DIY Project Descriptions: Part Two

DIY Project Descriptions: Part Two

Understanding the Issues-Solutions-Benefits Framework

In part one of the DIY Project Descriptions; I shared places where you can find project information.

Taking these proactive steps can be a lifesaver when you in the last hours of proposal production and you can’t find the project manager to get the relevant project information.

In part two, I share with you the framework to take this information and write your project description using the Issues-Solutions-Benefits Framework.

Let’s start by defining each section of the framework.

Issues

The project is developed because the client has an issue or problem they need to solve. Examples of issues are:

  • Adding additional lanes to a roadway
  • Renovating an elementary school
  • Expanding an airport terminal

Issues are focused on the problem the client needs to be solved. This is what they hired your firm to solve.

Issues should be client-centric when they are written.

Solutions

These are the answers to the client’s issues. Using the examples above, possible solutions are:

  • A particular roadway design that allows for an additional lane to fit within the right-of-way,
  • Renovation designs and retrofits conducive to 21st Century School Design and specific technology components that were incorporated; and
  • The particular planning and layout configuration of the terminal, gates, and associated taxiways and aprons to create the maximum expansion opportunity.

My examples above are very simplistic. Solutions are often several paragraphs of detailed design approaches and methodologies.

Solutions are focused on your firm, your approach, your methodologies and any innovation of each that your firm discovered through the project execution.

We will get to how these should be organized later in a post, so stay with me.

Benefits

Benefits are the most often left-out component of most project descriptions and resumes. They are the hardest portion of the description to write which is why they are so often omitted.

The reason is that most, non-marketing professionals, do not really understand what a true benefit is.

Benefits are results.

By asking the familiar question, “What’s in it for me?” or in our case the client, you are forced to focus on the client’s perception of the solutions.

For project descriptions, they should focus on what value your client will gain from the new roadway or upgraded elementary school.

Again, using the examples from above, the benefits would be the results achieved after applying your firm’s solutions.

  • Increasing capacity on a particular roadway might decrease a loss of productivity for drivers OR improve safety by decreasing the number of accidents.
  • Renovating and upgrading an elementary school might result in additional capacity keeping the student/teacher ratios to the optimal level OR support new learning styles such as 21st Century Learning.
  • Expanding an airport terminal might increase commercial flights and expand retail opportunities thus creating additional revenue for the airport OR additional direct and indirect jobs.

A trick I use is to state the feature, expanding a roadway, and then say the word “SO” and then try to get my technical staff to finish the sentence.

The part after the so (or sometimes multiple “so’s”) is usually where I find the good stuff–the benefits!

You can hit gold if you can put some quantifying statistics to the benefits. Not only explain the additional number of vehicles per hour for the additional roadway lane but actually, quantify the time saved or productivity saved per hour and your project description will be powerful.

So now that you have a basic understanding of the pieces that make up the Issues-Solutions-Benefits Framework, in part three, we will put all the pieces together to write a great project description.

Your Turn

Do you have any tricks to uncovering the hidden benefits of your projects? Do you have any methods to quantifying those benefits?

Share your tips and tricks below in the comments.

Missed Part 1 of this three-part series where I teach you how to create your own project descriptions? Read it here.

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