The Brief: why is it the single most important piece of document in a project?
Before answering the question above, allow me to tell you a story.
One day, while window shopping, Ana notices a gorgeous piece of fabric in one of the shops. She immediately goes in and buys it, and then rushes to a seamstress with it. As she enters the door she takes out the fabric, puts it on the table and tells the seamstress to make something from it by the end of the week, and then she stormes out. Ana returns at the end of the week and is presented with a pair of trousers. Horrified by the result, she tells the seamstress that in fact, she wanted a long-sleeved dress to wear to the New Year’s party…
Now, if you’re like me (and every other person sane out there), at the end of the story you’ve asked yourselves the same question: If she knew she wanted a dress, why on earth didn’t she say so?
And thus we’ve reached the core of the problem and the answer to the question at hand.
The Brief is that essential document, which defines the client’s primary requirements regarding the project.
EVERY PROJECT STARTS WITH A BRIEF!
The agency sends the brief to the client in order for him to fill out all the information asked by the agency. Or if the brief is already a part of the client’s workflow, then he doesn’t need one from the agency, he just sends his own. Based on the data provided, the agency initiates the project realization run-up or further discussion on the details.
A good brief should contain all the key information about the client’s project and business the agency needs to evaluate and proceed with the project development.
Just a heads up: there’s no universal brief template. Each type of project – design, web development, mobile app development, PR etc. – requires different briefs. Yet, the general brief structure stays the same in most cases. It’s the niche-specific elements that vary.
When outlining briefs, the amount of required data can vary significantly as well. In certain cases, a few very short and general phrases are sufficient (when the brief’s just 1-2 pages long), while in some other cases all the major project points should be detailed (then the brief can stretch up to 10-20 pages).
We recommend sticking to the following formula: at the beginning ask 5-6 most important questions, aimed at getting the crucial information you cannot start without; next – ask detailed, additional information that may be required during the work phase.
Here’s a list of the most common questions you are likely to find in any brief:
- Company profile/description of the client
- Project description, objectives
- Technical requirements
- Target audience
- Project Budget
- Project Timeline and Deadlines
Some say the lack of time leads to inadequate client briefs or worse: not using a brief at all. Truth is, not writing a brief to save time is a false economy, as more often than not it leads to re-working. A well-written brief leads to better, more effective and measurable work, and it saves time and money.
So if you’re not using one yet, or you have been asked to write one and skipped that part, it’s time to correct that mistake!