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A business plan is a formal written document containing the goals of a business, the methods for attaining those goals, and the time frame for the achievement of the goals. It also describes the nature of the business, background information, the organization's financial projections, and the strategies it intends to implement to achieve the stated targets. In its entirety, a business plan serves as a road map that provides the direction of the business. 


A business proposal is a written offer from a seller to a prospective lender or sponsor. Business proposals are often a key step in the complex sales process. A proposal puts the buyer's requirements in a context that favors the seller's products and services, and educates the buyer about the capabilities of the seller in satisfying their needs. 


A capabilities statement is a concise, one-page document of your business competencies. Think of it as your businesses' resume'. Its purpose is to provide specific information that will convince potential customers to do business with you. When written well, it will differentiate your business from the competition. 


General contracts are legal documents that outline the terms and conditions of an agreement and are signed by both parties involved. A general contract for services, sometimes called a service agreement, is used to define the services provided by one business and received by an individual or other business.


A grant proposal is a very clear, direct document written to a particular organization or funding agency with the purpose of persuading the reviewers to provide you with support because: (1) you have an important and fully considered plan to advance a valuable cause, and (2) you are responsible and capable of realizing that plan.


A memorandum of understanding is a document that describes the broad outlines of an agreement that two or more parties have reached. MOUs communicate the mutually accepted expectations of all of the parties involved in a negotiation. While not legally binding, the MOU signals that a binding contract is imminent. The MOU can be seen as the starting point for negotiations as it defines the scope and purpose of the talks. Such memoranda are most often seen in international treaty negotiations but also may be used in high-stakes business dealings such as merger talks.

The MOU does not create duties or legally enforceable liabilities or obligations for any party nor does it establish a standard of care attributable to the activities associated with the subject of the agreement. MOUs should contain the following provisions:

  • a listing of the parties involved;

  • a purpose;

  • terms and conditions;

  • appropriate bilateral signatures;

  • duration of the agreement; and

  • any special provisions as applicable.


 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA): An MOA is a document written between parties to cooperatively work together on an agreed upon project or meet an agreed upon objective. The purpose of an MOA is to have a written formal understanding of the agreement between parties. An MOA details the obligations and commitments of the parties and allocates and minimizes each party's risks. It can also be referred to as a contract and is legally binding. MOAs must contain, but are not limited to:

  • a listing of the parties involved;

  • a purpose/statement of work;

  • terms and conditions;

  • appropriate bilateral signatures;

  • duration of agreement; and

  • any payment terms or special provisions as applicable.


A statement of work (SOW) is a document routinely employed in the field of project management. It is the narrative description of a project's work requirement. It defines project-specific activities, deliverables and timelines for a vendor providing services to the client. The SOW typically also includes detailed requirements and pricing, with standard regulatory and governance terms and conditions. It is often an important accompaniment to a master service agreement or request for proposal (RFP).

A statement of work typically addresses these subjects.

  • Purpose: Why are we doing this project? A purpose statement attempts to answer this.

  • Scope of work: This describes the work to be done and specifies the hardware and software involved. The definition of scope becomes the scope statement. 

  • Location of work: This describes where the work is to be performed, including the location of hardware and software and where people will meet to do the work.

  • Period of performance: This specifies the allowable time for projects, such as start and finish time, number of hours that can be billed per week or month, where work is to be performed and anything else that relates to scheduling.

  • Deliverables schedule: This part lists and describes what is due and when.

  • Applicable standards: This describes any industry specific standards that need to be adhered to in fulfilling the contract.

  • Acceptance criteria: This specifies how the buyer or receiver of goods will determine if the product or service is acceptable, usually with objective criteria. See Acceptance testing.

  • Special requirements: This specifies any special hardware or software, specialized workforce requirements, such as degrees or certifications for personnel, travel requirements, and anything else not covered in the contract specifics.

  • Type of contract/payment schedule: The project acceptance will depend on if the budget available will be enough to cover the work required. Therefore, a breakdown of payments by whether they are up-front or phased will usually be negotiated in an early stage.

  • Miscellaneous: Many items that are not part of the main negotiations may be listed because they are important to the project, and overlooking or forgetting them could pose problems for the project.

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