If neither you nor your colleagues were able to figure out what the client wants you to do, you should prepare a list of concise questions.
I usually start such a list from the first minutes of my analysis of the client's instructions. I split my workstation into two screens, opening a document with the comments on one, and a query sheet on the other. I look through each comment and when I have a question, I add it to the query sheet right away, so that I don't forget about it. It happens that by the time I'm done going through the instructions, I find the answers to some of my questions. But it only takes a few seconds to delete a question that I no longer need answered. It's much more difficult and lengthy to remember all of the questions I had when reading the instructions.
«elow, I jotted down a few examples of such questions. They may seem silly at first, but my experience tells me that it's better to ask a silly question before you launch a project, then to redo something that you thought was right, but in fact, misunderstood.
- A cell in the instructions is crossed out. Do you want us to delete it or cross it out in the target document, as well?
- The email says that you need us to translate the document into 15 languages, while the instructions you attached mention 14. Arabic is missing in the instructions. Do you need us to provide the translation into Arabic?
- You ask us to add a logo to the first page of the target document, but didn't include the image. When can we expect to get it?
- There's a sentence that's highlighted in the document, but there's no comment to it. Is there something special we need to do with the sentence?
I try not to start the project before receiving the answers to my questions from the client. This helps me to avoid confusing the project team and/or redoing something that was already done based on a false assumption.
As soon as I receive the answers, I simplify them much like the rest of the instructions and make them clear for everyone who will be working on the project. Finally, I can brief the project team and be sure that they will understand everything correctly.