Development of Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference, or rather its absence or incorrectness, often becomes a "stumbling block" between the customer and contractor. It would seem that all the main points have been discussed and agreed in negotiations, but in fact it turns out that many of the issues were not perceived or misunderstood by the other party. The reasons can be infinite. For example, the Customer understands what he wants to see in the end, but can not articulate it clearly to the Contractor , the Customer may lack a clear idea of the desired result or modify his decisions during negotiations. Sometimes the customer may simply not be ready for a constructive dialogue. Of course, problems can occur due to the fault of the Contractor as well, such as intentional delivery delay, mismatch of the final product with the demands of the Customer, etc.

One of the most effective ways of resolving such conflicts of interest is the development of Project Terms of Reference. Terms of Reference is a document that sets out the basic objectives of the development, product requirements, and defines terms and stages of the work, regulations for acceptance testing. Naturally, the development of Terms of Reference involves the two parties concerned, though, by and large, the main burden still lies on the Customer, because no one is able to describe his desire better than himself.

What shall we bear in mind in preparation of terms of reference?

In our view, you need to use common sense first of all. We can find two opposite point of views on this account. Some believe that terms of reference shall be written exclusively in accordance with GOSTs, and other feel that GOSTs are hopelessly outdated. Of course, it is good when there is a document you can rely upon, you can't be sure that terms of reference drawn up in accordance with GOST will be any viable. Each project is unique, and if all of them could fit in one pattern, such universal terms of reference would have been composed long ago, and all problems would be resolved automatically.

However, questions remain, which means something in the system is not working. We still have to go back to the basics and accept the fact that terms of reference need to be developed by ourselves, in the course of negotiations. This raises another problem: not everyone is able to express their ideas correctly and effectively, so that they are understood by the final performers. Negotiations tend to be carried out by managers, sometimes heads of organizations, but the main work is done by other people. That is why it is so important to develop terms of reference correctly, so that the result meets expectations.

Some useful tips

There is no single "recipe" for making the ideal Terms of Reference, of course, but numerous trials and errors led to development of a unique guidance on working out the Terms of Reference.

  • before undertaking the development of Terms of Reference, think about what kind of end result you want. The more precisely you can imagine it, the easier it will be to describe it. You may need drawings or diagrams, do not ignore any means.
  • gather all documentation that may be useful to you or your partner in the process of working out the Terms of Reference;
  • in developing Terms of Reference, try to get rid of vague descriptions, superfluous words and specific terminology. Make sure that you and your partner equally understand the meaning of the remaining terms;
  • if possible, discuss the completed terms of reference with the final contractor, give him the opportunity to ask questions;
  • Allocate extra time for testing the work performed and correction of the possible errors.

Of course, no one is immune from mistakes, they help us to get invaluable experience. However, errors in the development of Terms of Reference may lead you to serious problems. Our company offers assistance in the development of Terms of Reference for organizations. We have our own rich experience of cooperation with companies in various fields. We know in what "language" Terms of Reference should be written to be understood by your partners. Entrusting development of Terms of Reference to our company, you can be sure that your intentions will be reflected in it as accurate as possible.

If you are interested in our proposal regarding the development of Terms of Reference, or if you wish to receive additional information associated with them, we will be happy to answer all your questions by phone +7 (812) 459 49 39.


We will prepare a quotation for Terms of Reference development and then send it to you. Remember that the more information you provide, the more precise our offer will be.

from 40 000 rub/2 weeks