e highly recommend visiting the Wikipedia entry of “Statement of work” since it’s the most authoritative, but our goal is to explain from the creative lens & context.
"Statement of Work"
A Statement of Work is your binding, legal document referring to work performed under contract. It’s an official agreement and includes several crucial sections, including the Scope of work.
Intro/Purpose (or Background):
Why we’re working on this project & what the goals are
Scope of Work:
Specific Objectives, Deliverables, Expectations, Project Schedule/Phases
Indicate when, how often, and how you will be paid. Designers often struggle with defining payment terms. Many of us can’t afford to wait (or front) doing unpaid work for a NET 30 / 60 / 90 client. Or we at least would pitch a very different payment timeline & retainer / initial deposit policy. Tip: Use tools that allow you to set & capture deposits in the 1st pay period in case it ends up being several pay periods out to final delivery.
Include most basic expectations for the client to agree to. Whether you simply don’t work weekends or there are typical Industry contractor standards worth mentioning, add them! Example: “I will only be available Mon-Friday from 9AM - 6PM” or “Extra costs for assets or licenses will be paid separately by the client” or “Time will be tracked on an hourly basis for this project and capped at X hrs.”
Where you both sign, e-sign, or agree
These sections are the “what” & “why” of the project. Essentially, it’s the official agreement & terms behind the scope of work.
"Scope of Work"
The Scope of Work is an outline of the exact work to be completed or performed, usually attached to a Statement of Work agreement. The actual details of the project / ask is often called the scope statement.
A Scope of Work doesn’t need to be as rigid when bidding (but make it airtight when closing).
Here are some tips on how to present scopes of work and what to include:
1. Offer Options & Choices
When you’re pitching to a client, we recommend offering up different scopes— whether it showcases more deliverables, unlocks a kick🍑ss milestone, or is a great, creative brand experience you think could benefit the client, mention it.
Offering the idea of different scopes lets the client know that you’re 1.) flexible and 2.) capable of more projects/campaigns down the line.
2. Make sure the client understands scope tradeoffs
A great scope of work educates the client while presenting the scope clearly. In each scope of work option, help the client understand the pros and cons of each. What are they getting with one that they ARE not getting with another?
Use a consistent format for each scope of work presented. For example, if one scope of work doesn’t include a deliverable, don’t simply remove that section altogether. Keep the section, and write “Not Included.”
3. Outline what’s “Out-of-Scope”
Make sure they understand what they are and are not getting when they choose & agree to your scope. Telling the client what they’re not getting is just as important as outlining what they are receiving.
Verify that they understand what the end goals of the project are and what will not be achieved.
Friendly tip: Another way to frame a “non-goal” would be to clarify what is possible as an add-on or at an additional cost. Itemizing potential add-ons makes sure they realize the value of your work. And ultimately, that will help you avoid nasty surprises / misunderstandings and scope creep.
4. Make sure to include place & time
Many freelancers have been remote for a while, but there will always be production gigs, interactive sessions or other work that will need to be in-person.
Outlining a process that helps your client understand how much time they’ll have with you and where that time will be spent is crucial to getting the ball rolling faster.
SIDE NOTE - Newer labor laws passing across the U.S. are beginning to define rules for businesses that engage freelance contractors, mainly around how & where work is performed. See this overview by our friends at Freelancers Union about the “ABC test” and the PRO Act.
We may work from home, in co-working spaces, collectives, studios & large agencies, but most freelancers should have the power to say how we work without direction.
Include your availability and start and end dates of the project in your scope of work. Also make sure to include any max billable time and/or budget allowances.
5. Key Milestones & Deliverable Schedule w/Expectations
Perhaps the toughest job of the scope of work is to educate the client as much as possible. Your client isn’t dumb, but they often aren’t familiar with the process. Keep it simple & clear. Write up your project phases and schedule as if you’re explaining this process to your 8 year old niece or nephew.
Mark phases with clear expectations - especially when requested revisions would be out of scope. Include deliverables, timing, expectations, and costs in each phase.
e.g. In video, no video edit revisions after picture lock. Color correction, GFX, and audio mix will happen after picture lock, so it’s important that we do not make changes to the edit during the final stages of this project.
e.g. For illustrators, no character design concept revisions after sketch & illustration phase.