Project Brief

In the feasibility step, you figured out the “why” of your project and either built your confidence to forge ahead with your startup or got backing to proceed. The project brief is the living document that brings together the “why” with the “what” and “when” and “who.” It’s “living” because, as you progress, your knowledge, understanding, and path may change. To leave this document once written and never to return to it just consigns your thoughts to a point in time. In an Agile world, your point-in-time reference may change weekly or even daily early on, so it’s important to keep this fresh.

·         A great tool for encapsulating and maintaining your project brief is something that Jonathan Rasmusson calls the “inception deck” in his book The Agile Samurai. Here, you’ll find great advice on ensuring that everybody that is interested in, affected by, or involved with your project is on the same page.

·         The greatest enemy to delivering projects is in having an unclear, inconsistent, or just plain different understanding of what the project is and what “requirements” are to be satisfied. If even one important stakeholder has a different understanding or view of what you’re doing, the consequences can be substantial.

·         A good project brief communicates:

1.      A common and agreed-upon expectation between stakeholders and team members.

2.      An understanding of the project, with the same understanding across all parties.

3.      The goal, vision, objective, scope, and project context.

·         You’ll have a lot of good information for the brief gathered from feasibility. The project brief will help you define and find the answers to searching questions. It will bring together stakeholders, your raison d’etre, high-level scope, risks, target solution, budget, timeline, expectations, and priorities.

A colleague stopped me in a corridor once and asked me where he could get the project brief for the project. I quipped ‘We don’t need a brief, we’re Agile’. He looked confused, as if he was questioning my sanity or authority. He was right to do so.

Before you proceed, ensure you’ve got everybody on the same page, workshop it, ask the difficult questions, and nail it up somewhere where people can stop, read it, comment on it, and help revise it.

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