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How To Write a Brief for a Software Development Agency

The Briefing Process

Building a brief can be complicated and time consuming, which is why we like to keep it as simple as we can for our clients.

While we can help you throughout the briefing process, we know how helpful it can be to get your ideas down and share them with the team.

There are five core parts to a good brief (it doesn’t have to be 100 pages long!), which you can provide up front or we can uncover during a workshop. Once we have these down, we can help you with the rest.

At the end of this article is a short template to help focus your thinking and guide you through the process.

Context - The Challenge You Face or the Opportunity You Have

What’s the challenge that you’ve been grappling with or the opportunity you’ve discovered? Tell us about it. When we understand what you’re up against, it helps us formulate a plan of attack and see the best way to work with you to get the best results.

We’ve had clients draw out their challenges on napkins and others provide us with in-depth documentation of what the opportunity is and how they want to approach it. Whether you have either of those approaches or you fall somewhere in the middle, we can work it out with you.

What Success is for you and your organisation

What does success look like for you, as the project owner for your organisation, and for your business? When this challenge is completely solved or this opportunity is completely realised, where do you and your organisation want to be?

What Success looks like for your Users

Now that you know what success looks like for you, what does it look like for the people that will be using your solution? Is it a beautiful and interesting experience that keeps them returning to your app time and again to make new purchases or consume content? Is it increased productivity or feeling empowered to engage with your brand more?

The Budget

Software development doesn’t have to be a “how long is a piece of string” situation. Some clients come to us with a set budget or even a ballpark figure (along with the list of features they need) and we work with them to prioritise those features and see how they can fit into the budget.

We know that setting a budget isn’t always easy (or even possible),especially if it’s your first digital transformation or web or mobile app build. So we take our clients through a Discovery Process, including multiple in-depth workshops, to help them figure out what they need from a project and how big it’s going to be.

Following the Discovery, we can work with you on a Rough Order of Magnitude (sometimes known as a ROM) which does its best to eliminate that “how long is a piece of string” feeling and get as close as possible to nailing down the actual cost and timeline of the project.

By working with you on these points, we can also help define the metrics for budget approval (such as ROI) so you have a clear idea of what you’re getting for your money.

Once all of that is taken care of, we’ll start working in two week sprints. This means every two weeks we have a demo we can show you so you can continually track progress and see where the budget is going and how it’s being used.

Existing Constraints and Challenges

It’s good for us to know what we’re working with. If you’ve already begun work on the project, which tools and systems are you using? Which challenges have come up? Tell us about the things that are slowing down your progress or acting as blockers for getting things done.

We’ve been out on runaways, train tracks and in laboratories to get a feel for our client’s challenges and opportunities. We work hard to put ourselves in our client’s shoes and to fully understand their business. Whether the project is a completely new build with a huge budget or a smaller scale app or we join the project halfway through, we’ve worked with start ups and blue-chip businesses in every situation.

This experience means we can tackle a lot of different constraints and challenges and the agile nature of our workflow means that we’re always learning and continuously improving.

The Brief Template

This brief template will help guide your thinking and start the ideation process. Try to answer these questions as fully as you can. It doesn't matter if it's not perfect, we can use Discovery workshops to refine your ideas and needs. It's just a starting point.

  • What's the project's goal?

  • What's the scope of your project?

  • When do you need the app to be available to consumers?

  • What stage is the project at?

  • What are your existing constraints and challenges?

  • What's your budget?

Briefs can often seem long and complicated. If you need any help throughout the process, feel free to get in touch with us. We can start with a fully fleshed out brief or with an idea drawn on the back of a napkin (true story).

If you’d like to discuss your brief, feel free to get in touch.