Selecting a good software development company is a task that demands time and preparation. Not only to research and start contacting potential providers but also to invest some time in writing a detailed resume of your project. Defining the specifications, functionalities, and goals for your product is key at this initial stage in order to get the most adequate and personalized proposals.
A Software Development Brief is the document that will contain the main idea and vision behind the project. It could become an overwhelming activity but as you go forward you will notice the project becomes even more clear for you and your company. This will help to land your expectations and use it as a guideline to present your project to the potential development providers.
It is important to keep it simple and to keep in mind that we are writing a “brief” and not a “manual”, however we should provide enough details for software developers to understand the tasks, flows, processes and functionalities the project must incorporate.
1. Introduce Your Company
Yes, you also need to introduce yourself with information about your company that also helps the consultant to decide if they are the right vendor for you.
Shorty explain what your business does, what is the market you cover and if possible or available share information about previous development projects and their results.
Type of professional activity
Your company location and HQ
Corporate contact information
Previous relevant projects (optional)
2. Share The Project Overview
Help the software development company understand the purpose of this project.
Start by describing the problem
The main concept of the project
The type of software development (a web/mobile app, a CMS, a CRM etc.)
What are the audience and the user benefits?
What are the expected business benefits?
You can mention your competitors in order to explain specific issues in which other companies don’t offer that solution and even examples of what you don’t like from your competitors' software.
3. Define Target End-Users
If you want to put the focus on end-users, define the target persona you need to impress with your software.
Demographics (age, gender, location, etc.)
Their interests and preferences
The apps they typically use (if applicable)
It is also important to mention if the software should be available for both mobile and desktop use, which one does your target audience use more? Sometimes the customer believes they “need” both, when actually a software development consultant can help you decide if you actually need to invest in both according to the project’s goals.
4. Write Down the Functionality Requirements
Explain how you want different elements of your software to function. Functionality requirements define what needs to happen when users activate certain functions.
The functionality requirements will give insight to the software development company about the scope of work that awaits them. They’ll be able to understand what features they need to build and consider the amount of effort required to complete the job.
5. Define Technical Requirements
Technical requirements refer to technical specifications and the platform that your software will run on.
Will the software work offline, online, or both
Will the software be integrated (or provide integration possibility) with other software
The devices on which your software should run on
Whether there is a need for data synchronization
Whether this is a redesign or a completely new project
Infrastructure restrictions if it applies - remember that poor planning of your infrastructure may run up your bill very quickly.
6. Set Non-Functional Requirements
Elements like security, performance, concurrent user load times, and auditing specifications.
Regardless of the type of software (web, app, or other), describing these non-functional requirements while writing a software development project brief can ensure that your software runs smoothly.
7. Design Ideas
If you have an idea of how you want the software to look visually, describe it here. If you have detailed mock-ups or just simple wireframes, this would be helpful for the software development agency to understand the UI and UX of the product.
8. Estimate the Deadline and Budget
The plans might change during development due to unexpected circumstances. However you can provide an estimated budget and timeframe for the completion of the project. This will be helpful before discussing all the details with the developers. Remember to set realistic expectations - as a common mistake managers make when estimating software projects is to think that more people can deliver a product faster - 9 women can’t deliver a baby in 1 month.
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In conclusion, don’t feel overwhelmed to write a perfect brief for your software or app on the first try. Try to apply your practical and technical experience and make a draft that helps you to discuss with your potential vendor for a good solution.