Writing Project Case Studies
I've been updating my website recently and realized there isn't much information online about how to talk and write about our roles on projects after we complete them. It's difficult to demonstrate what we do in project management—we don't really have visuals or code to show. While it's obvious to a fellow project manager the blood, sweat, tears, and brains that goes into managing a project, it's hard to express to others. Here's what I've started focusing on when writing about my work:
Metrics and data
If you're not already tracking data or metrics for your projects, you should start (or go back and gather this if you're able to!). Use things like project profitability metrics, success criteria, and client quotes or testimonials to back up your writing or discussion of projects you've worked on. Here are some great resources to learn more about tracking your project data:
People & communication
The biggest part of our jobs is communication. We deal with people all day—from emails, meetings, assigning work, answering questions, and setting expectations, we are all about people and communication. Emphasize, in concrete terms, the way you've dealt with people on your projects: setting specific types of expectations, mediating and clearing up a particularly difficult project issue, or delivering daily as well as weekly updates to your team, management, and clients.
Project needs and results
Yes, metrics and data are super helpful, as are describing methodology, project requirements, and platforms. But the most useful—and obvious—context to describe a project in is to describe exactly what was required and what was delivered. Conveniently, this also works well for projects that aren't possible to directly link to or mention by name (because of NDAs or other agreements). Use pull quotes, bulleted lists, and short, descriptive sentences to get your point across. Here's a guideline I've developed for my own project case studies:
- Descriptive title (example: A scaleable, well-designed e-commerce site for a bootstrapped startup)
- High-level requirements and technologies list
- Longer-form, descriptive paragraph of my client & their project needs
- Single sentence description of the action my team and I took
- Bulleted list to break down major milestones, issues, and successes throughout the project
- Descriptive paragraph of project results
- List of project metrics
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