How are project summaries used?
Project summaries are great because they can serve many different purposes in project management. That's why project managers love to use them.
Internally, project summaries act as status reports for projects in progress. They effectively communicate key project updates related to milestones, metrics, objectives and timelines to project teams. These executive summaries can come at any point in the project lifecycle: beginning, middle or end.
Externally, project summaries are tools that help present project information to decision markers, stakeholders, sponsors, clients and the like. They can be used to provide updates, but also work well as project proposals that offer thorough first impressions of a project's characteristics, status and context.
Let's face it, we love to see a multi-purpose document!
What elements are included in project summaries?
Project summaries look a little bit different depending on the needs and context of your project. The elements they include depends largely on whether you want to use your project summary internally or externally, as well as their position within your project's lifecycle.
Nevertheless, project summary reports are often made up of variations of the following elements:
- Basic information & key details: It's always a good idea to have a written record of the basics in your summary. This includes information like project name, project ID, project phase, project completion date & current date.
- An indicator of project status or phase. This acts as a form of progress report that's easily referred back to.
- Project background. If you're using your project summary for external purposes, it's important to include a general summary of the project. Outline why your team is working on your project, your chosen approach and other key contextual information.
- Project progress updates. This is especially important if you're using your project summary internally. Refer to project achievements, roadblocks and challenges.
- A project timeline that outlines your project's most important milestones, deliverables and deadlines. This can encompass the entire project or the reporting period at hand.