Atom CTO: The importance of a project / product brief

The Atom Team

A project (or product) brief that clearly lays out the requirements of a tech project will save you many headaches later on. It serves as a blueprint to keep you on track, and most importantly, it can help to save you from wasting time and money on unnecessary tasks once development begins.

Whether your tech team is based in-house or outsourced, a good product brief can act as the foundation to a successful tech project.

Building a house

You’ll hear this analogy a lot from us at Atom CTO. You wouldn’t go to an architect or an estate agent with a budget and say ‘I need a house!’ Because of individual expectations and preferences, there are many questions to answer such as ‘How many bedrooms do you need?’, ‘What location do you want to live in?’, ‘Do you want a big or small garden?’’ etc.

The same goes for a tech project, lots of the finer details and expectations are often in people’s heads, but everyone is different and if the delivery team has to make assumptions, then the client is bound to be disappointed with the final product. The process of putting together a brief enables you to translate your requirements into a language that everyone will understand. It also means that there’s less room for misunderstandings and mistakes further down the line.

Building everything at once

Most founders want everything at once, and at minimal cost. By setting out requirements in a brief document, it helps founders break down what they actually need and helps them know exactly what they must prioritise in order to get an MVP (minimal viable product). When you know how much time and resources are needed for each stage of the project, it gives you a realistic idea of what’s possible.

Roadmap planning

Due to the detail included in the product brief, it can make the process of creating the roadmap a whole lot easier. Once the project has been broken down into deliverable chunks, naturally it can help the development team plan future releases, resources and team capacity.  It will also help you be more flexible for change, as you release new features and the market responds, you may want to change the original roadmap and go in a different direction.

Knowing the risks

Nothing ever goes to plan, unexpected things happen. A product brief can give more flexibilty to a project and enables the team to pivot focus if the need arises. Outside forces such as pandemics, talent shortages and competitor activity can all have an impact on delivery. The brief process helps you become aware and be prepared for possible risks so that you have a stategy to keep the project afloat and make necessary changes without too much disruption.

Key parts of a project / product brief

  • Business background: Developers need to understand your business so that they can help advise on how features should be built. Understanding the commercial model will also help when you look at costs for operating the platform that will be delivered and knowing the launch strategy will help the team developing the product know what support will be needed when you go live.
  • Stakeholder map: Who are the key players that will use your platform, employees, customers, vendors. Defining the stakeholders and what relationship they have with your business and platform will help define the process flows.
  • Data: Data is the key asset for any company and knowing what data needs to be collected, what reports need to be produced and how business success can be measured will help the design of the platform
  • Process flows and user journeys: It is important that the exact flows of how people will use the system. Breaking down the user journeys helps identify the key value chains within the business and where the main focus should be from a tech perspective.
  • Screen and feature breakdowns: Building on the user journeys a brief will also breakdown what screens are necessary and what features they need to support, this will provide UI / UX experts and designers understand how to make the user experience the best possible.
  • Operations and support: An app is not a business, once the platform is built it needs to be supported and the brief will outline what other tech may be needed to support the daily operations
  • Security and Compliance: No sector or industry is free from some regulation and the brief will also describe how the specific rules you need to comply with will be supported by the platform

Is a product or project brief worth the hassle?

In a word… yes! If you’re spending tens of thousands on development, then you want to make sure it’s done right. A brief will help you do all the thinking and requirements scoping up front which will increase the likelihood of a successful project.

If you’d like a hand with your product brief, then check out the our Product Blueprint service.

Listen to the podcast

In this mini-podcast, two of our Atom CTO experts, Bhairav Patel and Jenny Tsaliki, talk about the importance of creating a project brief and defining exactly what you expect from the outcome of the project in order to see the best and most successful results delivered.

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