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What Is Project Description: Key Criteria and Steps

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21st May, 2024
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    What Is Project Description: Key Criteria and Steps

    Many companies use templates, and it's super handy to drag and drop them into proposals for a quick fix. But here's the thing – it can make your proposal sound dull and generic. The reason? We often forget to update key details, like project descriptions, after the initial setup.

    So, let me ask you: When was the last time you updated your project descriptions? It's like giving them a fresh coat of paint to keep things interesting. If it's been a while, now might be the perfect time to jazz them up. Let's make sure your proposals don't end up feeling like everyone else's – give them a little extra flair! In this post, I am going to talk about how to make our project descriptions better. Instead of just using the usual templates, I will show you ways to make them exciting and stand out. So, let's dive in and discover simple strategies to make our projects sound more exciting and unique.

    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. For those unfamiliar, a project description example can offer a clearer picture of how these documents are typically drafted. A Project Description is created 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.

    Why Is It Important to Write a Project Description? 

    Writing a project description is crucial for several reasons: 

    • Clarity of Purpose: The purpose, goals, and objectives of the project are succinctly and clearly stated in a well-written project description. It acts as a roadmap, bringing all team members and interested parties together around a shared understanding of the project's objectives. 
    • Communication: The project description serves as a medium for communication, keeping team members and stakeholders alike informed. It removes uncertainty and promotes a common understanding of the objectives.  
    • Definition of Scope: A project description aids in defining the parameters and restrictions by describing the extent of the work. As a result, scope creep is avoided, and the project remains concentrated on its original goals. 
    • Effective risk identification and management can be achieved by clearly defining the project's goals and possible obstacles in the project description. Teams can create plans to deal with potential problems before they become more serious because of this proactive approach.  
    • Effective resource allocation, including staff, time, and money, is facilitated by a thorough project description. It offers a resource planning roadmap, assisting teams in allocating duties and responsibilities effectively.  
    • Making Decisions: Well-informed decisions are derived from a thorough project description. It gives stakeholders and project managers the knowledge they need to make strategic decisions at every stage of the project's lifespan. 

    When Should You Write a Project Description? 

    As the fundamental document that directs the whole project lifecycle, writing a project description is essential in the early phases of project planning. It usually starts at the project's inception and explains its objectives, viability, and purpose. The project description is improved as it moves closer to the planning stage by adding specific details about the goals, deliverables, schedule, scope, and resource needs. 

    Giving stakeholders access to this extensive document guarantees everyone is on the same page regarding the project's vision and helps the team work towards a unified objective. Project managers can evaluate the possible effects of decisions on project objectives by using the project description as a point of reference while making decisions. It also acts as a risk assessment tool, assisting in the early detection and proactive management of possible hazards. The project description greatly aids, all things considered, good project management, alignment, and communication. 

    Components of a Project Description 

    A comprehensive project description is crucial for effectively communicating a project's purpose, scope, and goals. Here are key components to include in a project description: 

    • Project Title: Begin with a clear and engaging title that succinctly conveys the essence of the project. 
    • Introduction: Provide a brief overview of the project, including its context, significance, and relevance to the organization or stakeholders. 
    • Project Objectives: Clearly state the specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives of the project. 
    • Scope of Work: Define the project's boundaries by specifying what is included and excluded. Clearly outline the project's scope to manage expectations. 
    • Deliverables: Detail the tangible outcomes or products that the project will produce. This helps stakeholders understand what to expect. 
    • Methodology or Approach: Describe the methods and strategies employed to achieve the project objectives. Include any unique approaches or innovations. 
    • Timeline and Milestones: Provide a high-level timeline outlining the project's significant phases and key milestones. This helps in tracking progress and managing deadlines. 
    • Budget and Resources: Specify the financial requirements, including direct costs (materials, equipment) and indirect costs (personnel, overhead). Detail the necessary resources and their allocation. 
    • Stakeholders: Identify and describe the primary stakeholders involved in or affected by the project. Consider internal and external stakeholders and their roles. 
    • Risk Management: Highlight potential risks and uncertainties associated with the project. Include a plan for risk mitigation and contingency measures. 
    • Monitoring and Evaluation: Outline how the project's progress will be monitored and evaluated. Describe the key performance indicators (KPIs) used to measure success. 
    • Communication Plan: Detail how communication will be managed throughout the project. Identify key communication channels, frequency, and stakeholders involved. 
    • Team Members and Roles: Introduce the project team members, their roles, and responsibilities. Include any external partners or consultants if applicable. 
    • Approval Process: Clarify the process for obtaining approvals at various project stages. This ensures alignment with organizational protocols. 
    • Conclusion: Summarize the key points and reiterate the project's importance. Conclude with any next steps or actions required. 

    By including these components, a project description becomes a comprehensive document that thoroughly understands the project and facilitates effective communication with stakeholders. 

    Project Description Types 

    Project descriptions can take various forms, depending on the project's nature and the intended audience. Here are several types of project descriptions: 

    • Abstract:  

    The abstract is a concise and informative project summary, typically used for informational purposes. It briefly overviews the project's objectives, methods, and expected outcomes. The abstract is often utilized in research papers, academic proposals, or project documentation to give readers a quick understanding of the project without delving into detailed specifics. It is typically a few paragraphs in length, highlighting the key aspects of the project. 

    • Elevator Pitch:  

    The elevator pitch is a brief and persuasive description of a project that can be delivered in the time it takes to ride an elevator, usually around 30 seconds to 2 minutes. This type of description is designed to captivate and engage the listener quickly. It focuses on the most compelling aspects of the project, aiming to grab the attention of potential stakeholders, investors, or decision-makers. The elevator pitch is often used to "sell" the project idea, emphasizing its value and impact. 

    • Short Project Description:  

    The short project description provides a quick and summarized overview of how the project will be implemented. It includes vital details such as project goals, methods, and reasons for undertaking the project. This description type is meant to be easily digestible, offering stakeholders a snapshot of the project's essentials. It is helpful for initial project introductions, presentations, or project summaries. The short project description may also touch on thmotivations behind the project, helping stakeholders understand its significance. 

    • Grant Proposal: 

    A specific project proposal is designed to secure funding from a grant-making organization. It should follow the guidelines and format required by the grantor and clearly demonstrate how your project aligns with their funding priorities. 

    • Business Plan: 

    document outlining the operational and financial aspects of a new business or venture. It should include your target market, competitive analysis, marketing strategy, financial projections, and funding requirements. 

    • Full Project Proposal: 

    A comprehensive document outlining your project in detail. It typically includes all the elements of a short description, a literature review, research methodology, detailed budget, risk assessment, and evaluation plan. 

    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. 

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    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

    Project Description Checklist 

    Creating a project description requires careful consideration of various elements to ensure clarity, completeness, and alignment with project goals. Here is a checklist to guide you through the process of crafting a comprehensive project description: 

    Title: 

    • Is the project title clear, concise, and reflective of the project's essence? 

    Introduction: 

    • Does the introduction provide a brief overview of the project, setting the context for readers? 
    • Is the significance of the project clearly communicated? 

    Objectives: 

    • Are the project objectives specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART)? 
    • Are both short-term and long-term objectives clearly stated? 

    Scope of Work: 

    • Is the project's scope well-defined, including what is included and excluded? 
    • Are any limitations or constraints acknowledged? 

    Deliverables: 

    • Are the expected deliverables clearly outlined? 
    • Do the deliverables align with the project objectives? 

    Methodology or Approach: 

    • Is the methodology or approach described sufficiently for stakeholders to understand the project's implementation? 
    • Are any innovative or unique strategies highlighted? 

    Timeline and Milestones: 

    • Is the project timeline clearly presented, indicating significant phases and milestones? 
    • Are key deadlines realistic and achievable? 

    Budget and Resources: 

    • Is the budget specified, including both direct and indirect costs? 
    • Are resource requirements, including personnel, equipment, and materials, detailed? 

    Stakeholders: 

    • Have all primary stakeholders, both internal and external, been identified? 
    • Is there clarity on the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder? 

    Risk Management: 

    • Have potential risks been identified, and is there a plan for risk mitigation? 
    • Is there a contingency plan in place for unforeseen challenges? 

    Monitoring and Evaluation: 

    • Are key performance indicators (KPIs) defined for monitoring project progress? 
    • Is there a clear plan for evaluating the project's success? 

    Communication Plan: 

    • Is there a defined communication plan outlining channels, frequency, and key messages? 
    • Have communication preferences for different stakeholders been considered? 

    Team Members and Roles: 

    • Are project team members introduced, and are their roles and responsibilities clearly outlined? 
    • Is there a plan for collaboration and coordination among team members? 

    Approval Process: 

    • Is the process for obtaining approvals at various stages clearly defined? 
    • Are there checkpoints for stakeholder input and feedback? 

    Conclusion and Next Steps: 

    • Does the conclusion effectively summarize key points and reiterate the project's importance? 
    • Are the next steps or actions required clearly communicated? 

    By systematically reviewing these elements, you can ensure that your project description is thorough, well-structured, and effectively communicates the project's purpose and execution plan. 

    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. For guidance, consider reviewing a project description example. 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.  

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    Project Description vs Project Proposal 

    Feature 

    Product Description 

    Project Proposal 

    Purpose 

    Provides an overview of the project, its goals, and scope. 

    Seeks approval and funding for the project. 

    Audience 

    Primarily for internal stakeholders or team members. 

    It is aimed at external stakeholders, sponsors, or investors. 

    Content 

    Describe what the project is about, its objectives, and its context. 

    Includes details on project goals, timeline, budget, and methodology. 

    Level of Detail 

    Generally, it is less detailed. 

    More detailed, including specific plans and strategies. 

    Timing 

    Created before the project starts. 

    Developed during the project initiation or planning phase. 

    Perspective 

    Emphasizes the 'what' and 'why' of the project. 

    Focuses on 'how' the project will be executed and managed. 

    Approval Requirement 

    It may not require formal approval. 

    Usually, it requires approval from relevant stakeholders. 

    Document Type 

    It could be a brief document or a section within a larger document. 

    A standalone document presenting a formal proposal. 

    Components 

    It may include a project overview, objectives, and high-level strategy. 

    Typically includes an executive summary, project details, budget, and timeline. 

    Emphasis on Creativity 

    More focused on conveying the project concept. 

    Balanced with practical details to gain support. 

    How a Project Manager Turns a Project Description into a Project Plan? 

    1. Use the tools you want 

    Transforming the approved project description into an actionable project plan is pivotal to successful project execution. Leveraging Project Manager, an online project management tool, provides real-time capabilities to ensure objectives are met within the specified schedule and budget. 

    The Gantt chart, an excellent visual planning tool for project managers, may not be the most user-friendly for teams tasked with execution. Recognizing this, the Project Manager offers diverse project views, all synchronized in real-time. This flexibility empowers teams to select tools aligned with their preferences. Whether it's the detailed task lists for meticulous planning or the visual flow of a kanban board for streamlined workflows, Project Manager caters to varied work styles. This adaptability enhances collaboration, fosters efficiency, and ultimately contributes to the successful realization of project goals. 

    1. Monitor progress and performance in realtime 

    Empowering teams with the flexibility to choose their preferred working methods doesn't translate to a lack of managerial oversight. Project Manager offers a real-time dashboard feature that automatically collects data on various project metrics such as time, costs, and workload. These metrics are then presented in easily understandable graphs and charts. The best part is that this functionality is plug-and-play, requiring no intricate setup compared to lighter-weight alternatives. 

    Stakeholders who are keen on staying updated on project progress may not need the high-level overview of a dashboard. To cater to their needs, the Project Manager provides customizable reports offering more significant detail. With just a few keystrokes, generate status reports, project variance reports, and more, and effortlessly share them with stakeholders. This ensures transparency, facilitates communication and keeps all relevant parties well-informed on the project's trajectory. 

    Conclusion 

    In conclusion, it's evident that the convenience of using templates for proposals can inadvertently lead to monotonous and uninspiring content. Simply put, it is your project in a nutshell, and PMP certification course online helps you create these with live example projects.  The oversight of neglecting to refresh essential components, such as project descriptions, undermines the potential impact of our proposals. The question of when we last updated these descriptions is a critical reflection point. We've got a chance to improve things by adding creativity and a new angle to our project stories. Say goodbye to the bland, same-old templates – let's bring some life into our proposals. Spend a bit of time updating and improving our project descriptions. This isn't just about being different; it's about connecting with our audience. When we make our proposals exciting and unique, we're gearing up for success in a world where everyone's competing. So, let's break away from the dull routine, boost our proposals, and shine in a crowded field.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What is the introduction of project description?

    The introduction of a project description provides an overview of the project's objectives, its significance, and the primary issues or challenges it seeks to address. It sets the context and gives readers an idea of what to expect from the rest of the description.

    2What is purpose and description of the project?

    The purpose of a project defines the main objective or reason the project exists, often addressing a specific problem or need. The description of the project provides a detailed overview of what the project entails, including its scope, objectives, methods, and expected outcomes or deliverables. Essentially, while the purpose answers "why" the project is being done, the description explains "what" the project is.

    3What is the simple description of project management?

    Project management is the practice of planning, organizing, executing, and overseeing a project to achieve specific goals within a set timeframe and budget.

    Profile

    Kevin D.Davis

    Blog Author

    Kevin D. Davis is a seasoned and results-driven Program/Project Management Professional with a Master's Certificate in Advanced Project Management. With expertise in leading multi-million dollar projects, strategic planning, and sales operations, Kevin excels in maximizing solutions and building business cases. He possesses a deep understanding of methodologies such as PMBOK, Lean Six Sigma, and TQM to achieve business/technology alignment. With over 100 instructional training sessions and extensive experience as a PMP Exam Prep Instructor at KnowledgeHut, Kevin has a proven track record in project management training and consulting. His expertise has helped in driving successful project outcomes and fostering organizational growth.

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