People, who look for contractors able to perform their scheduled projects, often have difficulties with preparing proper briefs. A brief is the first step that should be taken by any organization, that plans to send a request for quotation to a technology provider. It helps the traders to acquire general information about the needs of their client and makes it easier to specify, whether the receiver of the request is competent and resourceful enough to handle the project.

Gathering all basic information about the type and scope of a given operation in one place is often problematic. Frequently, project managers are not sure which informations are truly relevant or simply forget about them. It may bring about significant differences between the prepared offer, and the actual needs of the company at the next stage.

In short, a properly developed brief should specify the scope, reason and eventual effects of actions that need to be performed. Obviously, each brief will be different, depending on the type of the project it’s associated to. Documents related to usability, graphic design or technological requests, concerning the creation of an online store, will contain different data. The list presented below should be treated only as a basis, that may be expanded and adapted to various kinds of projects.

List of necessary information that should be included in a well-prepared brief:

  1. Scope of the project – most basic component of a brief.

  2. Description of the company – short information about the company and its area of operation.

  3. Description of the target group.

  4. Objectives of the project – e.g. distribution of product information, improvement of the image, increase of online brand recognition, etc.

  5. If the project associated with the request is related to redesign, it’s always important to clarify the reasons behind it. Doing so, it’s worth to mention the areas that demand particular attention and improvement.

  6. Description of web page/store content that needs to be designed and implemented. If the information architecture has already been developed at that stage, it may be used during the analysis of the project.

  7. Technological requirements that need to be fulfilled by the contractor and information about any necessary integration with external systems. If the assumptions concerning certain functionalities have been made, their description may also be included in the document.

  8. Method of performance. There are various approaches towards the performance of IT projects, including the waterfall model, sprints, agile methodology or Prince2. At this point, it may be a good idea to define the scheme of cooperation (form of reports, meetings, etc.).

  9. Anticipated effects.

  10. Start and completion date of the works – crucial information in respect of resource planning and determination of performance capability.

  11. Budget – another essential aspect that needs to be analyzed at the planning stage, even though not everyone is willing to discuss it.  It’s important to specify at least the expected price range of the whole project.

  12. Deadline for the offers and expectations related to their contents. Here, it’s important to specify the elements that will be taken into account during the selection process, in order to suggest the method for the development of the potential contractors’ offers (for instance, whether they should have some experience in a similar field, or is’t necessary to prepare a detailed schedule of works). It will make it easier to compare and assess the received offers.

A brief should be treated only as a basis for further dialogue between the contracting party and potential contractors. An effective trader and trading team should always be able to clarify the provided information, and to specify the aspects that are most essential for the whole project.

Paulina Sztebner

Project Manager at Divante eCommerce Software House

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