There are hundreds of articles out there about email best practices, and I promise this won’t be some lame, generic version of them. Here, we’re talking project management emails specifically.
I’ll share what I’ve learned in the four years I spent as an IT PMO (project management office) lead who has had her share of feedback on what I was sending out from C-suite executives, department heads, and my project teams.
It wasn’t all pretty, but hopefully I can help you avoid some of my mistakes.
Email tip #1: Pick one objective
It’s PMI’s (Project Management Institute) best practice to categorize project meetings by a single objective and not mix them into one big meeting. Use the same thinking for emails. Is the email going to give updates with meeting minutes or status reports? Or is it to request something from the recipient? It’s best to stick to one purpose for each email and make that sole purpose clear. Use the email title to state the email type (e.g., Action Needed: [request] or Project X Updates).
Bonus Tip: Decide if emails will be a format in which you assign tasks or not. I recommend not doing this, even if your email system is integrated to your project management system with an add on that creates tasks automatically. Team members can get confused and tasks missed if they’re responsible for managing the income of requests from multiple sources, especially lengthy emails.
Email tip #2: Stick to a send schedule
Consistency builds trust so by delivering project status reports at the same time on the same day, executives will view you as confident, competent, reliable, and respectful. It’s just a fact that they likely won’t religiously read the reports, but they’ll feel confident in you, as they will know that the information is going to be there when they do need it.
Bonus tip: Schedule the time for when your email system sends out the message, if possible. My former executive steering committee preferred to have access to all reports on Mondays for when they’d gather together that week to review department statuses. My team and I would block off time on Fridays to prepare them and then schedule for them to send on Sunday evening. Then leadership always knew they were accessible, but the emails were also not buried at the bottom of their inboxes under all of the weekend’s emails.
Email tip #3: Use the right attachment file type
Make sure the file types you use for attachments are compatible with what the recipient can open. This especially applies when sending files to your clients or outside consultants. Not everyone has Microsoft PowerPoint or secure Google Slides access, so sending them information in different formats is frustrating. This can also create a time suck for the person on the other end when trying to figure out how to convert the file to what they need.
Bonus tip: It’s just a reality that some people like to have info printed. So consider if the recipient is “old school” and needs to print the file. No sense in fighting this, just make sure the format you use is printer friendly.
For those of you who need to print these tips, I’ve got you covered with this printer-friendly version.
If you’d like to learn more about how project management software can help your business, you can schedule time for a call with an expert software advisor. You can also start a live chat here. I promise they’ll be just as helpful as I hopefully was.