Creating a clear project brief is crucial for the success of your project. Learn how to communicate your vision and goals to your team in a better way.
Are you looking to work on a project with your team but don't know how to get everyone on the same page? Well, there's good news and bad news.
The good news is that a project brief will help you organize and ensure a successful project. By holding all the key information about the project in one place, a well-written project brief helps you bring your vision to your team and stakeholders.
The bad news is that the way you write your project brief can make or break your project's success. If your project brief isn't clear, there's a good chance that your team will come away from reading it with different perceptions – if they read it at all!
In this article, we'll dissect the core elements of a project brief, why they're important, and how to craft a project brief that will get your entire team working efficiently towards the same goal.
A straightforward project brief contains all the information related to your project. It is essentially a run-through of what you are hoping to achieve. In the project brief, you should be able to find everything from an overarching summary to metrics describing your project objectives. It not only hooks your team members and stakeholders but also makes them, as readers, understand the epitome of the project you're planning to manage.
In essence, a good project brief is a compact project management tool that helps your team digest the specifics you want to share. It works as a framework for coordination within your team, and with the other stakeholders involved in the project.
A project brief template can be useful to help you draft a brief for an upcoming project before presenting it to your team. When you write a project brief, the precise level of detail you go into will be entirely tailored to the project at hand, and the team working on it.
You wouldn't want your key stakeholders to fly blind to save time and costs, especially if the results don't meet your project objectives. In the same way, a project brief helps project managers guide their team in the right direction.
Here are some direct benefits of using a project brief:
Your team can't carry out all the tasks you need if they don't know what you want. Project briefs should be short and concise, conveying the essence of the project goal and the 'why'.
A good project brief lets you and your team get clear on the business objectives before the project starts. It also helps everyone involved to fulfill the project requirements effectively.
When it comes to selecting the right resources for your project, it's essential to understand exactly what you want to achieve.
By condensing the key information into a digestible document, a clear project brief helps you implement effective project management from the get-go. With clarity on the project details, you can assign a team that is a good fit for your project plan and end goals.
The terms project brief and project charter are often used interchangeably. While they share many similarities, the two documents have notable differences. A project charter authorizes the presence of the project, while a project brief provides all the key elements to start a project.
Since a project brief is an overview of your project, there are several essential components that it needs to contain, to help your team fully grasp your initiative.
Typically, a project brief contains the following information:
First up, the background of your project, which highlights the problem the project aims to address. The project background should be focused enough to help your project team members contextualize the "whys" of the project.
Defining and setting your project goals creates a positive impact on your project's productivity. These goals lead on from the previous section, by defining the solutions the project will provide to the problems.
Just as every decision in your project planning will be influenced by the background and goals of your project, it is also important to keep the target audience at the forefront of your team's minds. For example, a project promoting a product to business owners will take a different contextual approach from one promoting the same product to parents of school children.
Timelines and budgets are essential elements of any project, and your ability to work within these limitations is often a measure of project success.
The project timeline shows how long each project phase should take place. Define your project deliverables and decide each task's duration, final due date, and budget. Following a schedule and establishing a project budget helps your team reach vital milestones and avoid unnecessary expenses or delays along the way.
Project briefs can be used in a variety of contexts to provide clarity on the big picture of the entire project. For example:
Here's an example of how your project brief templates might look.
Project Name: Creation of a website for an online female footwear store
Client Name: The Shoe Story
Project Manager: Lauren O'Connor Phone (929) 566-1309
Mailing Address: 1628 Cabrini Boulevard, New York, NY 10007
Email Address: email@example.com
Purpose: Business expansion to incorporate an e-commerce website for our shoe store
Objective - Design and build a fully operational e-commerce website where female clients can purchase shoes.
Audience - Target customers are 25-40 years old females
Story: Our client wants to create an efficient web extension of her shoe shop, The Shoe Story. In the online store, female clients can choose from a wide array of footwear collections and enjoy exclusive deals and offers when choosing to check out online.
Due: March 1, 2023
When it comes to creating a project brief, you need to strike a careful balance of providing enough information to present a complete, unambiguous, and useful overview, without including so much data that the document becomes unwieldy and impractical.
One way to handle this balance is to use the brief to present the key information that all stakeholders involved in the project need to know, while providing links to other, more detailed documents that relate to aspects only a small percentage of the team needs to engage with.
Here are some specific steps to follow while writing each section of your project brief:
Your goal here is to introduce the relationship between your client and the project. Give a concise overview of the client's business background, business segments, brand, competitors, and geographical location, with links to more detailed analytics for those who need them.
With this, you help the team members and project stakeholders grasp what the client wants to achieve with the project.
The next part of your project brief should contain details on the project's scope, and the context of the problem you're trying to solve.
In this part of the project brief, you may pinpoint potential barriers and how they can be resolved. Some of the questions that a project background needs to answer are:
You can also include links to previous projects and related articles, to provide additional information to your team.
It is important to explain the project's objectives in a project brief. In this part, there should be a set of realistic and quantifiable expectations for the project.
Research on goal-setting techniques suggests that rather than focusing solely on SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound), we should look to develop on FAST goals:
Whether you're working on a web design project or launching a new app, the transparency of a clear project brief helps to keep these goals and key milestones at the center.
In this section, the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics should be specified to determine the project's success. This is the focal point to keep the team and project stakeholders on track. Include links to explanations of the KPIs and how they're calculated, if appropriate.
Any entrepreneur can testify that one of the most critical elements in a business project is identifying the right type of customers for your client's product. Knowing the project's target audience can help business owners invest their time and money wisely.
Narrow your target audience by their shared characteristics, based on demographics, interests, buying behaviors, occupation, or lifestyle. Present these audience personas in your project brief, and include any supporting data as links for those who need to explore further.
Budget is an essential factor to consider for every project manager. Decide on a budget by running projections of the project's financial requirements. This includes listing the resources, such as raw materials, that are needed based on the project design. Carefully planning the project finances helps avoid budget overruns, and ultimately contributes to the project's success. For the purposes of the brief, a summarized budget is usually sufficient, but you should link to the full cost breakdown structure so that the costs involved are clear.
In addition to the budget, your brief needs a clear timeline, ideally one that defines the project phases. The expected results should be clearly linked to a corresponding due date. This project timeline holds the team accountable, ensuring the project will be finished at a given due date.
At the end of the project brief, you can link to supporting materials and data sets, as well as other project documents such as change logs.
When writing your project brief, here are some best practices to implement:
Your brief is the blueprint of your project, which should be detailed enough to provide all the key information, whilst remaining concise enough to convey that information clearly to all stakeholders and team members. While they may take time to create, they can save hours of wasted work by keeping the entire team moving in the right direction.
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