What Is a Project Description and How Do You Write One?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated December 4, 2022

Published May 14, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Project descriptions provide team members and stakeholders with an overview of team projects. These descriptions include components like company goals, stakeholders, and deadlines. By knowing more about these descriptions, you can create more effective documents. In this article, we discuss the definition of project descriptions, review a step-by-step guide to help you develop these descriptions, and provide a list of tips for writing effective project descriptions.

What is a project description?

A project description describes an overview of projects, along with their primary functions, ideas, and goals. These documents can help you and your team identify potential challenges you may encounter when working on projects. You can determine which strategies to use for effective project completion and describe the work, along with the time required to complete the project.

Team leaders often develop these documents during the initial stages of projects to provide stakeholders and sponsors with information about the project. These documents help ensure that all members of your team have a clear understanding of project requirements and help stakeholders determine whether they want to fund projects.

What does a project description include?

Here's a list of the components associated with descriptions of projects:

Goals

You typically outline the goals of projects in their descriptions, along with potential objectives. When describing the goals, it's beneficial to list any secondary tasks that may contribute to the larger project. This helps your team work toward a collective objective and helps ensure that all team members have a clear understanding of the completion requirements.

Related: What Is a Project Goal? (With Benefits, Tips, and Examples)

Stakeholders list

This document may also provide a list of stakeholders, along with their involvement. Including a list of stakeholders also helps ensure that all members of the company understand the role of company stakeholders. When issues arise, both stakeholders and team leaders can review this list and invite stakeholders to meetings to help solve those issues.

Success criteria

Project descriptions include the criteria required for the success of projects. These criteria consider measurable variables that provide you with a finishing goal for that project. For example, if the primary goal of the project is to respect the project's budget, you know the project is a success when the team completes it while maintaining the budget. You can also set goals that consider project resources, like reducing the number of resources required by 70%. When you reach that percentage, you can consider the project successful.

Related: What Are SMART Goals for Project Managers? (With Tips)

Timeline

The description of projects typically includes the deliverables and their timelines. This helps both team leaders and members obtain information about the time permitted to complete various projects. These descriptions provide a clear schedule that details all tasks and their deadlines.

Related: 6 Steps for Making Timelines (With Tips and Benefits)

How to write an effective description

Here are some steps you can follow when writing a project description:

1. Assign a title

When developing project descriptions, the first thing to consider is the project's title at the beginning of the description. You may want to review the relevance of the title in comparison to the project to help ensure that it's short and clear. The title provides team members and stakeholders with an idea of the project's details.

2. Summarize the project

When writing project descriptions, team leaders typically develop a clear summary of the project's proposal. You may want to consider including a description of the project, the tasks involved in the project, and the goals you want to accomplish. You can also complete a brief introduction that provides an overview of the project and the details you plan to discuss in the rest of the description. The introduction is usually one paragraph, which prevents repetition and wordiness.

3. Establish the purpose

When creating descriptions of projects, you can include the purpose of the project, along with your intentions when completing the project. This component of project descriptions addresses potential issues and how the project can improve the company's success. Many project managers use this opportunity to describe how the project relates to the company's organizational goals and culture. This provides stakeholders with more information about the project and how it impacts them.

Related: Project Manager vs. Project Coordinator: What Makes Them Different?

4. Describe your goals

When developing project descriptions, it's important to describe the project's goals, along with your intentions following the project's successful completion. You may want to make these specific and relevant to the project's content by including measurable and achievable goals that allow you to track your team's progress. It can be helpful to identify the way you plan to measure the success of the project's deliverables. You may establish a deadline for each goal, list these in project descriptions, and record the potential benefits upon completion of the project's goals.

5. Identify possible limitations

Another helpful step that allows you to establish contingency plans is describing the limits of your project based on the needs and expectations of its stakeholders. This can help you prepare for and navigate potential problems that can arise. A project's limitations might change throughout each of its phases, so it's important to adjust this section as required throughout.

Related: What Is Project Coordination, and Why Is it Important?

6. Determine your approach

For this section, you might collaborate with your team to determine how you want to approach the project. After accomplishing this, you can select, approve, and describe an effective method for completing the work that the project requires. You may consider dividing the project into phases and describing any technologies or techniques that can help you complete each step. Understanding each team member's unique skills can also help you assign tasks within each phase to increase the team's productivity.

7. Create a schedule

Most project managers create a general timeline that their team members can follow when completing their responsibilities. This might include an estimate of the time the project requires for completion, and can change as you progress. It's also essential to include any upcoming deadlines in project descriptions for each team member's reference.

Related: What Is a Project Management Plan? With Tips and Examples

8. Establish a budget

Effective project descriptions also often include a calculation of how much it may cost to complete a particular project. You might consider expenses such as labour, equipment and technology while making this calculation. You can work with other members of your team to determine a reasonable budget that aligns with the company's available monetary resources and consult with stakeholders.

9. Ask for feedback

After writing a draft of your project descriptions, consider asking a team member or manager to review it. They may discover specific areas of improvement or provide general feedback on the entire document. You can also present project descriptions to certain stakeholders and ask them to describe the project in their own words. This can help you determine whether your summary of the project is clear and accurate.

Related: The Benefits of Asking for Feedback at Work (Plus How-to)

10. Revise the project description

The final step of writing an effective description of projects is to revise it based on the feedback you receive. You can also update the document as your team works on it. Consider using the document as a tool for evaluating the outcomes of the project upon its completion.

Tips for writing project descriptions

Here's a list of tips for creating project descriptions:

Be specific

Specificity in project descriptions includes describing exactly what you aim to accomplish with your project. For example, if you work for a construction company wanting to start a project that addresses a problem with a highway, you can discuss the details of what you hope to investigate and achieve by improving the highway. Important details often include the person responsible for each task, the projected results of each phase, and the people involved in each step.

Rely on credible sources

Project managers might also use sources in their descriptions to support their claims. It's important to ensure these sources are credible and written by experts on the subject so that you can rely on their information. You can research an author's credentials and the reputation of the publisher to determine the validity of a source before including it in a description.

Related: Research Skills: Definition and Examples

Ensure clarity

You may keep your writing clear and concise to convey your message accurately. You can achieve this by explaining concepts in simple terms and defining technical words. Focusing on only one idea in each sentence can help readers understand complex details within a project.

Use diagrams

You can create and use diagrams in your description, as it's frequently easier to show a concept rather than explain it. This can help stakeholders and team members understand your vision for the project. You can also cite charts and graphs from other sources, and if you create your own diagram, you may provide a brief description of its purpose in your presentation.

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