure of my SOW’s are outline based, this makes it easy to see not just all the points being addressed, but also to see a hierarchy of what falls under what. I start with high level items being the most board, for example:
- WordPress Theme
- Custom WordPress Plugin
From there I can start to drill down on the specific
- WordPress Theme
- Custom Theme – Responsive using Bootstrap
- Custom Design – 2 mocks and 3 revisions for each
- General Content Page
- Blog Detail
- Contact Us
- WordPress Plugins
- Caldera Forms
- Yoast SEO
- Custom WordPress Plugin
- User Registration
- User Profile Editing
I try to keep it no more than 3 layers, if I need to get more specific with a piece of functionality I will address that in a paragraph style of text after the outline.
Meeting Business Objectives
Ultimately the goal for me when working with any new client is to make sure I’m meeting the business goals. Usually the conversation about business goals or project goals happens before the SOW, so that way the client and I are on the same page as to why the SOW contains the items it has, and they can connect that to a business goal or objective.
The SOW should be very clear about what is going to be built, and how it will work. Many times “scope creep” comes from a client or consultant assuming something in between the lines, and that miscommunication costs extra time, usually something the consultant needs to end up doing. Make the SOW as specific as possible so that both parties are on the same exact page as to what is going to be delivered.
If you are hiring, get a SOW
If you are looking to hire a freelancer to complete a project, make sure that you have a SOW delivered to you before you pay anything. While a SOW helps protect BOTH sides from a bad deliverable. Make sure the SOW has everything clearly spelled out, and if you do not understand something, ask.
Ultimately a good consultant doesn’t tell you what you need, they give you a solution to a business requirement, and the SOW should reflect the technology needed to meet your business goals.