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At its core, a project brief should communicate your project approach and the process your team will use to manage the project according to scope. Although a project plan is arguably the most important document created on your project, any good project starts with a project brief.
If handled with care and great consideration, a good brief should act as an agreement on project objectives, scope, major deliverables, milestones, timing, activities, process, and even resources needed to deliver your product. If you take time to create a good process around how your project brief is built, you can create a great plan that works for everyone.
If you’ve ever planned a road trip, you know you can’t map out your journey until you determine your destination. A project’s no different: You can’t hit the ground running—or even establish a plan for execution—until you know what the project entails. That’s where a project brief comes in.
While a project plan outlines how a project will get done, a project brief defines the who, what, when, where, and why, setting clear expectations for stakeholders on the front end. Think of it as the “true north” that keeps your project on track. Once work begins, you can use the project brief to help prevent scope creep and guide decisions all the way to completion.
Quite often, you’ll receive a ton of project details—pages upon pages of requirements, team biographies, invoicing instructions, contractual clauses, and the like. It’s critical to read through all of that documentation because it’s what you need to know to ensure the project succeeds.
No matter what type of project you’re managing, be sure to recap the following items in your project brief:
Never leave any of these project brief items unanswered. If you’re responsible for creating the project plan, that means you must be sure all of these factors have been considered. If you don’t, the project will definitely hit a bump in the road, and every finger will be pointed at you.
Creating a project brief at the start enables you to get all project stakeholders on the same page. For instance, if you haven’t fully explored the decision-making process, there’s a great chance you’ll encounter the good old “swoop and poop.” That’s when a stakeholder you weren’t aware of swoops into the project at the 11th hour and poops on the work—putting you back at square one. It’s a budget and timeline nightmare that will become a reality if you don’t practice your due diligence.
Just remember, you can get as much info as possible, but details can change. Do your best to document the information you have so you can account for it in your plan.
Now that you understand a project brief’s purpose and have gathered all the appropriate information for a successful brief, it’s time to make your draft. The project brief example below shows you how to present all of the important information in an easy-to-read and digestible format.
Want to use this brief format for your upcoming projects? Download our free project brief template here.
Just remember, project briefs are used across a variety of industries. The information you include on your brief will depend on the type of project you’re executing. Here are a few examples of how project briefs can differ by industry:
Just be sure to define your project as clearly as possible, so everyone knows what is (and isn’t) in scope.
Now that you know how to draft a good project brief, let’s use it to create a solid project plan.
You could easily slap together a document that shows dates and deliverables. But if you’re managing a project that has a hefty budget, lofty goals, and a whole lot of decisions attached to it, it’s important to take time to make a detailed project plan.
With the right amount of background information on your project’s scope and requirements—and with a good level of input and collaboration with your team and your clients—you can make a solid, workable plan that will guide everyone through your project.
Here’s the thing: It doesn’t have to be difficult to create. On its own, to many, a project plan is a dry document that lists dates. To people who are invested in your project, the plan is the project guide that will dictate how you will get to project milestones, decisions, and eventually project completion.
At a minimum, a project plan answers basic questions about the project:
Look at it this way: Your plan should educate any reviewer—coworkers and clients included—on the logistics of the project. They trust that you’ve got this, so when reviewing the document, they truly believe that you’ve considered every possible risk. And if you have, it feels good to know you’ve done a good job and are trusted.
Once you’ve got a solid project brief in hand, it’s time to craft your plan! With TeamGantt, you can create an interactive project plan without the tedium.
You’ll have all the features you need to ensure projects finish on time and on budget, including:
And it all comes with a simple and intuitive interface that’s easy for anyone to use.