Are you doing status reporting well for the projects you are managing? Project stakeholders and project managers agree reporting should be one of the focus areas for the role of project manager. However, one study suggests that it is not happening – only 33% of business executives surveyed feel project managers are doing status reporting well. Ouch! Look to your left and then look to your right. Only one of you is doing an adequate job of reporting status on your projects. Is it you?
If we are to consider whether we are doing a good – or even adequate – job of reporting status on the projects we are managing, we must first consider what elements go into a good status report and the best practices of project status reporting. For me, about 5 come to mind so I will focus on those…
Timely, regular delivery. A status report must be meaningful. And by meaningful, I’m talking about more than just content. I mean, it must happen on a regular and timely basis to be useful to the key players on the project – the team, the customer, the key stakeholders…even the delivery team’s senior management, most likely.
Up to date, accurate status. Just as the status report must be regular…it must also be useful in that it must be up to date. Week old information doesn’t serve anyone well on the project and can lead to poor decisions or incorrect decisions being made depending on who has what status info and when.
A dashboard everyone likes. A good dashboard can really make an otherwise nice status report great. Execs like dashboards. Project customers and some busy key stakeholders like dashboards. Dashboards are great for those very busy individuals or the ones requiring only high-level insight into the project’s health. You can use the stop light (green – yellow – red) visual method for reporting – at a very high and sometimes subjective level – a project’s health in key areas like on budget, on time, resource management, and customer satisfaction. Execs will trust it because they didn’t create it and they know if you aren’t being accurate, you are the one who will have to answer for that. Don’t use it as the only status reporting tool, but more as a front page that everyone can look at it.
One stop status reporting. Why make things more difficult than they need to be? The project manager already has enough to do without trying to satisfy every different key stakeholder group with a different status report. Come to some sort of consensus on what makes executive management, the team, the customer and the remaining stakeholders happy and go with that as your all in one project status report. With a good dashboard on the front end, it should satisfy everyone. It may take more time to do the one good report, but you’ll save time in the long run by producing – weekly – that all in one report. Trust me.
An eye on financials. Always keep one eye on financials for the status report. At a minimum report budget health with a green, yellow or red dashboard light. But a brief summary of where things stand each week showing total expenditures and % over or under budget should be helpful. Not too much financial detail – likely not appropriate for all eyes.
Summary / call for input
The status report sort of drives the project. I know – for me anyway – it definitely drives the weekly team and customer status meetings and discussions even more so than the revised weekly project schedule or plan. And for me it always includes issues, what just completed, what’s in progress, what’s coming up, financial summary, resource, summary and some insight into any ongoing change order work. At least those as a minimum.
How about you – what do you include in your best status reports. What odd requests have you had from management or customers for your status reporting? Please share and discuss.
About Brad Egeland
Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad’s site at http://www.bradegeland.com/