The polymath of the olden times would note down their findings, inventions, and musing in writing on paper. To some extent, I’d say that the same goes for the status of project – or projects for that matter. Have you ever come across Leonardo da Vinci’s 7000 notebook pages that contain his ideas? (Right?)
He was a lone man working on his creativity so he showcased his work encrypted and coded that still interests and baffles humans.
We, however, have transversed a long way from working solo. People tend to work in large organizations, teams, and groups. The antediluvian* ways of taking notes and sending handwritten memos have been replaced with fast technology-integrated communication.
Imagine Leonardo da Vinci be your mentor. We’d all be scratching our heads (albeit, in awe) and we would get nowhere.
We do not have time for encrypted notes in this fast-moving world Leonardo! We need the clear regular-interval status update of where the work is currently so we can get a move on. Let me have a quick Project Status Report please, Danke schön!
What is a Status Report? Why do you need to fuss over it?
A status report is basically to update every one related to the project with the status quo and the progress so far. It is a concise but detailed means of communication. However, for status reports to work effectively, you have to be consistent, regular and concise (Keep everyone on their toes!)
For projects that have a long run, your reports can be monthly or quarterly. For short projects, it can be weekly. Here are the benefits of status report:
- A status report is part of the controlling and monitoring processes of project tracking. It is a keeping-a-tab way, of letting your team know, you are aware of what is happening and where things are heading.
- It increases, fastens and simplifies communication among the organization – keeping everyone informed.
- Create accountability among the team members, with a Status Report to increase performance and productivity. A sense of ownership is necessary to not just make everyone feel a part of the team but to get the most out of their capabilities.
- Status reports are a powerful tool for keeping all of your stakeholders and clients in the loop as well. Those along with your team can gain a clear knowledge of the tasks accomplished, issues to be tackled, risks, scheduling and budgets and the overall shape of the project.
- With each person working individually, and in smaller groups to achieve the ultimate goal, can make everyone lose touch with the bigger picture. A status report can enhance the visibility of everyone on the team; give an insight into the work to project future strategies.
- Want an extra layer of control over your project? Throw a status report into the mix and you’ll have it. It allows you, as a manager, a bird’s eye view of the progress, inertia, performance of the employees and any discrepancies.
- You can extrapolate, envision, plan and then re-plan based to make your project an eventual success to exceed previously set goals. An excellent chance for learning and improving yourself, your team and your project.
- Instead of catering to every team member’s update request separately, create a status report to let everyone know of each other’s progress and what areas need more work and time.
- This could serve as a chance for you to showcase your skills as an enterprising manager. Make everyone aware of any delays and the why behind it. You’ll be able to answer all the questions everyone will have for you as a manager—you’ll already be ahead of the game.
How to Write a Project Status Report?
Let us present to you some of the essential components for your next status report.
Keep in mind that you may have to send a progress report quite often during the same project. So it would be not just convenient for you but easily understandable for your team and clients if you keep a consistent pattern for your Status Report.
There are templates available that you can use to create a Status Report. However, it would be in your best interest to customize the templates to your needs and requirements.
1. Name of the project/Title of the Report/Client Name
Your team members might be engaged in more than one project in your organization. So it would be a good idea to clearly mention the name of the project as the title of the Report. Or you could include the name of the client and who the manager is. That way everyone would be on the same page. Do not make the mistake of assuming that everyone, especially all of the stakeholders, is familiar with all of the information.
2. Project Summary
It would be a good idea to remind everyone of the overall aim/goal for the project, to align everyone’s interest in what needs to be accomplished in the long run.
3. Project on or off track/ Project health?
A quick review of whether the status of the project so far (or during the previous reporting session) has gotten off rails from heading towards the intended end. This will disseminate the information whether the project is in keeps with the long-term or the short-term goals. This would indicate the overall health of your work.
4. Activities so Far, Milestones/Deliverables
Include the touchstones that the team has passed by successfully during the development of the project so far. This would be a source of motivation for the team and an update on the accomplishments so far.
5. Activities Up Next
Make everyone aware of the milestones that need to be accomplished. This should mostly include the tasks that are to performed and completed before the next Status Report hits everyone’s computers. That was everyone on the team can set their minds for the next thing on their to-work-on list.
6. Issues or Challenges
This would be a great chance to relate to everyone the hiccups or the bigger challenges faced in the project. Keeping track of all the issues regularly is a smarter way of eradicating them. Identify the roadblocks, deal with it and move them out of your road. Do that before it piles up and become a major hindrance – your project status report your secret weapon to achieve that.
7. Link Important Tool and Documents
Since everyone on a team will have tasks assigned to them individually, they may want to view the details of their specific task. Since you will not be putting in the details of the complete project in the status report; add links to the associated documents and tools in the relevant fields. This will be a quick and nifty way of placing in an otherwise concise report.
8. Upcoming Milestones
Write up a list of the milestones you, as a project manager, expect from your team. It would be a good idea to specify the time, date and day for these tasks. That would keep to identify their timeline and get it done accordingly.
Some Practices for further Guidance
· Create a Draft, Edit and Send
Create a rough draft for your Status Report, as goes with everything else one usually has to write. Go back to your draft after a while and edit it.
· Stick to the Format
Again, make sure to be consistent with the format, and visual you are using for your status report. It would be easier to understand and would unconsciously stick with whoever reads it multiple times.
· Stick to the Metrics
The above point should also include deciding on the criterion metrics or units you would be measuring to display on your report.
· Stick to the Method of Delivery
Take your pick of the method of delivery for your status report. Use a method that is convenient for everyone to increase the chances of it being read.
· Make it a One-Pager
Keep it simple! Do not make it incomprehensible. Try to restrain your report to only one page.
Before you send out the Status Report, make sure to verify everything on it—you don’t want to send out any wrong information and then having to send corrections. That would undoubtedly increase your work and mar your standing as an assiduous and diligent project team leader.
· Use Project Management Tools
Many project management tools generate the current status report for your project. It would save you lots of time to integrate such tools into your project management.
· Ask for Feedback
It would be a great idea on your part if you politely ask for feedback from the team and the stakeholders on the Status Report. This would not only show initiative but also make the whole report look less electronic and automated to create a sense of alliance.
In addition to all the required/critical activities and progress of the project, try to include any further items that you might consider.
As with any other reports, using visuals is extremely effective. Make use of charts, graphs, tables to show to make it more understandable and easy to read. Whoever is reading your report would want to read it in a short time; visuals are a great assistant for that.
What not to Include
- Do not add any questions — it is your project’s report! Leave the questions for any other office meetings that you hold.
- Do not use an excess of words. Be concise!
- Avoid any discursive sentences or points in your project status report.
- Even if you are mentioning a major setback in the report, do not throw shade. A status report is not a place to express your disapproval.
You’ve got it now!
We believe, armed with this information now, you are ready to make a great Status Report now. Go be today’s Leonardo da Vinci – create your masterpiece!