Project Statement of Work vs Project Charter for PMP Exam

Project Statement of Work vs Project Charter for PMP Exam

Similar to the article discussing the differences and similarities between Project Statement of Work and Business Case, this article will discuss the differences and similarities between Project Statement of Work and Project Charter. In short, the Project Statement of Work is an input used to create the Project Charter and both of them contains similar high-level information of the project.

Project Statement of Work and Project Charter

  • Project Statement of Work (SOW): The Project Statement of Work is a document providing the business need and the overview of the qualities/characteristics of intended deliverables/products the project would deliver. It will also include what are included / NOT included in the project.
    • The Project SOW is provided:
      • (for external projects) customer as the basis for writing the bid document;
      • (for internal projects) project sponsor
  • Project Charter: The Project Charter is a formal document to authorize the project and give the project manager the authority to spend the project budget.
    • The Project Charter includes:
      • Project purpose / justification
      • High-level project objectives and product characteristics
      • Project success criteria
      • High-level requirements
      • High-level schedule and budget
      • Name the Project manager
      • List out the project approval requirements and approval authority
    • The Project Charter is created in the Develop Project Charter process with the following inputs:
      • Project statement of work (SOW)
      • Business case
      • Agreement
      • Enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
      • Organizational process assets

Illustrated Example

Let’s again take the project of PMP® Exam preparation as an example as this is most relevant to aspirants. Imagine you are the senior management of your exam prep project and you are to create the Project Statement of Work and the Project Charter for your project manager (who, incidentally, is also you).

The Project Statement of Work would likely to include:

  • Be qualified for the exam (e.g. 35 Contact Hours of project management education; working experience; etc.);
  • Be well prepared for the exam through studying and mock exam taking;
  • Sit and pass the exam in first try to get the credential.

The Project Charter would contain similar items:

  • Project purpose: Be able to pass the exam and get PMP® certified as this would add competitive advantages to the project management career
  • Project success criteria: pass the exam in first try
  • High-level schedule and budget: study and take the exam within 3 months (which is the norms for practising project managers), the minimal certification cost for the exam prep and exam is around US$1000
  • Project manager: you

Mock Exam Question

  1. You are the project manager of a software project. A colleague challenges your authority to make the decision to purchase a software development package. Which of the following document would you use to show him the authorization you have?
    1. Project Risk Register
    2. Project Work Plan
    3. Project Statement of Work
    4. Project Charter
    Solution: D
    The Project Charter is the go to document for authorization proof. It is the formal document to kick off the project and allow spending of project budget. The name of the project manager (i.e. your name) is also listed there too.


Project Statement of Work is provided by the organization/management to the project manager for creation of Project Charter:

  • Project Statement of Work (SOW) includes the business need and the overview of the qualities/characteristics of deliverables;
  • Project Charter is the document created based on the Project Statement of Work to authorize the Project Manager to kick off the project and spend the budget.
recommended PMP resourcesAdditional FREE PMP® resources: 47+ Commonly Confused Term Pairs with detailed explanations. If you found this article useful, you may wish to reference other Commonly Confused Term articles.

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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6 Responses

  1. Mian says:

    Hi Edward, can an SOW be produced before a project charter?

    • Well, it depends. One you change the process to suit their particular needs. These two documents need not to be created sequentially. Wish you PMP success!

  2. ss says:

    Is project statement of work (SOW) and project scope statement are same?

  3. Summer Ruckman says:

    Hi Edward, please delete my just-submitted comment. It is inaccurate. Thank you.