I’ve started to notice a recurring trend in the briefs and request for proposals we receive. Every one we’ve reviewed of late has one line in it that is totally out of sync with the rest of the document’s content.
This line is guaranteed to contain:
- a buzzword or two
- an adjective that really isn’t necessary
- and finish with a lofty business goal
There will be no further information or indication of what this tool/feature is and how it should work, just this one line.
Here’s a perfect example:
“We understand the importance of social media so we need to develop a vibrant social network so that we can provide unrivaled customer support services online.”
Um, ok – but what does this actually mean?
Well, after a few phone calls back and forth we managed to nail down what it is they thought they actually wanted and what that sentence was supposed to convey:
- Facebook page/Twitter account so they could provide customer service in an open manner (until they realised that they weren’t prepared to encourage their customers to air their grievances quite so publicly).
- password-protected pages for sharing various documents (no vibrancy required!).
The absurd thing we also came across when we dug a little deeper was that:
- no one would take responsibility for authoring the actual line
- none of their staff wanted to use the tools requested
- there was no operational capacity to use those tools even if they had wanted to
- there was no strategy behind why they should be using these tools
So how can that happen to a brief? How can a document that is meant to establish a clear understanding of a project’s requirements end up hampering that very process?
Who knows, is the honest answer but I really don’t like it.
My best guess is that these one-liners get tacked-on just as a brief is being sent out.
To make sure we consider and cost absolutely everything – even the things that in reality no one wants or needs.
This obviously doesn’t help anyone so rather than just whinging about things (like I’ve done in this post) I’m going to start scribbling down some thoughts on how to develop a brief I’d appreciate receiving.
So please do give us a shout if you’ve got any tips or guidelines you’d like to share.