There are many elements involved in planning a project. They include creating a variety of documentation for both the team and all the stakeholders involved.
One such document that is one of the first to be created and used throughout the project lifecycle is the project brief.
The project brief is an important document as it outlines the entire project from the get-go.
However, this document is often overlooked or rushed over. Therefore, we created this guide to help make the most effective project brief for your next project.
What is a Project Brief?
To explain it most simply, the project brief is a document that provides an overview of the project.
The document highlights all the important and essential elements of the project. This includes what falls within the project scope, what the project objectives are, what aims or goals the project wishes to achieve.
Typically, such a document also goes over what is needed to achieve these goals and the schedule or timeframe required to do so.
Simply put, the project brief should outline the what, who, when, and why of a project.
The Purpose of a Project Brief
There are many purposes to creating this type of document. The document serves as a framework for the project as well as offers the ability to communicate with the stakeholders, teams, and all other individuals involved as to what the project is about and its requirements and goals.
The document highlights the scope of the project which is essential for all involved to understand what needs to be done and what falls within the parameters of the project. It also serves as a means to start a conversation as to what is the most efficient way to reach the goal.
Practically speaking, this document acts as a clear indication of the client’s objectives and goals, who the target audience for the end result of the project is, and any competitors in the market.
Difference between a Project Brief and Project Plan
You may be wondering that you have already created a project plan and therefore whether it is even necessary to create a brief of the project and what really is the difference between the two.
To put it simply, the project brief is essentially the summary of the project plan.
The project plan outlines the project in detail including things such as the project goals, what metrics to measure the success of the project by, the project budget, what the milestones and deliverables are, who the stakeholders are, the project schedule, and even the project communication plan.
The brief of the project is a document that is perfect for high-level stakeholders to get an overview from. It is also a great document for your team to refer back to continue throughout the project to know they are meeting expectations.
Read more about creating a project plan to know more.
Difference between a Project Brief and Executive Summary
A brief of the project and an executive summary are often confused as well. Which document you decide to create depends on the exact project you are working on.
Consider what falls within the scope of your project as well as all the people involved in the project including who the stakeholders are.
These two documents do have a lot in common in that they can both be viewed as an overview of the project at hand. However, an executive summary is drafted in such a way that it caters more to executive stakeholders.
Therefore, for projects that are expansive with high-level executives, you should consider creating an executive summary, otherwise more those projects with more cross-functional collaborators are better suited for briefs of the project instead.
Learn more about creating an executive summary in our blog post.
Elements in a Project Brief
A brief of the project is aimed at outlining the who, what, when, where, and why elements of a project.
Here are certain elements that are typical for most such briefs include:
- The project goals and project scope
- Information about the client and team
- the approach going to be taken in the project including intended methodology or process of choice
- Project details including who the target audience is, the project timeline, etc.
How to Make a Project Brief?
The way you approach writing a brief for your project as well as what you include in the document itself depends on the type of project you are working on as well as the people that are involved in the project.
No matter the style or details of your brief you want to make the documents effective by having it easy to refer back to by both your team and stakeholders and that it flows naturally thus making complete sense.
Here is a basic guide on how you can approach making the brief of your project:
Step 1: Identify your Client
You need to initially describe who the project is being created for, whether this simply is outlining your company profile or an external client.
Allowing your team and project managers to know the client and brand helps them work more efficiently towards the end goals as well as understand the purpose behind the project.
Step 2: Explain the Project
Stakeholders, team members, and project managers all need to know an overview of the project so they know what it entails and what it is they will be working on or expecting.
You can make this part of your brief as detailed as you wish, although remember that going into proper detail will make the brief too lengthy and defeats the purpose behind it.
You can explain which stakeholders will be responsible for implementing the project as well as what will be needed for project implementation.
Step 3: Outline the Project Objectives and Success Metrics
Knowing what the objectives are and how they connect to the company’s goals can be a great way to keep team members motivated.
It also keeps everyone on track ensuring the whole team is working towards the same objectives.
Such project objectives should ideally be a part of all your initial project planning and documents.
You can use the SMART principle to help you lay out the project objectives. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Read more about setting SMART goals blog post.
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Step 4: Set a Project Timeline
Whether you meet your project objectives within the given timeframe is a key element of delivering a successful project and therefore should be included in the brief.
Outlining your timeline in your brief lets team members and project managers be aware of key dates and milestones within the project.
Constantly referring back to the project timeline you outline also helps avoid unnecessary project delays.
You can also choose to incorporate your project budget into the brief, however, this is not done by everyone.
Step 5: Identify your Target Audience
You want to ensure that you deliver a project that meets the demands of your target audience.
Who is the product, service, or update being aimed at?
Knowing the target audience will help understand and provide important insight into how to best meet their needs.
No matter the type of project you are a part of, knowing who the target audience is, is important and therefore should definitely be a part of your brief.
Step 6: Define the Project Scope
Scope creep is a major factor in why many projects are either delayed, go over budget, or even end up failing.
Outlining from the start of your project, that is in the brief, exactly what does and does not fall in the scope of the project helps avoid scope creep as the project progresses.
Outline what the project’s deliverables are, what features are expected, what tasks should be done, and what deadlines are expected to be met.
Remember this is simply a guide on how to approach creating your brief, what and how you go about it depends on what works for you, your team, your organization, the project, and the stakeholders involved.
Who is in Charge of Creating a Project Brief?
The main person in charge of creating this brief is the project manager due to the nature of the document being such a fundamental part of the initiation phase of a project lifecycle.
By creating the brief of the project, project managers are also aided in the creation of other documents they are responsible for creating such as the project plan, the project schedule, and resource management.
Since the brief of the project revolves around the project scope and the objectives that are hoped to be achieved by the completion of the project, project managers will turn to stakeholders and clients to get the information necessary to create the document.
Therefore, while the project manager is in charge of formulating this document he or she does not work alone and involves and refers to other important individuals that are involved in the project such as the team that will work on it.
The more research put into the creation of said document and preparation that goes into making the brief the more effective it will be and the more likely it is to be referred back to throughout the lifecycle of the project.
nTask and your Project Brief
nTask offers a great Gantt chart feature that can help you with the creation of your document.
Having a graphical representation of your project and your project deadline gives you an outline for creating your brief. It can help you formulate what the key milestones are, what deliverables need to be met, as well as what the project timeline is.
Check out what nTask’s Gantt chart to manage your workflows smoothly.
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