Project Management

How to Deliver Accurate Project Status Reports

Status reports in project management are great ways to provide to all project stakeholders good visibility over progress and performance. Furthermore, the reports can assure buy-in from the stakeholders if are structured enough to be concise and easy to read.

Usually there are two main categories of project stakeholders that need to informed via status reports: internal top management and customer management.

A good practice would be for the customer stakeholders to be informed about the project progress on a weekly and monthly basis while for the internal top management is sufficient to receive a monthly report, but only in case no extraordinary events happen. During crisis situations, internal top management can be notified as well on a weekly basis.

Weekly Status Reports

The weekly reports suitable for a close group of stakeholders, mostly for the people which are actively involved in the project development. The topics to be shared in a weekly report are the following:

  • Weekly Progress
  • Encountered Issues or Delays
  • Topics to be addressed with Priority

Additional topics might be included as well at the discretion of the project manager.

Monthly Status Reports

The monthly report needs to be quite brief but informative enough to provide a good picture over the project's progress. As for the format, try to keep all the info in the body of the email. If you put the status into an attachment, that would mean some additional extra clicks for your stakeholders to do. That doesn't mean you should avoid them in case you have good reports to be shared.

Furthermore, it is important to have backups in a central location, i.e. Google Drive can be used for files sharing and Confluence can be used to store the body of the emails for further reference. That will assure, upon request, information access for everyone and from everywhere.

The monthly status reports will be sent to two stakeholder types. However, the content will not be the same. The customer will receive an official project status while the internal reports will address other topics like customer relationship status or profitability.

Customer Monthly Project Status Report

Below there is the structure of the monthly report for the customer:

  • Project Name
  • Project Status - High-Level information
  • Project KPIs (to be decided together with the customer what is meaningful for them)
  • Project Timeline and Milestones
  • Identified Risks
  • Any additional topics worth mentioned to the stakeholders.

Internal Monthly Project Status Report

One smart way to provide a super-fast status would be with colors. Just state some PM areas and color them according to level of urgency.
Please see below an example:

Scope Timeline Budget Customer Relationship Risks

In this table green means "All good", yellow means "Under observation" and red means "Immediate attention required!".
This table can be used as well for customer reports but, of course with the right indicators used.

In addition to the colored table, you would need to provide as well some additional info about the project, like:

  • Project Name.
  • Project brief KPIs.
    • Scope
    • Timeline and Milestones
    • Budget
  • Project Status - High-level information.
  • Project Team
  • Customer Relationship
  • Identified Risks.

Best Practices

Please see below some best practices on how to write accurate and meaningful project status reports:

  • Be honest!. Honesty is super important for these reports. Even if you are not sharing good news, it's best to be honest about the status because sooner or later the truth will come out and when it does, you will be the only one blamed for not being honest.
  • Don't provide breaking news in status reports. If the project gets delayed with 1 month, don't inform everyone for the first time in the status report about this. Instead, address this issue early on a separate email thread. The status report should only brief the stakeholders about past events.
  • Keep it short. Be brief about the information you are sharing. It if is too long, almost nobody will read it.

I hope you find useful these reports structure. Please share any tips that you believe will create a more effective way to deliver meaningful and accurate project reporting.

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