You get on the elevator with someone who asks you about your upcoming project. Can you clearly describe your project in 60 seconds?
Perhaps you are on the way out of a meeting with senior leaders when a Vice President asks you about your project. She says, “I only have a minute, but could you give me a brief summary of the project?”
Your ability to describe your projects helps others understand your projects. You (and your project sponsor) will be in a better position to engage your stakeholders and get their support. Are you ready?
Let’s look at creating a summary that allows you — at a moment’s notice — to tell others the most important information about your project.
Why do you need a project summary? Here are three reasons:
- It helps you to clarify your project. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a project sponsor or project manager about their project and heard disjointed comments. This is one of the primary reasons that projects are not approved when pitched.
- It provides the core components for developing your project charter. When you start to create your project charter, you can start with the content of your project summary and add components such as deliverables, assumptions, constraints, high-level risks, stakeholders, and team members. In essence, your project starts as a seed — the project summary — that blossoms into a fruit-producing plant.
- It allows you to sell the project quickly. It’s easy to lose the attention of others. Describe your project in a concise and compelling manner. Make it easy for individuals to connect the dots and see how the projects will help the company achieve its organizational strategies and goals.
So, how do you create a brilliant project summary?
A project summary should include the following components:
- Project Name: The project name.
- Problems: The problems you are attempting to solve.
- Solutions: How the project will solve the problem.
- Goals: The goals of the project.
Here’s an insurance company example:
“It is taking us 21 days on average to close an auto physical damage claim, compared to 14 days of our competitors. The primary causes of our longer cycle time are an inadequate number of qualified claims adjusters and inefficient claims processes and systems. [Problems] The goal of the AutoMagic Project [Project Name] is to decrease our average cycle time to 18 days within 8 months and to 12 days within 12 months. [Goals] How? By hiring and training additional auto claims adjusters, improving our claims processes, and modifying our systems. [Solutions]”
You may order the components as you like. Here’s an example for the creation and launch of a Project Management Office:
“SocialPress (name of company) has lots of projects, but many projects are not in alignment with the company’s mission and strategies. Furthermore, less than 30% of the projects are completed on budget and on schedule due to poor project management. [Problems] The PMO Launch Project [Project Name] will be undertaken to implement a Project Management Office (PMO). The PMO will facilitate a review of projects for alignment with the SocialPress strategies, provide project management tools and training, and work with senior leaders to discover ways to improve our project success rate. [Solutions] It is our goal to deliver 50% of our projects on budget and on schedule in the next fiscal year. [Goals]”
Describe Your Project
Now it’s your turn. Write a description for one of your projects. Practice (speaking) the summary and fine-tune the description as needed.
The process for formulating a clear and brilliant project summary does not have to be complicated. Your job as a project manager is to have your stakeholders’ best interest at heart. Make sure they can understand your project easily.
This simple process starts with four questions that you MUST ask yourself before you start writing your project summary.
Question: What other tips do you have for creating and sharing your projects?