How to Create an Excellent Project Overview (No Template Needed)

A project overview is one of the first things project managers do when starting a new project. Here's why you need to create one and how to get started.
Shannon Toe

Projects are like meals: they can be easy or difficult, simple or complex, expensive or cheap. And just like a meal, the key to making a great project is in the preparation. In the kitchen, you can’t create a great meal without a good recipe. Likewise, you can’t make a great project without a good plan.

Creating a project overview is a great way to kickstart your project. They make it easy to break down and organize your project, no matter how big or small it is. A project overview is typically created before the project begins, during the initial stage of the project life cycle.

In fact, having a project overview is one of the most important aspects of managing a project. It defines the scope, boundaries, and limitations of your project, as well as provides the key deliverables and milestones you (and your team) will need to meet.

By building a project overview, you’re building the foundation of your project and ensuring that you have a clear idea of what needs to be done, when it needs to be done by, and who is responsible.

Here is everything you need to know to get started with your project without any project overview templates. 

What is a project overview?

When you are starting a new project, one of the first things you need to write is the project overview. Also known as a project summary, it is a document that provides a brief outline of what the project is about, its benefits and outcomes, the main stakeholders involved, and how it will be completed.

In other words, a project overview is a concise description of the project you plan to undertake. The overview is meant to gather project details and give the reader an idea of what you want to do and how you are going to get there. It can be visualized using any project scheduling software such as Runn:

project overview example

A project overview is one of the most critical project documents, as it is intended to simplify further project planning and generate a high-level summary of the project, including:

  • Project purpose
  • Business need
  • Objectives
  • Budget and project timeline
  • Resources required
  • Risks and issues
  • Expected results

The main advantage is that it gives you greater visibility over the entire operation and helps you answer important questions like:

  • What are the key steps?
  • Who's responsible for each task?
  • What are the deliverables?
  • When are they due?

By creating a project overview, you can also ensure that nothing gets missed. This is especially important if you have several stakeholders who need to sign off on your plan.

Why your team needs a project overview

The project overview statement is the place where you get all of the big picture details out of your head and into one picture. You'll be referring back to this document throughout the entire project, so it's important to get things right.

You might be wondering why a project overview is necessary at all. Why can't you just tell everyone what they need to know? The truth is, putting everything on paper will help you as much as it helps your team.

Here are some reasons why a project overview is important:

  • It keeps your team focused on what's important and prevents them from getting bogged down in details.
  • It allows you to plan for contingencies and manage the risk that your project faces.
  • It makes it easier for you to communicate with stakeholders and other people who aren't involved in the day-to-day work of the project.
  • It sets a tone for how the entire project will go. It's a way to establish expectations and make sure your team understands what's expected of them.
  • It helps prevent mistakes by outlining all of the high-level tasks involved and letting everyone know how they fit into the big picture.
  • It helps you chart a course to ensure your project's success by identifying potential risks and solutions before it starts. It also helps prevent scope creep. 
  • It gives you a way to keep everyone on the same page by providing a clear direction for the project and its outcomes.

Using Runn to create a project overview 

Creating a project overview can be tricky and time-consuming, especially if you are new to project management or are working on your first major project. For many people, the thought of creating a project overview is overwhelming because they don’t know where to begin, or they aren’t sure which pieces of information are important. And most projects don’t come with a template. 

A project overview template can help you get started, but keep in mind that every project is unique. You'll probably want to customize it with your own information.

To save time, however, many teams are now creating their project overviews using project planning software.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to do it. Runn lets you create a real-time overview of your entire project in minutes.

Here are four simple steps for creating the best project overview without a template:

1. Create a project

Every project starts with a problem or an opportunity. This is the opportunity you want to seize or the problem you want to solve. It's what makes your project unique and worth doing.

So first things first: you need to create the project itself. This means giving it a name, adding any details or instructions, and choosing which team members will work on it with you. With a good tool, you can launch the project in one click of a button.

multi-project overview

2. Add key dates and milestones

You need key dates and milestones in order to manage your time and resources effectively. So start by adding important dates such as the start date and end date of the project. Then define milestones such as starting development or launch day. 

Milestones will keep everyone in your team on track by showing when certain tasks are due and how many days are left until they're completed. They also show the progress of your entire project (and whether it's ahead or behind schedule).

3. Split the project into phases

If your project has multiple phases or groups of work, now is the time to split it up into those phases. You can give each phase its own name to make it easier to understand what they mean when you look at them later. You can also change the color of each phase to make them visually distinct from each other. 

This can help to break down what could be an overwhelming task at first glance into smaller, more manageable steps and help you gain greater visibility on your team’s workload.

Creating tasks within each phase gives clarity over what needs to be done and who is responsible for doing it — essential for removing confusion while keeping team members accountable for getting their work done. It also provides greater visibility over resource allocation, allowing you to see where your team may need reinforcements. But this is that granular project planning thing you might need to do later on in order to easily track project progress

4. Assign resources

After setting milestones and creating phases for your project, assign resources that are necessary to complete each.

Assigning resources is something that needs careful planning and coordination between stakeholders in order for people not only understand their role but also feel empowered enough to take action on those things that matter most within their own sphere of influence. 

When assigning resources to milestones on your project plan, make sure that people have what they need to complete their tasks. This could mean skill, expertise, and, most importantly, availability. 

assign resources

In order to avoid workload clashes and people doing overtime you need to have a crystal clear understanding of your resource capacity.

When you find the right people to work on the project, you can use Runn to “Assign Project” to the expert of your choice. 

Creating an effective project overview can be challenging. You need a tool that lets you build a high-level view of your work plan whilst allowing you to drill down into individual tasks when you need more detail.

Runn is an easy-to-use project management tool designed for individuals, teams and enterprises who want to improve the way they plan and manage projects.

With Runn, you can create a project from scratch, track progress in real time, and identify potential risks early on so that you can always take corrective action before it’s too late.

Want to try it out? Sign up for free today!

Enjoy the post? Sign-up below for the latest strategies, stories and product updates from the team at Runn.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

You might also like

Try Runn on a single project, a whole team, or run your entire business

Try for free
14 day trial. No credit card required.
Smart resource and capacity planning