We’ve all been there. You start to develop a project that seems reasonably simple. Then, a few weeks into the project, everything is stressful and needlessly complicated. Fortunately, it’s a mess that can be avoided. A simple document, the software development brief, is all you need.
What is a Software Development Brief
This is a short but useful document that details the purpose of the project. It helps ensure that everyone involved is moving forward with the same goals. If you create a good brief and get everyone to agree on its contents, you can virtually eliminate many of the issues that tend to crop up in projects like these.
7 Tips For Writing an Effective Brief
1. Don’t Let it Get Too Complicated
This is a document that will be used by developers and users. It should be written for understanding. In addition to that, this is a brief. You won’t address every detail or possible issue that might crop up. The purpose is to create a framework and keep everyone on the same page.
2. Introduce The Players
Everyone involved must know which team members are taking on various responsibilities and who they should contact if something comes up. Write out a brief summary of each person:
- Project Responsibilities
- Contact Information
In case your team consists of international members, consider translating the brief into various languages. You can do it pretty simply on your phone. Such a small gesture will take up not much effort but show your team that you care.
3. Define The Project Using Problem And Solution
This is where you and your team will outline the problem you are solving, how you are solving it, and what you won’t be addressing. Here’s a very truncated example:
Problem: Online shoppers can’t get answers to questions after hours.
Solution: Implement an online chatbot.
Off Limits: Incorporating FB messenger or other technologies.
4. Describe The Target Audience
Here, you will create something of a customer persona of the audience who will use the software and what they will expect. Combine demographic information, interests/values, and pain points. Something like this:
“Women over 50 who are interested in purchasing casual wear online. They are budget conscious but willing to spend money on good quality. They are generally computer savvy but may struggle with tasks, such as applying coupon codes, digital payment methods, or removing items from their shopping cart. Furthermore, they want a simple shopping process with help available if they need it.”
5. Outline The Functional And Technical Requirements
This is the section providing an overview of the functionality that the project will provide and the technical requirements. It includes:
- How will the user access and use the software?
- Where will the software run?
- What are the security limitations?
- How many users are expected at a given time?
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6. List The Design Elements
You don’t need to include a mock-up of every screen. This is just to get everyone to accept the overall look and feel of the project. For example, you might agree to use the same color scheme that appears on the company’s other projects. You can also provide some details on how the buttons will look or what the floating menu at the top of the screen will contain.
7. Set The Budget And Deadlines
Developers and users know that this is where things can get intense. It’s essential to get these details hammered out. Write out the overall software development budget that is available for the project. Then outline the various line items involved.
When you set deadlines, don’t just think about the project completion date. You’ll need to consider when the prototype will be completed, when it will be ready for user testing, etc.
Once you get some practice in, you will be able to write out project briefs very quickly. You might benefit from creating a template. In any case, you will be glad you began incorporating this important document into your projects.
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