Importance of a Good Scope of Work | by Andrew C. Hillman

Have you ever experienced an RFP or Tender process that has resulted in the submission of fundamentally different proposals from suppliers? Do you struggle through the contract life cycle, wrought with scope changes by end users and price changes by suppliers? More than often, this is because of a poorly developed scope of work or specification.

The scope of work is the heart of the RFP or Tender. Developing the scope of work or specification is the most critical part of the entire contracting process and it is the foundation of supplier selection and contract establishment. A well written scope of work can do more for the success of a contract than any other part of the contracting process - it is the yardstick against which the supplier’s performance is measured.

Terminology and Choice of Wording

A good scope of work is clear, comprehensive and logical enough to be understood by the bidder and the sourcing team. It is important that the scope of work be clear, unambiguous and understandable. If
the scope of work is ambiguous, you will have a difficult making the service provider comply with your expectations.

When drafting the scope of work, keep in mind that it must clearly communicate what you expect from the bidder. If you think that an abbreviation, description or terminology could be misunderstood, include a definitions section so that end users, sourcing team and bidders equally have the same frame of reference. Avoid using phrases or clauses whose meaning is arguable or ambiguous.

Scope of Work Content

The purpose of the scope of work is to explain what the bidder is expected to do, how the bidder should perform, and where and when delivery or performance should take place. Good proposals make
the RFP or Tender evaluation process easier and will increase the chances that you will get what you want out of the resulting contract.

The following are suggested sections that the scope of work should cover:

· Product/Material Specification and/or Service requirements

· Key Performance Indicators and Measurements

· Deliverables

· Timeline or timeframe

· Acceptance criteria

· Roles and Responsibilities

· Pricing criteria (fixed, time and material, per unit rate, rate schedule) and actual pricing

Determining What You Need

An ambiguous and unclear scope of work may result in paying higher prices, especially if the supplier struggles to understand the limits of what you require. The information in the scope of work is the basis for the potential contractor to know what is expected in order to determine a cost and for you and the contractor to know the basis of accountability.
Aspect To
    Be Addressed



 Problem/issue     to be addressed

What   is   the problem to be solved or issue to be addressed? How will   you know that the problem is solved or the issue resolved satisfactorily?   What do you want to see accomplished?

 Characteristics of   entity/persons to be served

Who   has the problem or issue? Who is expected to be served under this   contract? What are their characteristics such as geographic location,   etc?

 Staff characteristics

What types   of staff will the contract require? (Qualifications, availability, etc.)

 Facilities &   equipment

What facilities   and equipment will be required or expected? Are there specific     requirements the facilities or equipment must meet?


 Definition     of service

What types   of services will the contract require?


What service   tasks must be performed

 Method of   delivery

Are there   expectations for how the tasks must be carried out? Ask yourself if   you have expectations about how, when, where, who, how often, what? If   so, what are those expectations?


 Service   completion

How will   you know the service has been provided and the required tasks completed? Will   payment be tied to outputs? Are there reports or meetings you expect?   If so, at what

 Source: IOWA State Procurement Department

Both tangible and intangible benefits can be realized from the development of a good scope of work. The product or service that the bidders offer will be close to the original requirement of the RFP and the bidders
proposals will be competitive and easy to evaluate.

A good scope of work, established pre-RFP stage with the right stakeholders involved, will result in the effective implementation of the contract and relatively trouble-free contract life cycle management. Suppliers will know what is expected of them and they can be effectively measured against agreed criteria. Ultimately, the fulfillment of your contract will be successful.

Andrew C. Hillman is Managing Director and Principle Consultant at Bespoke -

Posted on May 05, 2014

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