Get It Done Right the First Time: 5 Steps to Brief Contractors Perfectly 

Have you ever worked with a contractor where it felt like you were never on the same page? No matter how many times you revised instructions or provided feedback, the deliverables just missed the mark. Living in this endless loop of miscommunication, rework, and project delays is incredibly frustrating. 

A lack of clear communication and upfront briefing is one of the leading causes of projects failing to meet expectations. Studies show that a number of employers face this struggle when working with external contractors and freelancers. 

This constant start-and-stop cycle is also an enormous drain on resources. Reworks can burn through over 40% of total project budgets and timelines on average. All that wasted money and time simply due to misalignment from the start. 

The good news is, there’s a straightforward solution: Briefing your contractors thoroughly and properly upfront. This simple step ensures everyone is 100% aligned on objectives, expectations, and success criteria before any work begins. 

The Contractor Briefing Framework 

While it may seem obvious, providing clear and comprehensive project briefs is often overlooked. An effective contractor brief goes far beyond just listing out requirements. It creates a solid foundation for mutual understanding and sets the engagement up for success. Here is a proven 5-step framework: 

Step 1: Clearly Define Scope and Deliverables 

Don’t make contractors attempt to read between the lines. Explicitly spell out the specific deliverables, assets, and output you expect in an air-tight Statement of Work.  

Example: “Contractor will provide 10 social media ad visual designs sized for Facebook and Instagram feeds based on provided brand guidelines and messaging by [DUE DATE].” 

Step 2: Articulate Your “Why” 

It’s not enough to just dictate what you need – give some critical context around the “why” behind the project as well. Explain the core objectives, challenges you’re aiming to solve and how this piece fits into the bigger picture strategy. This added perspective allows contractors to make better-informed decisions. 

For example: “The overall goal of these social media designs is to drive more e-commerce traffic and product purchases from our Instagram and Facebook channels. We’ve seen success with influencer campaigns in these spaces already, so these new creative assets will be leveraged in that paid strategy to further convert social traffic at a lower cost per acquisition.” 

Step 3: Provide Context and Constraints 

In addition to explaining the “why”, also provide important context around any constraints or guardrails for the project. This could include: 

  • Hard deadlines and timelines 
  • Budget limitations 
  • Existing workflows/processes to integrate with 
  • Past failures or lessons learned 
  • Brand guidelines or personas to follow 

For example: “While creativity is encouraged, final designs must align with our brand identity in the provided style guide. Assets will eventually need to go through our internal review cycles, so please build in a 5-day buffer prior to the final due date.” 

Understanding this context prevents reworks from contractors missing critical requirements. 

Step 4: Define Measurable Success 

Clearly outline how you will evaluate the success and quality of the deliverables. Provide objective rubrics or scorecards to remove any ambiguity. 

Example scoring criteria: 

  • Designs adhere to all provided brand guidelines (0-25 points) 
  • Delivers required 10 unique visual concepts (0-25 points) 
  • Showcases product positioning/value props (0-25 points) 
  • Visuals are high-quality, polished, and publish-ready (0-25 points) 

Step 5: Open Communication Channels 

Even with thorough briefs, questions will inevitably arise. Facilitate open communication by providing collaboration tools and opportunities for quick feedback loops. 

By enabling free-flowing communication, you can quickly course-correct before minor misunderstandings become costly delays. 

Launching projects with contractors through guesswork inevitably leads to missed expectations and wasted time/money. Instead, start all engagements with comprehensive upfront briefs. 

By following the five (5) steps above – clearly defining scope, providing strategic context, setting measurable goals, anticipating constraints, and facilitating open communication – you’ll ensure everyone is 100% aligned from day one. 

The small extra effort upfront to brief thoroughly prevents costly miscommunications and reworks down the line. With alignment baked into the foundation, you can confidently manage contractors to deliver high-quality results on time, every time. 


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