Ideas, suggestions and general thoughts about project management for development.

What is a Statement of Work?

In project management, the purpose of the statement of work (SOW) is to document the objectives, constraints, and scope of a project. However, it cannot and certainly should not attempt to document every agreement about the project. The SOW should record the objectives and constraints for managing the project. the minimum content listed here gives you an idea of what makes up a good SOW:

  • Purpose statement: A clear description of why the organization is doing the project, a description of the problem the project aims to solve.
  • Project objectives: The specific, measurable, achievable and time bound goals of the project (SMART goals)
  • Scope statement: A description of the major activities of the project in such a way that it will be absolutely clear if extra work is added later on.
  • Key deliverables: A list of outputs the project will produce, including intermediate deliverables, end deliverables, and deliverables related to project management.
  • Budget and schedule estimates: In addition to a budget and a deadline, a description of how flexible the budget is and the rationale behind the deadline.

The principal purpose of the SOW is for managing expectations and dealing with change. Without a good description of scope projects suffer from scope creep, which  refers to uncontrolled changes in a project's scope.  The SOW will also include a section that will detail what is out of scope, this helps manage the expectations of key stakeholders on the limits of the project. When disagreements about the scope arise after the project has started, they can sometimes be solved by reviewing the original SOW. In this case, all stakeholders must understand, agree, and approve to these changes, and the project manager must write them into the SOW or track them through other project management processes such as change orders. The SOW is a living document that tracks all approved changes made during the life of the project.

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How to do an Effective Project Close

The practice of project close-out finalizes all project activities completed across all phases of the project to formally close the project and transfer the completed or canceled project as appropriate. 
The purpose of project closeout is to assess the project, ensure completion, and derive any lessons learned and best practices to be applied to future projects.  However, in multi-phase projects, the close-out practice may be applied at various stages of the project; upon deliverable completion, upon phase completion, upon iteration completion, at designated times during the project’s life, or at whatever juncture represents a completed segment of project work.
Applying the close-out practice in this manner closes out only the portion of the project scope and associated activities applicable to that portion of the project. The practice of project close-out consists of the following activities:
  • Administrative Closure - The administrative closure process defines activities, interactions, and related roles and responsibilities of the project team members and other stakeholders involved in executing the administrative closure procedure for the projects.
  • Contract Closure - Contract closure includes activities and interactions needed to settle and close any contract agreements established for the project, as well as those related to supporting the formal administrative closure of the project.
  • Conduct Post-Project Review and Evaluation - A post-project review provides a record of the history of a project. It provides written documentation of the planned and actual budget, the baseline and actual schedule, and documents recommendations for other projects of similar size and scope.
  • Recognize and Celebrate Outstanding Project Work - Celebrating the success of completing a project with positive reinforcement can be extremely rewarding for project teams.  When a project is completed successfully, be certain to provide some kind of recognition to the team. If individuals are singled out for significant achievements, do not forget to recognize the entire team as well.
  • Complete and Archive Final Project Records - Historic project data is an important source of information to help improve future projects. All records, both electronic and hard copy should be stored according to record retention guidelines.
  • Ensure Transfer of Knowledge - Once all the project information has been accumulated the next step is to plan for knowledge transfer to those who will be responsible for continued operations. 

Don’t skip this process, this is a critical responsibility of the project manager. Avoid the temptation of jumping to a new project as soon as the project is over without completing the formal closure process. An efficient project closure ensure there are no loose end or issues that will create liabilities to the organization.

Want to learn more? Register on the next session of our online course Adaptive Project Management for Development Organizations and NGOs.

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