What Is Project Description: Key Criteria and Steps

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Last updated on
16th Sep, 2022
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22nd Oct, 2021
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What Is Project Description: Key Criteria and Steps

Before we discuss what comprises a project description, it's essential to understand what we're trying to describe in the first place, i.e., the project itself. Simply put, a project is a unique and temporary endeavor, with a fixed beginning and end. Every project aims to produce results, and this may be in the form of a product or service just the way a project management professional certification does for budding professionals. Events can also be considered projects, even something like planning a house party. Here’s why – first and foremost, it’s an event that you plan with a specific reason in mind (in most cases, it’s catching up with friends). It begins and ends at a defined time, regardless of whether your guests honor it. Lastly, while parties don’t create a product or service, it does have a purpose. 

On a more serious note, revamping your organization’s payroll system or putting reward and recognition processes in place can be defined as a project. Also, while defining projects, it’s important that you don’t mistake them with operations or operational activities. For example, creating a monthly social media engagement report is an operational activity, while deciding your social media strategy is a project. Now, let’s talk about project descriptions.

What Is a Project Description?

A Project Description is a document that outlines the details of a specific project in a structured format covering all stages of the project and the processes involved in it.  A Project Description is drafted quite early in the Project Life Cycle. It is a useful document that could be referred to for a quick understanding of what the project involves, what it aims to accomplish, and how it shall be accomplished. 

As a Project Manager, creating this document will be one of your key responsibilities early in the project. This skill will also help you when you want to improve your project management credentials.

How to Write a Project Description: Key Criteria and Steps

Let’s say you had to select an effective email service provider for your company. In that case, how would you feel if your Chief Marketing Officer thought it wasn’t as important or tried to rush the process? Pretty frustrated, because he didn’t get the context or purpose of the activity. Here is where a well-written project description comes into play. Project management courses include detailed sessions on writing the perfect project descriptions. Even if your organization isn’t the type that documents such activities, it’s a good idea to create one for your ready reference at the very least. 

Key Criteria

The following are the criteria that you need to keep in mind while drafting your project description: 

  • You should have clarity about the project that you’re undertaking. Everything from its purpose to its scope should be described such that your reader doesn’t have any questions once he’s done reading the document. 
  • You should describe the project in the simplest possible manner. However, don’t omit any important details, and never talk about other unrelated projects or events. The document should be a snapshot of the entire activity. 
  • You should include everything worth knowing about your project in its description. Of course, it shouldn’t ramble on, but everyone who reads it should have a well-rounded idea of what you’re planning to do.  
  • You should only include relevant and updated data in your description. Whatever you are writing should make sense to the purpose of your project. 

Steps in Project Description

Once you’ve understood the criteria mentioned above, you must go through the following steps while writing your project description: 

1. Summary

As the name suggests, this section should be simple and short. You should outline the whywhat, and how of your project, while keeping it within five lines at the most. 

2. Definition 

Why did this project come about in the first place? Are there any organizational pain points that you’re trying to relive? Or are you trying to tap into potential business opportunities? Whatever they may be, these are the questions that you must answer for your reader in this section. You should talk about the project’s purpose. 

3. Justification 

In the description of your project, this is the section your top stakeholders will be looking for. You must justify the reason for the project and convince your reader that it is worth the financial investment being made. It would help if you could map it to certain performance metrics of your department. The more you can convince your stakeholders that your project is essential to the organization’s efforts, the better. 

4. Evaluation 

This is a tricky section in the description of your project, because you will be measuring the benefits that you hope to gain against the costs that your organization will incur. Look at it as your typical cost-benefit-analysis. Even while planning a house party, you will think of the consequences of inviting a particular friend over, won’t you? 

5. Approach

Here, you must describe the approach that you will take to meet your project’s goals and objectives. You must be mindful of whether your organization has the operational capabilities to support the approach you plan to take. There shouldn’t be a mismatch between what you plan to do and where your organization is at. 

6. Timeline 

This step is crucial because here you must estimate the total time your project will require. You must draw up a plan that shows how many working hours each step of your project requires, along with the number of resources required. Ensure that you put enough thought into this, because your project timeline will help you stay on track for its duration. 

5 Stages of Project Management

Tips to Write a Good Project Description  

Writing a good project description is crucial. Your audience should be able to accurately understand what it’s about.  The following are a few tips that can help you. 

  • You need to be concise. You should follow the character limit (if any) while describing your project. You should be able to specify what you did in the various project stages without rambling on.  
  • Anyone who has read your project description should be able to understand the objective and your role in it. In that regard, it should be exact, well-written, and specific. Leave out unnecessary details.

Get to know more about characteristics of project management.

How to Write a Brief Description of a Project

While writing a project description, it’s important to keep it to the point and be as brief as possible. However, you should still make sure that it’s complete. You should include the project idea, the goals that need to be achieved, the approach that you’re planning to take, and the expected outcomes. Based on its idea and context, you may need to include accurate data as well. Here are some tips on how to write a brief description for a project: 

  • Keep it clear 

To keep your project description brief, you must use simple and easy-to-understand language. Your sentences should be short and free of complex words. Avoid ambiguous terms or instructions. 

  • Keep it crisp 

Your project description should be to the point while also describing the project fully. Ensure you talk only about your project and its aspects, while avoiding any information about other projects. Such Information will most likely make your reader miss out on important points about the actual project. 

  • Keep it complete   

Your project description should cover all aspects of the project. It should inform your reader about everything they need to know. It does need to be concise, but not at the cost of missing out on critical points. Your stakeholders should be able to understand the project plan and its context accurately.  

What Is a Project Description in a Project Proposal?

In a project description, your project proposal section should give your reader an overview of what you're aiming to do. The questions "What are you trying to achieve?" and "Why are you doing this?" should be clearly answered once anyone finishes reading your project proposal.  

As mentioned earlier, the proposal should be clear and precise. It should outline the project background and justification for the same. You should convince the reader about the project's need, and outline what existing efforts have already been put in that area. End strongly by detailing the value-add your project is supposed to bring to the organization.

What Is a Project Description in a Thesis?

In a thesis, your project description section is something that you write with the help of your supervisor or guide. Even in a thesis, your project description should answer roughly the same questions we talked about in the last paragraph. It should precisely define the scope of your project. You should outline everything you need to successfully complete a project, and how you are going to go about it.  Think of it as a brief based on which you will be judged when your thesis ends.

What Is a Project Description in a PMP Application?

While writing the project description for your Project Management Professional (PMP) application, it should be as concise and to the point as possible. The project objective and outcome should both be brief, and your project deliverables should be spread across the various project stages.  

Conclusion 

As the above article illustrates, a project description is an essential document that provides your audience with a comprehensive overview of the project. Simply put, it is your project in a nutshell, and PMP certification course online helps you create these with live example projects. Descriptions help your reader properly understand the project's scope as well as its potential. Think of it as the written version of an elevator pitch. After reading it, the top stakeholders in your organization should be convinced that it is a viable endeavor and worth the financial investment. 

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