Project status reports are the main medium of communication between your project and its various stakeholders. The regularity of the reporting can vary between weekly, biweekly, monthly or at set milestones in the project’s path. Whenever it is prepared and shared, the most important thing is that you, as project manager, are making use of the opportunity to deliver effective project reports.
The benefits of project status reports are many and help you to get additional oversight and implicit sign-off on the project’s progress. A good report will inform stakeholders of project health in terms of budget, milestones reached, and work completed, while also flagging up potential risks and providing transparency about decisions and activity within the project.
To ensure that you are getting the most out of the time you spend creating reports and the time others spend reviewing them, here’s a simple breakdown of what goes into effective project reports.
- Project name, client name, date and scope
These are basic details that remain the same (other than the date naturally) throughout the course of the project and make it easier to identify it as well as refreshing people’s memory about what the focus of the project is and what it seeks to achieve.
- Current project status
Give a brief project health update, so that at a glance team members and other stakeholders can get a rough idea of how the project is performing. You can provide this with a simple Poor, Average, Good rating, based on a key metric or performance indicator. For example, if you had budgeted to have spent 60% of your available time by that point and to have 60% of the project complete but had actually spent 50% of your budgeted time and had 55% of your project completed then the project would be Good as it is significantly under budget, but it would be important to note that it was also behind schedule.
- What has been accomplished
Once the reader has an overview of how the project is progressing, you can begin to break down the project details. Begin by addressing the achievements of the project team since the last report, stating what was due to be completed and what was completed in the timeframe.
- Current and future tasks
Address what the team is currently working on and what the next round of tasks are. This will serve to inform stakeholders about what to expect from your team in the future and the next project status reports.
- Identify present issues and possible risks
As part of any risk management plan, it’s important to be able to identify potential project risks and how likely they are to occur. At this section of your status report, inform stakeholders of current problems that have arisen and how they are being dealt with, as well as possible future issues and what risk management plan is in place to deal with them should they arise.
- Past, current and future delivery dates
Each project will have predefined milestones, setting out the dates by which certain tasks must be accomplished or deliverables provided. In this section you can include an updated list of what milestones have been reached and when, as well as including all future milestones and when you believe they shall be reached in comparison to when they were scheduled to be.
- Important notes and comments
Not everything can be included in facts and figures so to round off your report you can include a more descriptive update on how you feel the project is progressing and if there are any risks that you believe should be escalated and reviewed by relevant stakeholders.