Project Brief

Use the brief at the outset of a project or product cycle, when a development team needs to rally behind a common goal and share a mental model of the problem they are trying to solve.

The project brief

A good application and project description must provide a clear picture that the project can be realised and run in a sustainable manner.

To get from the idea to the actual description of a defined and sustainable project with clear phases, goals and concrete activities, a number of tools are available that the project manager and project group can benefit from.

Why write a project brief?

It will help you conduct a well-controlled project which is carried out within the agreed scope, time and budget.

Leaders owe their teams an answer to the same question that young children often ask their parents before setting out on a long drive: “Where are we going and how are we going to get there?” In other words, what is the goal and how are we going to measure progress along the way?

1. Project goal

Describe the goal of the project. Imagine you could print out in big letters, neon light, blinking, one or two sentences for why we need to do this, what is it we are trying to achieve, what would you then write?

1.1 KPIs

What does success look like? If you were to set up a scoreboard to track success over time, what would it measure?

2. Project description

In this chapter you describe briefly what we currently have (A) and what we are moving to (B) and what’s the work we need to do in the project, to move from A to B.

2.1 Current situation

Describe the current situation.

2.2. New solution

Describe the new situation/solution we want to move toward

2.3 Getting from current situation to new solution

Here you describe (or an illustration could also do) what are the work we need to do in the project, to move from A to B. Keep it high-level, don’t go into small details.

3. Project delivery breakdown

3.1 Project deliveries

a breakdown of the deliverables

3.2 Associated project delivery description

| | | Breakdown of deliveries | | |

4. Project organisation

4.1 Project team

Completes the deliverables within the project scope. If the team needs a change in scope, time or cost, the Project Manager has the responsibility to take this decision to the Steering Group.

4.2 Steering group

Takes the necessary decisions with regards to scope, time and cost and determine how the project will proceed and overcome its problems.

4.3 Relevant stakeholders

Other groups (or major stakeholders)

5. Timeline

5.1 Overall project phases

5.2 High-level timeline

Could be a high-level timeline with associated milestones or a in a more agile setting, sprints.

5.3 Risks

Download: The project brief template

Next steps: The kickoff meeting 🎬

All project meetings should be important, but the project kickoff meeting is the most crucial because it sets the tone and vision of the entire project. You’ll want to get this meeting right so everyone starts out motivated, focused and informed.

Agenda (75 min)

  1. Basics: Write down the name and/or number of the project being discussed, where that meeting is being held, and list the people attending by name and role in the project, incl. the project manager and project owner. You want to have a full list of those who were there. New people may come into the project later, and then they can be brought up to speed and added to the list of those who have been briefed. Finally, note the date and time of the meeting.

  2. Introductions – meet your new best buds (15 mins). Consider including a meeting icebreaker, like “What’s Your Favorite Year” to get everyone focused and into meeting mode. Allow time for the project sponsors to introduce themselves and make a brief statement, if they want.

  3. Project – why are we doing this? (5 mins). Read the description of the project and the reason it is being initiated. Tell the group what the business drivers for initiating and the benefits of the project. Detail the goals and ensuring there’s clarity as to what success – or failure looks like. What you’re doing here is more than disseminating information, you’re rallying the troops to get buy-in and to fully engage and inspire the team.

  4. Approach & Teamwork – Which methodology will the team follow, how collaboration should be managed, how communication should flow, when the team should meet, the tools that should be used, and which systems you’ll use to share deliverables or outline details of specific tasks or tickets.

  5. Planning & Scope – what are we doing? (20 mins). Review the project management plan/ timeline so everyone understands the flow of the project, the activities and the outputs or deliverables. Discuss the assumption log, which is how you will track the validation of these assumptions throughout the project. There’s also a human resource management plan that includes a contact list with roles, responsibilities, training needs and schedule availability.

    Pro tip: Great time to start the RAID (Risks, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies).

  6. Roles – who is doing what? (5 mins)

  7. Next – how do we keep momentum? (5 mins)

  8. Q&A – what haven’t we told you? (5 mins)

Concluding notes


  • Download: Tina Siig’s project brief template