While not necessarily the most awesome part of a project journey, the importance of progress report making is undeniable. They cut through the haze of project progress and give the project manager clear visibility of what’s actually happening. They are like a glass-bottomed boat cruising along the course of the project, letting you see every minute detail that would otherwise be hidden. When you think about it like that, project status report creation does actually seem a bit awesome.
A project status report should cover:
- What the current task is
- What percentage of the task is complete
- What challenges are expected to be faced
- The scheduled task completion deadline
- If everything is going as initially projected
So, as the importance of progress report making is so clear, how often should they be delivered? Generally, they are broken down into manageable milestones, such as daily, weekly and monthly. Naturally these different waypoints on your journey have different purposes and expectations. So, here’s a breakdown of what each project status report should contain.
To keep the inside track on everything that’s happening within your project, checking in on team members daily can help you keep your finger on the pulse of the project. The most important difference with getting a daily project status report is that they shouldn’t take up too much of an employee’s time.
To avoid this a good project manager should be flexible in the manner that the report is delivered. While a written memo or formal report are the main forms that project progress reports are delivered in, for daily reporting simplicity is key.
One option is for the project manager to implement a system of simple check-boxes, using percentages, which can be filled in easily on an online project management solution. This allows team members to quickly and easily enter essential data at the end of their day, without it affecting productivity.
A week is a great short-term waypoint to check in and get more detailed information about how a team member is managing with their task strand. It allows for a more detailed picture to be painted of what has been done over the past working week and whether or not goals and direction are still aligned.
Team members should be encouraged to provide at least one or two lines of information where necessary. This will flag up potential project risks and inform the project manager of any unexpected issues which arose and prevented expected progress.
The PM can then collate the information and hold a personal meeting to verbally discuss anything vital for project success in person. The most important thing however is for the project status report to give the PM a clear idea that everything is still going in the right direction.
Depending on project length, a monthly project status report can often be the most long-term reporting period available to a project manager. This means that they are often most effective as overall review tools, with team members giving their opinion on how tasks were handled.
If running a three-interval report policy, the most pressing and immediate situations will be dealt with long before the monthly milestone is reached. However, it is very useful to get some distance and give a comprehensive overview of the project.
Often when situations arise on a daily or weekly basis they can seem either catastrophic or non-important. After a month it can be a lot clearer how key those moments were and so the reactions to them can be a great tool for learning about your own and your team’s competence in managing challenges.