The Field Service Postcard: does your email get through?

16. 04. 18 John Chapman

Field Service Postcards were used by soldiers on active service to send speedy messages home without any need for censoring by their officers.

Their purpose was to reassure their loved ones that they were alive and well and to confirm that letters and parcels from home were getting through to the Front.

The soldier was allowed to delete as appropriate from a selection of pre-printed sentences.

If anything other than a date and signature were added the card would be destroyed.

Communication today

According to, the ‘average office worker receives 121 emails and sends out 40 business emails every day’. With so much communication, long emails are unlikely to be read in full. It is more likely they will be skim read or just ignored; a type of censorship on the part of the recipient. Yet email is not going away. We need to embrace the best parts of this medium, the immediacy, the ease of use, guaranteed delivery, and permanence, and use it in a way that is going to be efficient and effective.

Project Highlight Report

One of the reports in the PRINCE2 methodology is the Highlight Report.

A Highlight Report is used to provide the Project Board (and possibly other stakeholders) with a summary of the stage status at intervals defined by them. The Project Board uses the report to monitor stage and project progress. The Project Manager also uses it to advise the Project Board of any potential problems or areas where the Project Board could help.

The following quality criteria should be observed:

  • The level and frequency of progress reporting required by the Project Board is right for the stage and/or project
  • The Project Manager provides the Highlight Report at the frequency, and with the content, required by the Project Board
  • The information is timely, useful, accurate and objective
  • The report highlights any potential problem areas.

So what has that got to do with letters from the front line 100 years ago?

Project Status Post Card – the modern day Field Service Postcard

Using the concept of the field service postcard, we have the project highlight post card, together with a modern, easy to use interpretation using emoticons.

The content to say:

  • Project going well / minor issues / going badly
  • On time to deliver / delivery is delayed / project has stopped making progress
  • Remaining within budget / more money needed / serious financial issues
  • Delivery confidence indicator is(circle)
  • We need to meet / no meeting necessary
  • Morale is

Green |Green / Amber | Amber | Amber / Red | Red

  • We need to meet / no meeting necessary
  • Morale is

An example layout


What if from a professional perspective we were recognised for our brevity? Our ability to be concise, to the point, succinct, and brief; which means that when someone sees our email they know it can be read and understood quickly.

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John Chapman

Written by:

John Chapman

Programme Director