WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE YOU CALL OR WRITE TO ME ABOUT A PROJECT INQUIRY
HOW I USE A CLIENT BRIEF
Your brief is the most important piece of information issued to me before you engage my professional services. It is from this brief that your entire assignment will flow, how much time I will reserve for your project, and how I will estimate my fees and project expenses to complete your work, and the dates by which I believe I can complete your assignment. Therefore, after years of trial and error, I’ve created this essential tool so that every effort can be taken to prepare the best possible documentation of what you require.
The better and more thoughtfully your business issues are described, the more likely it is that I will be able to apply my expertise and experience to produce my best work for you.
SAVING US BOTH TIME AND MONEY
The one thing that drives up costs on any client project is to work without explicit direction and objectives from the client. Changes in scope and unclear objectives wear on relationships and results in wasted time and effort on both sides. I want to get it right the first time for you and charge you the lowest possible fee for the professional services you need from me. That saves time and money for you, and is great for my reputation as an independent expert consultant. The written brief, when completed by the you, instills a discipline on me and my team to be very clear about your stated objectives and expected outcomes are, using your words, rather than my interpretation of what you want to achieve. This helps me to avoid injecting any bias into my interpretation and prevents me from accidentally misinterpreting what you want me to do.
Clients often mention that they believe that time pressures are a valid objection to completing a brief. But this is actually a false economy. That’s because more often than not, the lack of a well-developed brief leads to re-working, which must be billed to you.
Without fully agreed business objectives, it is impossible to respond with feedback that says “I got exactly what I needed from Maria Todd, on time and on budget.” The scale of your project will dictate the depth and complexity of your brief. We may decided that it is best to approach large scale projects with interim components of work, each with a separate brief and budget and time frame, and progressively moving through the milestones together. But whatever the task, a written brief that includes your stated objectives as you describe them, and your stated success criteria is the foundation stone for accountability and measurable results for both of us.
The best client/consultant relationships are those that are built on mutual respect, integrity, and joint humility of approach which allows the professional perspectives we each bring to your assignment to be recognized and respected. This comes from clear, open communication in both directions. Establishing a clarity of purpose through the definition of objectives which are outcome focused and measurable is clearly at the heart of my briefing process.
WHY I WON’T WORK WITHOUT A COMPLETED BRIEF
I require a written brief because it “forces” you to consider and articulate your request and requirements from me and my team. The discipline of completing the brief ensures some rigor on your part. It won’t be our only communication, but it is a start. Subsequent oral briefings complement what you write and clarify any inconsistencies, and develop focus through mutual agreement. This process of developing, discussing and agreeing is actually my first value proposition to you. By completing the requested brief I have supplied to you, together, we can focus on what it is you are expecting from my activity and what you expect me to produce, return, and in what time frame. The written brief also ensures buy-in from any other key people in your organization. It allows everyone to challenge key assumptions in the brief, and reduces changes in scope and direction before finalizing my assignment and having me begin my work.
The best briefs are not the longest or most detailed. They are the ones whose clarity and focus creates the platform for a great strategic leap and customer delight with an effective solution. They are a summation of your thinking. Please try to attach all relevant supporting information requested as appendices.