Is it taking too long to prepare your SOW and Evaluation Criteria?


Dan Everest

Published on: 07/21/2018

What is the SOW? Why is it important?

The Statement of Work (SOW, or PWS) is the foundation for Acquisition success. Competitions go smoothly when the SOW is “biddable.” Whatever your writing medium of choice (word processor, spreadsheet, or database), the key to constructing a biddable SOW is a consistent design containing all necessary information in an easy-to-navigate format. When done this way, the result will be a level playing field for bidders.

When completed, the SOW is easily saved as a digital PDF and attached to the RFP, where it can be examined, searched, and highlighted by bidders.

A Structured SOW in row and column format, using a word processor.

How much detail and how many requirements are sufficient?

A proven methodology for developing the best SOW structure includes:

• A Requirement Title (optional, but helps when you start sorting and searching)

• A Major Requirement, in as simple a verb/noun format as possible

• Additional information and/or related requirements, making the required project-specific

• An Estimated Quantity, so bidders respond to the same scope (i.e., apples-to-apples)

• Most importantly, a Performance Standard that identifies the same success level to all bidders (i.e., apples-to-apples)

While a minimal SOW sounds like a good idea, there are drawbacks with either minimalist approach:

  1. Bidders must write the services they are going to deliver to be able to offer a price.

Drawback: No one will state the same deliverables requiring significant evaluation effort and resulting in a selection that is not apples-to-apples.

  1. You prepare evaluation criteria that contain all the detail of the services you really want to buy to allow for an apples-to-apples selection.

Drawback: You spend a significant amount of time writing evaluation criteria that are discarded once the contract is in place, so why not just put the requirements in the SOW? After all, this is really what you want to buy.

“Provide all necessary services to deliver and support training."

Biddable SOWs are driven not by page count, but by performance standards. You need a requirement for every item whose success you care about and need to be able to measure. Proven SOWs with a Section such as Grounds Maintenance or Training will have about 15 to 40 requirements per Section containing Performance Standards, many of them supported by tables containing Estimated Quantity information. Having too few requirements or too little support detail just transfers the work to bidders and evaluators.

A Structured SOW in row and column format, using a word processor:

Anything Specific you want to look for?