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How to write a Great Digital Transformation Project Brief

Top practical tips and insights

Whether you are briefing internal teams, software providers or digital partners, getting the brief right is pivotal in getting the right result. This article takes you through the main things to be aware of when getting your requirements down on paper.

1. Define how you want to work

With such a lot being written about Agile and other project methodologies at the moment, it’s important to describe how you want to engage as clearly as possible.

How to write a Great Digital Transformation Project Brief | i3 Digital

Digital Transformation can act as a catalyst for wider organisational change. If you’ve got the green light to introduce collaborative working but don’t know quite how to do it, tell your suppliers. Lots of digital transformation enablement partners have experience with this. Most established businesses don’t have any experience in truly collaborative working. It is only through asking the right questions, knowing who you need to talk to and how to provide reassurance to management at key points that the right conditions for Agile projects are created.

Similarly, if you want to award a project with a fixed scope and timeframes to a supplier just to increase your departmental output, it helps if suppliers know from the outset. This avoids suppliers trying to ask questions which demonstrate their strategic capability when all you want to know is whether they have availability.

2. Define how you want to buy

Whether it’s an open tender or a less formal Request for Proposal, be clear on how you want suppliers to respond.

How to write a Great Digital Transformation Project Brief | i3 Digital

We’ve lost count of the number of potential clients who want to have Open Tenders and have initial chemistry sessions… until 30 suppliers want to speak to them within a two-week period. If you do want to have exploratory conversations but have to use a tender process, consider engaging before you are constrained by fair and proper procurement processes.

Similarly, if it is a two-part buying process, telling suppliers will mean you don’t get lots of 100-page documents which try to include everything that you could ever want to know at the first stage.

3. Don’t Overscope

Normally digital transformation involves software products or agency services that you don’t know that well. It’s important to know when to stop your own scoping.

How to write a Great Digital Transformation Project Brief | i3 Digital

Our experience has been that customers who try to define too much, struggle to achieve anything at all. One project we were involved with a few years ago, had been restarted twice because of over-scoping. The client had 9 definition documents, written over an 18-month period, covering seven business systems, all spread over 400 pages of A4 (written in size 10 font with not enough pictures). Even a team of geniuses would struggle to work in this way.

A better approach is to make the main requirements as clear as possible. Communicating software versions and what they do will also give experienced transformation partners enough to understand broadly what is needed.

4. Identify what success looks like

Whether it's leads, sales, operational efficiencies or simply adapting user experience to support a new brand roll-out make it clear.

How to write a Great Digital Transformation Project Brief | i3 Digital

This can be very complex or really simple. We’ve had clients in the past who have specified targets for ‘channel shift’, where they move sales from telephone-supported enquiries to pure eCommerce. We’ve also had big clients who have simple targets, like increasing market share by 5%. It always helps if goals come with measurable targets.

Some of the time achieving big results like improvements to market share, require lots of partners working together. If suppliers know this early, it makes a big difference in how they suggest engaging with your organisation and supplier network.

 5. Be prepared to communicate a budgetary range

Whilst it isn’t always advisable to publish your budgets, it is a good idea to know the ballpark you are in. The alternative might mean that you need to renegotiate budgets after appointing suppliers and potentially having to choose cheaper suppliers previously discounted on quality grounds.

How to write a Great Digital Transformation Project Brief | i3 Digital

We always try to make sure there is a shared understanding of what the budget is as part of the buying process. There are lots of ways of controlling costs if budgets are tight, such as agreeing on what work can be done by the client-side team, phased deliveries or removing nice to have functionality. This normally forms the basis of a more constructive conversation based on getting optimum value for money. Top Tip: This gets better value than just asking suppliers to knock 10% off the bill.

Summing up

There’s a lot to be said for keeping it simple. If you are struggling we’ve got plenty of resources you could use to help, including this digital project planner which has been used by a number of our clients to brief in completely new projects and system upgrades.

Interested in learning more? Then check out our latest insights for more great digital marketing topics and industry trends.


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