In web development, a project of any scale requires strategy and planning upfront. A statement of work (SOW) is a useful (and necessary!) tool that keeps expectations clear and carefully outlines all of the project details needed to make progress.

Each client will require a tailored statement of work dependent upon the individual needs and goals of the project. Customizing your SOW is crucial and keeps both parties on the same page and in agreement of the overall project requirements and expectations.

Here are 6 easy ways to get started on a killer statement of work:

1. Define the Purpose

photo-1453838956707-38a7aa3cd62dGet down to the core of what your customer is looking for and what they need in a website. How does your client plan to expand business? What kind of information are they looking to communicate with the site? What do they want the site to say about the brand?

Determining a clear purpose for the site not only allows you bring in customer-specific ideas and strategies, but it creates an environment of understanding. Both you and your client can be on the same page in regards to expectations, realities, types of projects, and timelines. Don’t overlook this step; it shapes the entirety of your working relationship.

2. Outline the Individual Parts of the Project

Now that you have a clear purpose for the project, you have to outline the steps that will get you there.

Dependent upon the functionality the client requires, you may need to bring in outside help or designers and developers specifically skilled for graphic design, content development, or a specific coding language.

Know what each step of the project requires on the front end allows you to get the additional help you need, adjust pricing, and outline accurate timelines and deliverables for your client.

3. Determine Extra Costs

photo-1459257831348-f0cdd359235fBeing respectful (and realistic) with your client’s budget is important. Since you’ve (hopefully) already outlined the individual steps of the project, it should be that much easier to estimate the budget needed for each part.

This allows you to give your client a more accurate quote upfront and helps you avoid either taking a loss or having the awkward “your budget isn’t gonna cut it” conversation.

4. Make a Timeline

This is sometimes the most difficult aspect of creating a clear statement of work. However, honesty is the best policy in this situation. Avoid going into a project with unstructured time – that’s a surefire way to lose a lot of money and potentially lose your client in the process.

Be sure to evaluate not only the time it will take you to accomplish the initial design and development, but the client feedback and pesky bug fixes that will inevitably pop up, which can sometimes take longer than the buildout itself.

Factor all this into your SOW and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.

5. Create a Payment Plan

photo-1435527173128-983b87201f4dObviously, you’re pretty aware at this point in the game that a buildout isn’t going to happen overnight. In fact, it may take longer than initially anticipated.

So how do you factor in payment to your timeline?

Depending on the size of the project, you may want to consider creating a payment plan based upon your timeline and completed tasks. While it’s generally best practice to ask for 100% upfront on short projects, other project may require a different structure.

You can create a plan that requires a percentage upfront with payments due after each completed task, or you can set up monthly payments, or create a plan specific to your client and project.

Be sure to factor in maintenance or hosting fees if these are applicable to the project. But whatever payment method you decide is best, make sure to clearly outline it your SOW.

6. List Out Business Requirements

Your client likely has a specific reason for needing a website. Make sure you determine (other than the purpose) the actual logistical needs of the client. Do they need a blog page? A contact page? A portfolio?

Whatever requirements they have to make their business more efficiently should be considered in your SOW. Request whatever information you need from a client to make the project as successful project.

So Now What?

Developing a website for a client is a tedious process and should be taken too lightly. Be as prepared as you can on the front end. Don’t get too discouraged if there is a hiccup or two along the way, but take comfort in the fact that, with your killer SOW, you have successfully prevented a whole lot of issues on the front end. Each client is unique and will require an equally unique statement of work.