6 Useful tips to writing a great project brief
Writing a second-hand project brief can be hard because you firstly have to translate what your client requires, then secondly explain it so that another agency can fully grasp and quote you for their part. This is made even more difficult if you and your team aren’t creatively or technically minded.
So, here are 6 useful tips for writing a great project brief. I hope it helps you write better briefs in the future.
Oh, and for your convenience I have a free briefing template for you to download and complete when you next work with another agency (from now referred to as “Outsourcing Partner”).
You and your outsourcing partner will need to know who the key points of contact are for this project. This is applicable on both sides but in the case of your brief you’ll want to list your key contacts. That way your outsourcing partner know who to contact and include in emails, phone calls and virtual meetings.
Roles and responsibilities
In addition to listing key contacts you should also state who is responsible for decisions by listing roles and responsibilities.
A list of people are useful but may not help your outsourcing partner get final sign-off on designs if they don’t know who is responsible for that in your agency. By sharing peoples roles and responsibilities you clearly state who to contact and when. This streamlines the project allowing you and your partner to be effective communicators, which can help you avoid any applicable late fees due to misunderstandings and confusion.
Again this is applicable on both sides, but for the purposes of your project brief just list your key contacts roles and responsibilities. During a discovery meeting you can ask the outsourcing team who does what on their side of the fence.
Scope of work
Also referred to as key deliverables. A scope of work is a clearly defined list of requirements that lead to fulfillment of a particular project once completed.
Every project will be different in some way so be sure to list these differences. Essentially be as detailed and precise as you possibly can. More details result in greater accuracy and less wastage of time and resources on both sides.
Failure to properly define the scope of work can lead to a reverse brief, which is a chargeable service because your outsourcing partner will be defining the scope of work for you. You will want to avoid this if possible to save time and money for your agency. That’s not to say it is a bad thing, just it can reduce your final profit at the end of the project.
Milestones and Deadlines
These help you state when you would like things started and/or completed by. You can be specific and set a start and end date for the whole project, as well as particular milestones and even individual tasks.
This point will need to be discussed and perhaps negotiated by both sides. However, be sure to state what you prefer so a discussion can begin early on. You don’t want to pay a deposit and find out your outsourcing partner can start months from now 😱 Get this on the agenda as soon as possible.
A good rule of thumb is to set expectations but remain flexible and understanding.
Giving your outsourcing partner an indication of your outsourcing budget can really help to reduce wasting either parties time. For example if you don’t have a big enough budget for the full scope of work, perhaps you could shelve some work for phase 2 (future development cycle).
It also helps you to identify budgetary gaps that may require additional funding from your end client. Not the easiest discussion to have with your client but one that may be essential to get the job done right.
I would also add to that and say be mindful of your budget and be realistic. In fact, you should allow a 5–10% buffer for last minute changes to the scope of work, amongst other unexpected costs. Try your best to get this covered by your end client — why should you take the hit on profit?
When working with an outsourcing partner you may be asking for a white label service. For those of you unaware white label is when you and another agency, consultant or freelancer work together but you don’t tell anyone. Neither the client nor your peers know.
To ensure this is taken seriously all good outsourcing partners will be happy to sign an NDA to state that they will not share the details of the project and other sensitive information. This NDA is typically written up by your lawyer and sent to your outsourcing partner to sign. You will need to sign it as well.
(An NDA is not included in this article or accompanying briefing template. You should ask a lawyer to advise and draft this document for you. We do not provide legal advise or documentation.)
As mentioned at the start of the article we have a free project brief you can copy from our Google Drive and use for your upcoming outsourcing projects. It contains all the above mentioned tip items ready for you to fill in.
To get your copy fill in the form at the bottom of the page and you’ll receive an email with a link to the Google Document. Simply login to your Google account and click File > Make a Copy. On the new page rename the file as appropriate. I would give this master copy a title of [MASTER] Outsourcing Project Brief Template and copy it every time I wanted to send a project brief to an outsourcing partner. That way you don’t make changes to the original copy you made from our copy.
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