Projects are the workhorses of continuous improvement and development. You might want to run a few simultaneously to meet organizational goals and draw on all the resources your team has to offer. When you’ve got big plans and the work lined up to match, project descriptions lay out the little details that help keep everyone on track.
Keep reading to find out how a simple page of content can support success for the entire project. We’ll also look at some project description examples and tell you why they work, provide guidance for how to write these powerhouse pages, and dive into some other project resources from monday.com that you might want in your toolbelt. But first, let’s define exactly what a project description is.
What is a project description?
A project description is a structured document that provides the high-level why, when, and how of a project. Project team members, leaders, and stakeholders refer to this document throughout the project. The description includes information such as:
- Project purpose. What led to the project? The description may refer to organizational pain points or overall business objectives and how the project intends to solve/meet them. It should also include a justification for the project.
- Project goals. Every project should have clearly defined goals. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic.
- Project team. Many project descriptions include a list of people involved in the effort, including subject-matter experts who provide guidance or information and stakeholders who act as champions for the project.
- Project timeline. Project descriptions present timelines in an easy-to-scan format, such as a Gantt chart.
- Measures of success. This is the key metric (or metrics) that tell the team when they’ve reached success.
Each part of a project description offers its own benefits. And they work together as a whole to provide other benefits. Let’s look at some of the reasons you might use project descriptions.
Why use a project description?
A project description provides a big-picture, structured look at the project. When you include the right details, this tool helps keep people on track and supports the efficient evaluation of project ideas. For organizational leads and stakeholders, project descriptions make it easier to choose which projects to champion and fund. Even if a project is put on hold or not chosen, the description can be archived for later review. Projects that aren’t priorities now may become important later.
For current project teams, the description works as a grounding tool. It draws the team back to the purpose and goals of a project, helping ward off scope creep. If you’ve ever been caught up in the excitement of making improvements or reaching for success, you know it’s easy to go overboard. Taking time to review each proposed effort against the project description helps keep that from happening.
Project descriptions do more than hold the team accountable to a specific effort, though. They also protect the team from evolving expectations that might come from the outside. Having success metrics laid out beforehand, for example, lets the team point to those agreed-upon definitions if stakeholders or customers later ask for different outcomes.
Depending on your role in an organization or project team, the description brings different benefits. But they all relate to saving time and money, improving communication and setting the project up for success. It’s unlikely anyone will say no to those benefits, so the next step is learning how to write a good project description.
How to write a project description
You should create project descriptions early on in the lifecycle of a project. Typically, these documents are written once data is gathered and a project is defined — but before project-facing work actually begins. In an enterprise environment, the description might be submitted to a project review board for approval. For small businesses or teams that don’t need committee approval, the description should still come first to create a baseline for future efforts.
Set up your project description template or form in a way that works best for your organization (not the specific project at hand). Keeping all project descriptions in the same structure creates efficiencies later and helps reduce confusion. You can start with the project overview template or customize your own template in monday.com’s Work OS.
Whatever template you choose, cover the information below to create a comprehensive description that supports the team and outside stakeholders at all levels.
- Title and overview. Think of this section like meta tags. Meta titles and descriptions make it easy to scan an entire search engine results page and pick the link that best matches your query. Project titles and overviews make it easy to find the relevant project.
- Justification and purpose. Projects take resources, including cash, raw materials and skills, and labor. Describe business pain points and drivers that make a project worth the costs. Provide estimates on savings, for example, or statistics or employee testimonies that set up a case for improved morale with a positive project outcome.
- Estimate project costs. Create a project budget that includes labor time and cash outlay for improvements, tools, or supplies required. Remember to be reasonable but conservative; building a buffer in your project description and budget supports an increased likelihood of success later.
- Benefits. Spell out the benefits the project might provide. These should be tied closely to the justification of the project — and may be included in the same section. If you cite a pain point in justifying your project, include a benefit that addresses it.
- Method. This section covers who is involved in the project and how you plan to implement it. Some people refer to this section as the approach. Provide a high-level summary; you can get into the details in other project documents.
- Timeline. Provide a timeline for the project that goes beyond an expected end date. Break the project down into a few large phases or efforts and sketch out the timeline on a Gantt chart or other tool. This helps people visualize how long it might take and where in the process they are at any given time.
- Measures of success. End with a definition of success. Be specific. Verbiage such as, “At the conclusion of the project, the invoicing process will be improved” creates too many opportunities for failure. Each person may have a different definition of “improved,” for example. A better definition of success is, “Time to process invoices decreases by 24 hours on average over existing time of 72 hours.”
The benefits of project descriptions in monday.com’s Work OS
monday.com’s Work OS has the tools teams need to define, plan, and complete projects of all types. You can use project descriptions to enhance how those tools work together to support project teams and organizations.
Create a project dashboard
Start with project description templates, which house the must-know details of each project. Use that data to fuel a customized project dashboard. Users throughout your organization can view the dashboard to see what projects are actively open, which are waiting for approval, and which are wrapping up successfully (or not).
Tracking projects at a high level helps you organize resources and view trends. Trends can help teams identify common project bottlenecks or fail points and solve for them to enhance the success of future projects. Don’t take our word for it — find out how one team put monday.com’s Work OS dashboard customization to use in managing projects.
Project management and oversight don’t stop at the dashboard. Next, we’ll take a look at some of the other project templates and tools you might use to manage the lifecycle of your project.
Other project tools you might need
From big-picture strategic planning to handling minute details of communication and task assignments, monday.com’s Work OS offers the tools you need to get projects done on time and well. Start with some of the options below after you define your project and get leadership or stakeholder approval on the effort.
- Project tracker. This tool breaks down various elements of a project so you can track efforts. See when work is completed or handoffs occur. Make it easy for people to check in daily or weekly and highlight areas that are falling behind or at risk with a project tracker.
- Project update template. Keep everyone informed on project progress with a project update template. Customize a form that lets teams quickly enter information and create processes that require an update daily, weekly, or on a timeline that works for you. Stakeholders will love the easy-to-digest updates. Project team members will love that they don’t have to field constant emails asking for updates.
- Project closure template. Wrap up all projects with a closure template. These forms let everyone know the work is done and provide a space to illustrate the success of the project. You can include lessons learned, especially if the project didn’t succeed, to inform project teams in the future that might tackle similar efforts.
Frequently asked project description questions
What are the common parts of a project description?
The common parts of a project description include a project title and overview, justification for the project, a high-level summary of costs and benefits, lists of project team members and important stakeholders, a summary of project methodology, planned timelines, and measures of success. However, project descriptions don’t have to follow this format. You can design a project description template that works best for your organization. It’s more important that you use the same template across all your projects than that you use a specific predefined template.
What are some types of project descriptions?
The detailed project description format described in this post is only one type of project description. Others include:
- The elevator pitch, which is used to sell people on a project idea
- The abstract, which is a few paragraphs that describe a project for informational purposes
- The short project description, which is a few paragraphs that give the reason for a project and a quick summary of how the project might work — this may be used as the first draft of a longer, more comprehensive description
What is a project description in a project proposal?
If your organization requires you to submit project proposals for approval, the project description is a brief overview of the why, when, and how. This can be an abstract or short project description.
Keep project details organized with monday.com
Taking time to define your projects and manage the details associated with them has a huge positive impact on success. With monday.com’s Work OS, you can create workflows and templates that make these updates fast and easy. When your team isn’t chasing down email updates or working with cumbersome paper processes, they can spend more time and resources on work that drives project success. Start organizing your projects today with project descriptions.