NAPM InfoEdge
November 1997, Vol. 3 No. 3

Writing a Complete and Effective Statement of Work

Table of Contents
  • A Basic Introduction Members Only Content
    A statement of work (SOW), as defined in the NAPM Glossary of Key Purchasing Terms, Second Edition, is a statement outlining specific services a contractor is expected to perform, generally indicating the type, level, and quality of service, as well as the time schedule required. Ironically, though it might be the most critical part of a complex contract (especially those that involve some type of services delivery), the SOW to those involved in any type of post-contract review find it commonly to be the weakest link. Not only is the statement of work a critical component of the contract (it expresses the desired output of the contract in legally enforceable terms), but it often becomes the heart of the request for proposal (RFP), as well as the offeror's proposal, making the SOW a key component in three of the links contained within the acquisition process (see boxes).

  • Preparing, Writing, and Managing the Statement of Work Members Only Content
    In the SOW process (see below), the essential aim in writing the statement of work is to decide what is to be resolved by the contract, along with the objectives needed to reach such resolutions.

  • Sample Statements of Work Members Only Content
    The following are samples of various statements of work. For information on obtaining more, see page 16.


Janet Sickinger
Janet Sickinger is a Purchasing Official with Amoco Corporation, with responsibility over purchasing and materials management services for the Southwest region, and over Purchasing's Engineered Equipment Center of Expertise, located in Houston, Texas, as well as the Information Technology Acquisition Center of Expertise located in Chicago, Illinois. Ms. Sickinger's 27 years of experience include employment with 3M Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Hughes Aircraft Corporation, Marconi Dynamics Aerospace International, and ownership of her own consulting company located in Puerto Rico. She has held various positions within the areas of material management, material project management-construction, contracting and subcontracting (commercial, government, international), auditing, marketing/business development, logistics, program planning scheduling, and control and security. Ms. Sickinger has an M.A. degree in logistics, and an M.B.A. in finance and business management. She is a certified cost analyst, and was a contract administrator in the United States Air Force.

  • Contracting Management, January 1995, "Services Contracting Under the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994"
  • Desk Guide to Preparing Statements of Work, Holbrook & Kellogg, Inc.
  • NAPM Insights, February 1995, "Construction Services: How to Hire the Trades"
  • Preparation of Statements of Work, Department of Defense Military Handbook (MIL-HOBK-245B)
  • Statements of Work Handbook, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  • Cohen, Gary. Effective Contract Administration: The Complete Handbook and Guide, American Management Association, 1997
  • Contract Management, July 1995, "Performance-Based Contracting for Services"
  • Graw, LeRoy H. and Maples, Deidre M. Service Purchasing: What Every Buyer Should Know, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1994
  • Kettner, Peter M. and Martin, Lawrence L., Purchase of Service Contracting, Sage Publications, 1987
  • NAPM Insights, November 1995, "Put It in the SOW"
  • Understanding and Preparing Statements of Work: Workshop Manual, The Associates


In addition to the publications cited above, various sample SOWs can be obtained on the Internet by using a search engine and keying in the words "statement of work," "statements of work," or "SOW." These sites also provide guidance on writing SOWs (note: at the time of publication, these sites were tested and available):

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