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ITMG624 Week 3 Discussion - Elements of Project Charter & Statement of Work

Key Elements of Project Charter and Statement of Work (SOW)

What is a project Charter? - A project charter is a high level document, which is created initially, as the project is mooted, to highlight the key need of the project – the objective, purpose of the project and its high level deliverables. It also highlights the key risks, assumptions, constraints, estimated timeline, summary budget, key milestones, deliverables, project manager, key stakeholders etc. The Project Charter is usually a short document – about one to three page long. If you go beyond that, you are probably writing an essay. A project charter is supposed to provide a very short, high level overview of the project and its requirements, deliverables to provide a decent idea about the project to anyone who is interested. It helps everyone on the project team to get clarity about the project, and have a common understanding. Review the provided resource - Video in its entirety.

What is an SOW? - A statement of work (SOW) is the written description of an agency requirement, used in the acquisition of supplies or services. The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) mandates that government requirements be described in a manner that promotes full and open competition to the maximum extent practicable and that restrictive provisions or conditions be used only to the extent necessary to satisfy the needs of the agency or as authorized by law. The FAR goes on to say that requirements should be stated in terms of the functions to be performed, the performance required, or the essential physical characteristics of the requirements.

Planning the Statement of Work - Technological advances and innovations make planning and preparation more important than ever to ensure that government acquisitions take full advantage of what the marketplace has to offer. Two key elements of planning and preparation are acquisition planning and market research. Acquisition planning identifies the agency requirement and its initial description and is accomplished before the SOW or performance work statement (PWS) is developed. Market research develops information about marketplace capabilities and processes and refines the description of the requirement by correlating the government need with what industry can provide. Market research takes place both before and during the preparation of the SOW or PWS.

Common Problems in Writing SOW's - Writing an SOW can be difficult. Even if you have developed an outline, getting the first words down on paper can be a challenge. One way to start is to write the first draft concentrating only on expressing your ideas of what needs to be done. Focus on describing your requirement without worrying about the format or the language—simply get your ideas down on paper. If you concentrate initially on format and language, you may forget some of your ideas, and the ideas are the important element. After describing your requirement, you can go back and refine the draft, concentrating on the format and language you use. The finished SOW has to describe clearly what is to be accomplished, not how to do it. Detailed "how to" instructions should be used only as necessary to ensure that the contractor is headed in the right direction.

It is important to have someone review and edit your SOW objectively. A review and edit by one of your peers may identify problems that have escaped your attention. Your goal is to produce an SOW that can be processed into an effective contract with little or no change. If the contracting officer has to ask for SOW revisions, the processing of your requirement will be delayed significantly.

Managing Changes to the SOW - Regardless of how well the SOW is planned, changes inevitably occur throughout the lifecycle of a project. One of the project manager's main responsibilities is to maintain a balance among the scope, cost, and schedule of a project. These three variables are typically referred to as the "triple constraints" of a project and are often illustrated as an equilateral triangle. The SOW establishes the initial parameters for the triangle by defining the baseline scope, cost, and scheduled project completion date. When one side of the triangle increases or decreases, it has a direct impact on the other two.

Discussion Points:

Please list each question and answer each question below when posting your initial response.

  1. What are the steps of developing an SOW?

  2. What are the common problems in writing an SOW?

  3. Discuss the keys to managing changes to the SOW.

The statement of work (SOW) is the document as dictated by the federal acquisitions regulations (FAR), that displays the written requirements of an organization or agency in the acquisition of services and supplies. FAR demands the statement be as promotional of competition and transparency for the agency's needs and restricted only where applicable by law. “The statement of work contains enough information to allow development of the WBS, schedules, and cost estimates, as well as assignment of responsibilities”, (Dinsmore & Cabanis-Brewin, 2014). The SOW is put together through thorough planning for the maximum impact on taking advantage of marketplace opportunities. The first two planning steps are acquisition planning and market research. This defines the acquisitions needed and then analyzing the market conditions for acquiring those acquisitions. This helps alleviate any sloppy fit of goods or services needed. These are performed prior to the SOW and the

performance work statement (PWS) are produced. The following steps include after completion of a acceptable SOW or PWS is the review of the completed, written SOW. When that is completely reviewed and editing is done, execution of the SOW and application into the project planning and documentation. A successful SOW can be influenced by or affected by a number of items which could cause either negative or positive results on how they are handled. These would be the integration of processes, type of environment or culture, upper management acceptance or support (for or against), training and education available, formalization methodology or project management office (PMO), and the dedicated knowledgable resources both available and applied. Other items that can cause problems are the development of project plans and time schedules, deciding or applying the written documentation standards, the determination of budgets requirements, written scope statement of work, the creation of an environment to encourage team relationships, and the motivation of individuals to complete activities (commonly thought to be the most difficult). Handling change is a very important skill and the SOW will need refinement at some point. “Approved change requests can include modifications to the terms and conditions of the contract including the procurement statement of work, pricing, and description of the products, services, or results to be provided. All changes are formally documented in writing and approved before being implemented “, (PMBOK, 2008).


Dinsmore, Paul & Cabanis-Brewin, Jeannette (June 12, 2014). The AMA handbook of project management. Amacom. E-book ISBN: 9780814433409

PMBOK. (2008). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide Fourth Edition. Retrieved March 7, 2022, from

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