This June, Digiday dubbed creative briefs “the worst pieces of communication in history.” And in a survey of 1,200 agency executives, not one participant said the creative briefs they receive are always complete and focused.

So how, given that they’re intended to align team members’ and stakeholders’ creative visions, did creative briefs get a bad name? If they’re inherently flawed, why did they become such staples of creative agencies?

Well, the short answer is that creative briefs aren’t doomed to fail. My company has leveraged creative briefs for everything from Tiny Eye, a seek-and-find VR game, to “Chelsea Handler: Gotta Go!,“ an app featured on Chelsea’s hit Netflix show “Chelsea Does.”

The long answer is that creative briefs are valuable only when created with the project’s team and goals in mind. Marketers are writing creative briefs like they did five years ago, failing to account for shifts in the technological landscape.

Before today’s marketing and tech marriage, creative teams consisted of art directors, graphic designers, and copywriters. Today, they also include developers, UX designers, and engineers. But while modern marketers and developers often share responsibilities on creative projects, they all-too-often don’t share a team mentality.

Their perceived differences can lead to real divisions. When those divisions result in a product that doesn’t adhere to stakeholders’ expectations, the creative brief — the document intended to unite parties’ expectations — often gets the blame.

We’re Not So Different, You and I

The solution, then, isn’t to scrap creative briefs: It’s to convince marketers and developers that the other has ideas worth listening to.

Fortunately, while marketers and developers see themselves as worlds apart, the reality is that the two have more in common than many people think. Most important, they share objectives. They’re jointly responsible for delivering a product on-time and on-budget. If one fails, everyone fails. Moreover, marketers rely on the same processes that developers do. They adhere to best practices, research new methods, and invest in user testing.

Given their similarities, it shouldn’t be surprising that marketers can take tips from developers to craft better briefs:

1. Focus on user stories

User stories are quite simple: “As a [type of user], I want [goal] because of [reason].”

These keep developers focused — which isn’t so simple — on the features and functionality most important to a product’s audience. Without clear user stories, developers who are eager to try new technologies sometimes pack products with unplanned features.

Hoping to maximize their reach, some well-meaning marketers also add unscheduled features to products. Instead, marketers should adhere to user stories in order to target a particular audience with defined needs. Only when creatives know exactly who they’re trying to reach can they create something that resonates.

2. Make prototyping part of the process

No longer are developers limited to desktop or mobile. Now, they’re choosing among a dozen platforms and, if that’s not enough, they’re incorporating technologies from virtual reality to beacons.

Marketers, like developers, must constantly learn new platforms, experiment with tools, and test with real users. When they misunderstand the team’s capabilities and technological limitations, it’s easy to make false feasibility assumptions. The result is often a half-baked product that never gets shipped because of unbuildable key features.

By borrowing developers’ penchant for prototyping and “fail fast” mentality, marketers can conduct market research without locking themselves into unworkable technologies or concepts.

3. Research, test, build, repeat

To architect hit products, developers create engineering loops. With each feature or iteration, they test new code to ensure it won’t break existing functionality. To discover where users might get stuck, they continuously conduct quality assurance testing.

With briefs, marketers should take a similar tack. Start with best practices for engaging a particular audience. Conduct research on specific tactics, and include them only if they’ve been tested with the target audience. Then, while writing the brief, ask: What needs does this product fulfill? How will users first hear about it? What’ll make them come back?

When written correctly, creative briefs are communication assets, not catastrophes. Have you mastered the creative brief, or have you replaced it with something else entirely? Share your experiences in the comments.