SOW Software: Purpose, Best Practices + Free Templates

SOW Software: Purpose, Best Practices + Free Templates

Article by DesignRush DesignRush
21
Last Updated: June 15, 2022

A fundamental step in shaping any software development project is writing a Statement of Work document as early as possible.

Having an SOW software development document ensures the legal protection of all parties involved in the project, as it defines all of its crucial aspects, such as the requirements, scope and project objectives.

This detailed elaboration can be considered an action plan for your project and is an essential tool for avoiding later issues or misunderstandings.

To keep track of all your SOWs cost-effectively, you should consider using SOW software. Essentially, SOW software is a computer program designed for hassle-free software configuration management.

If you have multiple active projects running, each of them will have its Statement of Work, and you'll want to establish a process of systematically managing them all.

Now that we've covered the basics and the absolute necessities for running a project, let's take a look at why SOW software is so important in the software development process.

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The Purpose of a Statement of Work (SOW) in Software Development

A statement of work is a business document used for project management purposes. In other words, the purpose of this document is to regulate project-specific deliverables between the outsourcing company and the client.

Ideally, the Statement of Work should include information such as:

  • The project goals that need to be met
  • The full extent of the work that needs to be done, with all the details fleshed out
  • Project schedule, deadlines and penalties for failing to meet them
  • Requirements and responsibilities of the parties
  • Project restrictions
  • Budget and payment details
  • The way of systematically solving any issues that may arise

When done correctly, the Statement of Work will guarantee that your project will be completed according to their expectations and that strict standards and security considerations will be followed along the way.

For this to be possible, SOW in software development needs to be written in a clear, unambiguous, and understandable language.

Otherwise, the main purpose of saving precious resources, minimizing conflict and increasing the effectiveness of communication between the parties won't be fulfilled.

Who Should Write the SOW in Software Development?

There is no one set person responsible for writing a Statement of Work. In fact, it's usually a collaborative project involving multiple people, planning, authoring, reviewing, editing, and finally approving the document.

As this document requires thorough knowledge of the project information, it is generally written by the outsourcing development company or its Chief Information Officer. In some cases, the client is the one defining project requirements in the SOW.

Either way, SOW authors tend to use templates when writing the document, as this is a great way to save time and ensure that all the necessary details are included in the Statement of Work.

What's Included in the SOW in Software Development?

The format of your SOW will depend on your project specifics. However, certain guidelines should be followed to save resources and minimize the risks of later conflicts.

Let's take a look at what sections and information should the SOW software development document include:

Introduction

The first part of the software development SOW is the introduction. The introductory clause should contain clarifications regarding the parties involved in the project.

In other words, you should define who the parties to the document are, their responsibilities, and the other experts tasked with the completion of the project's tasks.

The first paragraphs should also contain the project background and a brief explanation of the project's objective.

Finally, the Statement of Work routinely includes the place and date of when the document was drafted.

Purpose

The next thing you need to define is the reasons for running a specific project and the goals you need to meet.

To define these parameters, the client's expectations need to be outlined first. For example, a client should provide information on what their predicted ROI is before drafting the purpose of the project in the software development SOW.

Scope

To stay motivated, receive feedback and make corrections along the course of the project, you should break your project down into phases and manageable tasks.

Then, you should define responsibilities per each phase/task and the key figures responsible for each of those statements of work software implementation processes.

Another thing you should consider is the project budget, the methodology for solving any issues that may arise, and some additional requirements, such as the ones your subcontractors will need to fulfill.

Location

When defining the Statement of Work document, you need to consider the facilities where various operations throughout the project will be conducted. That includes answering the questions such as:

  • Where will the regular, day-to-day operations of your project take place?
  • Will the project be carried out remotely or on-site?
  • If it's carried out on-site, are the operations taking place at the client's premises, the vendor's premises, or somewhere else?
  • Where will the project-related meetings and ad-hoc activities take place?

Standards

Throughout its course, people responsible for the execution of the project need to follow several different standards.

These standards, for one, include defining which platforms and coding languages will be used to meet the project's objectives.

Next, it is important to identify which industry standards the project has to follow. By identifying this, you'll also be able to identify and define the project requirements, as well as the hardware/software specifications and restrictions.

Among other things you need to consider are:

  • Testing standards
  • Communication tools that are to be used for communication between the outsourcing software development company and the client
  • Procedures that need to be followed when making modifications to the product
  • Penalties for failing to stick to these specifications or for deliverables past the due date

Schedule

First things first, you should define the beginning and end of your project in the software development SOW.

Then, to make sure that all your milestones are met, you need to make a timeline of your tasks and assign each of them deadlines.

Apart from that, consider whether your project schedule should be strict or flexible. If there's some space for a flexible approach, make sure to define the extent of that flexibility.

Finally, don't forget to define the payable hours of your software devs.

Monitoring

Apart from setting deadlines for deliverables, you also need to set deadlines for regular performance reviews and corresponding reports.

These reviews are of immense value to both the company and the client, as they provide the opportunity for feedback and recognition of the hard work put in so far.

If you intend to use tools for tracking and project management (e.g., Jira, which is used for project management by more than 65,000 companies in the world), you should also define the exact tool, the extent, and the purposes for which it'll be used.

Acceptance

A great way to identify whether you've completed a project successfully is to first understand which deliverables are considered unacceptable.

In that manner, your SOW should include the grounds for contract termination.

Moreover, it should include the key people responsible for reviewing the deliverables and signing them for authorization.

Keep in mind that the final product should be accepted only after all of the performance requirements and quality standards have been met.

Payments

One of the last things you need to consider is whether the payments for the project execution should be made on a pre-set schedule or after hitting certain milestones.

Depending on the answer, you need to define the exact schedule of payments, the milestones that need to be met, or the single sum that will be paid at the end of the project.

Finally, you could also include the hours of work that should be put into the project and the way the payments will be delivered to the party receiving them.

Other

Similar to any other contract, there is no universal SOW template that can be applied to all projects.

Sometimes, your Statement of Work will need to include certain miscellaneous items, depending on your unique requirements and goals.

This other information may include, but is not limited to:

  • Security and compliance standards
  • Travel costs for the parties involved in the project
  • Intellectual property matters regulation (e.g., code ownership)
  • Jurisdiction regulation
  • Timeframe for subsequent changes to the product and later client support
  • Administrative information regarding the documentation involved in the project
  • Liability and warranty clause
  • Technical and business conditions

How to Write a Bulletproof SOW in Software Development?

Define the Main Objectives Ahead of Time

Every great software Statement of Work document starts with good communication between the client and the vendor.

In fact, you should clearly define the objectives of your project during the earliest stages of its development.

The more detailed your negotiation process for the statement of work software implementation is, the fewer amendments to the initial settlement will need to be made.

Keep the Language Simple

To have everyone included in the project understand its requirements, you need to write your SOW in a clear, direct language.

Don't overcomplicate or write confusing paragraphs. Instead, define your objectives, successes and failures in an unambiguous way to leave little to no room for misinterpretation.

Use Visuals

Don't be afraid to use visuals to communicate the final value of the product to the customer.

Apart from the textual content, that means using different schemes, flowcharts and diagrams to make the understanding of the project easier.

Get Sign-offs

Finally, you want to make sure that the authorized persons are signing your SOWs, critical milestones and deliverables on your SOW software.

As the SOW is a document with legal repercussions, meaning that the parties in it will be responsible for any mistakes that may occur throughout the project, you might want to consider hiring a lawyer to assist you in its preparation.

Software Development SOW Templates

As you can probably guess, writing up an SOW document is hard and time-consuming work. However, this task can be made less daunting with the use of the right templates.

For example, you can find completely free software Statement of Work templates here and here to download them for personal use. After filling out the appropriate fields, feel free to add your information for a personalized touch.

You could also upload your downloaded SOW template into project management software, where you'll have access to multiple different tools that can help you manage your project more efficiently.

SOW Software Summary

The Statement of Work in software development can be that one thing that accelerates the development of your product and gets it to the market faster.

In its essence, it is a result of brainstorming and extensive collaboration between the software development company and the client. As such, it allows for key project points to be addressed from multiple angles.

If you want to ensure a secure, effective, and overall positive partnership on the project, early drafting of the SOW is a fundamental necessity.

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