Regular readers of this blog know that you absolutely should have a written contract, and not rely on “gentlemen’s agreements.” But what is the most important part of your agreement to provide professional services? The dispute resolution provision? Payment terms? Change Order requirements? All of those are important. I’d argue, however, that the Scope of Work provision is, if not the most important term, one of the key terms. Face it– once you have a good set of standard contract terms, they rarely need to be drastically rewritten for each individual project. But each and every time you start a new project, whether for a long-time client or a new owner, you are defining the Scope of Work.
This is where paying attention up front can save you headaches down the road. I often refer to the belt & suspenders approach— you want to both be very clear in describing the scope of work, and equally clear in describing exclusions to your services. That way, everyone knows what is expected up front, and you can hopefully avoid litigation pitfalls down the road.
Bill Beardslee of Davis Martin Powell has coined a nice mnemonic for Scope that is very apt:
S C O P E
Your turn. Do you carefully craft your Scope of Work for each new Project? You should. If you need help in crafting your Scopes of Work, drop me a line.