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Status Reports


Project status reports are an important part of any effective project management plan. They are a necessary component to monitor and control a project. One of the greatest challenges is to design a project status reporting process that provides information needed to keep a project on track without creating too much project overhead or saddling the reader with useless information or over communicating.

There are a few tips that will provide an effective status reporting process:

Know your project management software

Most organizations use some sort of software to manage projects. Products like Microsoft Project 2013 have a robust menu of reporting templates and automatically create reports that can provide information on the health of a project to a wide range of audiences. These reports are often valuable tools to validate the status being provided or supplement a written report. Written reports and automatically generated reports should move in tandem and paint the same picture.

Reports are by and for people

It is always advisable to create a RACI Chart or Responsibility Assignment Matrix to understand who is who on a project. Once created it is a simple task to see who needs to be informed and who needs to inform.

In general projects will have the following roles:

  • Project Sponsor

  • Stakeholders

  • Project Management

  • Project Team Members

  • Other Management

  • Client Management (If an external project)

Understanding the information each role needs to see, shouldn't see and report on is a key step to help design and create an efficient project status reporting structure.

Roll up

An effective project management reporting structure will build on and summarize the information as provided from details, allowing traceability back to the data that created the summary. Most Project Sponsors and Stakeholders have time to focus on a summary of key information on a dashboard or executive summary format and only want to dive into details when there is an issue or something jumps out as irregular.

Automate

As much as possible automate the reporting process through use of software and tools for scheduling, reminders, form creation, distribution and archiving. Make it easy!

Communicate

Communicate and review the reporting process and requirements at the start of the project to set expectations and understand any special needs.

Timing

How often depends on the scope, project size, duration, team and existing organizational or regulatory processes. Often projects will report status weekly as a generally acceptable process. This may or may not be best for your project or organization.

The goal of any project management status reporting process should be a system that monitors and controls without too much overhead distracting from the project goals and objectives.


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