[thelist] Scope document - need help writing one

Peter-Paul Koch gassinaumasis at hotmail.com
Wed Apr 17 13:02:01 CDT 2002

>However, I'm having trouble with a number of my clients, not quite getting
>it. They want whole new sections, pages, content management systems etc. at
>no extra charge. Ha. Or they haven't really paid attention to the proposal
>so that they haven't figured out how they'll pay for maintenance for a site
>that is built to be updated every week. etc. etc. etc.

First of all, it's their problem, not yours. That said, I suppose you want
to keep them as clients so you have to pay some attention to their needs.

>So how do I write out something that explains exactly what I'll build in
>the site without it being so long, detailed and incomprehensible that they
>don't read it? What do y'all put in a scope document, and how do you
>present the info so people who aren't tech-savvy can understand it? And
>lastly, but perhaps most importantly, how do I get them to pay attention to
>what I've written?

Create a short, general, reusable description of a website as you usually
build them. Explain everything slowly and carefully (what are HTML pages,
what are hyperlinks, navigation, CMS etc. etc.) Make sure it isn't longer
than, say, five pages, and add some pretty pictures they can stare at.

Don't know how good your writing skills are, but if you doubt them maybe you
should hire a pro just once. Make sure the text is general so you can use it
time and again. Do you always use the same chapter names and order in your
official scope documents? Include them in the short description, too, and
explain what they mean.
Finally, it's a well known fact that people don't read what you send them.
If they don't, it's their problem, not yours. Write a standard email that
carefully explains they only get the functionality described in the official
scope document and whenever they complain or ask extra stuff, send it.

I suppose you should get rid of those clients who still don't understand
after five or six times. They're just not worth the trouble.


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