How to Create Good Terms of Reference?

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How to Create Good Terms of Reference?

The terms of reference for the contractor is a list of wishes and requirements, often with examples, for the ordered service. They are intended to give the developer an idea of what you want to get. They need to be collected for the manager, and there are several reasons for this:

First, a detailed ToR for the development of a mobile application, website, or other software is 60% of the success of the task;

Second, if the task is very clear, the chances of completing it on time increase significantly;

Minimal edits mean minimal costs. No software development partner in Europe will make an unlimited number of changes for free;

The terms of reference or brief also have a protective function – in the event of a conflict, each party can refer to it at any time.

What do you get from a well-written ToR?

Competently drafted terms of reference minimize misunderstandings between the initiator of the task and the executor, helping to achieve an effective result. And, most importantly, it saves nerves.

What does the execution of the task depend on?

It is essential to understand that the content of such a document directly depends on the amount of work. If you already have an idea or design and need to refine it, the ToR will mostly be limited to technological requirements. But when developing an interface and product from scratch, you need to include as much detail as possible.

A list that will help to make clear ToR:

  1. Purpose of the program (consumer information, brand image building, sales, corporate CRM, etc.)
  2. Portrait of the target audience.
  3. Features of the business (main activities, key competitors);
  4. References. For example, did you see an interesting detail? Save the image in the piggy bank. Liked the interface, color combinations, fonts, and non-trivial business logic? Right-click to save the image. The output will be a folder with a selection from which you can already collect examples for the artist.
  5. A design you definitely wouldn’t want. For example, icons in the material design style are in vogue now, but you don’t like them and have yet to tell the contractor about them. Accordingly, he focuses on his sense of beauty and makes an interface he wants.

Consider the actual timing.

There are many requirements, features, restrictions, and other details to be considered by developers. And after negotiation, they will need to do all the manipulations with the code, edit the design, or even make it from scratch. It takes time, and sometimes a lot of time. It is often forgotten, and as a result, there can be severe delays. Therefore, you need to understand that you can’t have a complete program done in three days.

How do you know that everything is going right and that the artist understood what you want?

It’s simple: don’t edit too much. It can be up to 5 iterations, each of which takes no more than 2-3 hours (although, of course, on large projects, this time can be much longer). When you get the 10th version of the changes, it is clear that either the ToR is poorly made or too many people are affecting the project decision.

As a result, feel free to take the time to write thoughtful and detailed terms of reference. Do not be lazy; check your ToR before sending it to the contractor on your checklist. After all, spending a few hours on the task is better than spending your money and nerves and not getting the expected result.

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