CREATING A STATEMENT OF WORK
For your client service agreement
You’ve got a solid contract for your clients covering your legal, but how do you customize a statement of work for each project? Here are some general guidelines:
What is a Statement of Work?
If you are a service provider, like a creative or a consultant, you should probably have an in-house client service agreement you give to new clients covering your service terms, intellectual property ownership, limitations on liability, and other important considerations.
But once you’ve got that in place, you don’t need to re-invent the wheel every time you sign a new client. Usually, you just need to prepare a custom statement of work (SOW) covering the details of a project and include it with your contract. Also, if your client needs more help down the road, they don’t necessarily have to sign a new contract, you can just prepare a new SOW which becomes part of the contract you already signed. Check with your lawyer to see if your contract allows this.
What should you include in a Statement of Work?
The SOW should clearly outline a number of areas, including:
Client - Identify the client, whether they are an individual, corporation, LLC, or other business entity.
Point of Contact - It is also helpful to identify a point-of-contact so there isn’t any ambiguity about who is giving you instructions. This should include their contact information, like an e-mail and phone number.
Services - You should clearly outline the scope of your services, including any phases of the project. If there are limitations on the services, such as a time cap, number of rounds of revisions, or other limitations, you should identify those so there is no confusion about what is or isn’t included in your fee.
Deliverables - Identifying deliverables is just as important as identifying the services. Ultimately, what do you owe the client? This may also be important if your contract assigns the client certain intellectual property rights to the deliverables.
Fees - How are you getting paid? Is it a flat fee, hourly fee, a retainer, royalties, or some combination? When are the payments owed?
Term and Timeline - How long does the project last? If it is a retainer project, is there a minimum number of months the client is committed to? You may want to include estimates about how long different phases of the project will last, but it can be helpful to classify timelines as estimates so that you are not in breach in the event of a reasonable delay.
What pitfalls should you avoid?
The SOW is generally a place for you to detail business terms corresponding to existing provisions in your contract. You should avoid introducing new legal terms in the SOW without the help of a lawyer.
For example, if your client service agreement doesn’t make any mention of royalty payments, we don’t recommend you try to introduce those as fee structure in your SOW without the help of a lawyer.
Other examples of legal terms you should avoid trying to DIY include:
Unique licensing schemes not referenced in your contract.
Non-competes or other rules not referenced in your contract.
When to contact a lawyer?
You can always seek legal help to ensure your SOW contains all the information you need for a project and properly aligns with your contract. Legal help may be especially important for more detailed and complex projects.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.