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Write a Project Recap People Actually Want to Read

by Nathan Zachary
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Most people think that the proper way to write a project recap email is to be as formal as possible and include as much information as possible. After all, we’re probably sending this to a large group of colleagues, including senior managers and directors. In my own personal experience though, that’s not always the best way to go about it.

All the formalities and formation in the world are irrelevant if no one reads past the first sentence. So in this blog, phd thesis editing service gonna walk through a project recap template I use and it’s structured after some of the most effective project recaps I’ve come across at work from my much more capable colleagues. Let’s get started. Hi friends, welcome back to the channel.

Right Off The Bat

Your achievements and learnings will benefit other teams. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve copied an idea from a colleague and adapted it for my own projects. For those of you who watched my intro to event management blog, I basically stole that spreadsheet structure from my teammate, Oscar Wong. And I was only able to do that because he included a hyperlink in his recap email. Second, accountability. As a project goes on, it’s easy to lose sight of the original objectives.

it’s useful to include the metrics we set out to achieve in the recap and clearly state whether we hit those targets or not. We’ll go over exactly how to do this in a little bit. Third is a healthy, selfish reason. Presence in the workplace. Sending out a summary that will benefit others after an entire project is completed is a very natural way to broadcast your achievements without coming off as inauthentic.

Project Recap Emails

I’m actually very interested to hear whether there’s a culture of sending out project recap emails where you work. So let me know down in the comments below. Now that you know the benefits of writing project recaps at work, I’m gonna go over a few practical tips you can use immediately. Feel free to click the link down below or go to my website to download this template and follow along.

First and foremost, you want to write your entire recap on a shared work document as opposed to just composing an email. Why? Number one, this format is much easier for other people, like your manager, to review. Number two, it’s convenient for other team members to give input and feedback since the project itself was most likely a team effort.

Make A Copy Of This Google Doc

Three, you can easily make a copy of this Google Doc the next time you write and recap. And trust me when I tell you this saves a lot of time. The first page of a shared document should just include the title of the email, who you’re sending it to and who you’re CCing and BCCing. There are actually unspoken rules about who should be on which list but we’ll get to that in a little bit.

For now just remember that everyone in the to and CC fields will receive those somewhat spammy, reply to all emails with OMG, congratulations on the project Jeff, how are you still single? While those on the BCC fields will be spared. The actual content starts on the second page and this is a nice little formatting trick I picked up.

Highlight And Copy

Basically, if you just highlight and copy this part, Command + C, it will paste the formatting perfectly within Gmail. So you know how it looks here will be how it looks here. You will also notice I included relevant images, graphs, headers and subheaders to break up large chunks of text and improve readability.

Moving on to the actual content, it’s always best practice to include two to three sentences right at the beginning with quantifiable results. This too long; didn’t read TL;DR snippet has one main objective. It should convey just enough information to help the reader decide whether or not they need to read the rest of the email. For colleagues who want to draw inspiration, the numbers will tell them how big the impact was and they’ll read on to see how you did it.

Senior Leaders And Cross-Functional Teams

They can just glance at this one section, know the end result without having to dig through the entire email. The context part usually describes why the project was needed in the first place. So it’s good to bring up the initial pain point you’re trying to solve for. I’ve also bolded certain phrases and sentences here and throughout the recap that I think are worth emphasizing.

For the business impact section, always include the objectives the project set out to achieve in the first place. For example, three months ago, the working group decided that Project Infinity 3.0 aimed to boost the number of large orders, increase sales and decrease costs. So here you first share measurable results to provide an unbiased view on your performance.

Add A Little Bit Of Subjective Commentary

Then you can add a little bit of subjective commentary explaining how the numbers might have exceeded expectations. Pro tip, always include historical or industry numbers for benchmark purposes. For example, 1.2 million in sales would be terrible if we were at 1.5 million before. So it’s always good to add relevant context. In this next subsection, you wanna briefly talk about what the next steps are given the results that you’ve seen. Are we gonna continue the project?

Why or why not? What are the benefits and risks to doing that? Okay, this next part, takeaways and learnings, is, in my opinion, the most important section but also the most difficult to get right. Why? Well, we’re usually very invested in our own projects, right? We know everything about it.

Everything Is Important

Therefore we think everything we did is relevant to mention in the recap. For the highlight subsection, the trick is to think about the initial user pain point you wanted to address and only include key activities that contributed towards that goal. For example, one of the pain points for Dunder Mifflin was that they were losing market share to their competitors who were selling online.

One of the highlights would be that by copying the website layout of their competitors, they were able to launch their own website much faster. Lowlights is also tricky because no one likes to openly admit mistakes that they’ve made, right? But we know there are no perfect projects apart from this YouTube channel.

My advice here is to ask colleagues and cross-functional teams involved in this project if they were to work with you again, what they wish you would’ve done differently. I really like the phrasing of this question because one, you often receive honest answers as opposed to, “Oh, it was the best project ever.” Two, their answers will often include the solution to the issue as well.

Specific Lowlight

Someone probably mentioned the project manager should be more decisive when problems come up to avoid pushing back deadlines. And for the overall section like takeaways and learnings, the rule of thumb is a maximum of three highlights and three lowlights to keep things concise. Alright, the thank you category. The executive sponsors are usually the senior leaders who asked for the project in the first place and provided mentorship and guidance throughout.

Key Contributors

You wanna give a shout-out to everyone who helped with the project and pro tip, ask your working group to add people here because you will definitely not remember everyone. I have definitely hurt other people’s feelings before. And core team, being the humble professionals that we are we leave ourselves for last and link any relevant documents at the very bottom here.

Also Read: How To Find A Job After A Career Break

The informal rule I talked about earlier is to include the named individuals in the to field and CC the teams of the key contributors so that their teammates and colleagues are aware of their contributions. It’s small things like this that makes us, the humble professionals, such a pleasure to work with. If you found this walkthrough helpful, you might enjoy my blog on the one tip that will improve your communication skills at work.

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