Communication is a key aspect of project management. One of the most important things to communicate is the project’s status, particularly to key stakeholders. The project status report is a key tool for keeping stakeholders and project team members updated. However, creating a status report can be time-consuming and stressful in practice.
Creating a project status report doesn’t directly contribute to the project’s goals, but you can’t ignore it. In this article, we’ll reveal how to communicate clearly with stakeholders while managing time wisely.
What is a project status report?
A project status report concisely compares a project’s progress to the project plan. It usually focuses on a few key metrics and task completions to measure how closely actual progress compares to planned progress.
A status report can take many forms, including a written report or an in-person presentation. Each type of project report will usually be tailored to its audience to provide the most relevant and important information.
What is the purpose of a project status report?
A project status report is a communication tool for team members and stakeholders. It’ll include hard facts and figures regarding the project’s progress. While metrics are important, it’s equally important to present them in a way everyone can understand. Graphs, charts, and visual aids usually play a large role in reports as a result.
The same status report may be distributed to multiple people, though often, a report is tailored for a specific audience. The status report may circulate among team members, management, investors, and other stakeholders.
Depending on the audience, a project status report may present different types of information and levels of detail.
Who creates the project status report?
The project status report is usually one of the responsibilities of a project manager. Depending on the project’s organization, the responsibility for creating the status report may be shared with other members of the project administration.
Project management tools play a large role in creating status reports. Tools like Motion make tracking metrics, task progress, and team communication easy. Motion can also help you schedule and manage meetings when your status report is a presentation.
How do you assess project status?
Status reports will use metrics like key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure project progress. They may include project schedule performance, cost performance, and more.
Ideally, the same metrics will be used throughout the project to compare the current status report to earlier ones easily. Motion’s project manager can help assess if your project stays on schedule.
The most cited method of determining a project’s status is to check its current progress compared to its planned progress. However, making that comparison only works when there’s a clearly defined project schedule and breakdown of work. Projects that use waterfall methodologies are more likely to find that method useful.
Agile projects still require project status reports. However, progress toward a defined end won’t measure Agile status. Instead, Agile status reports might include updates on implementing features or progress against the product backlog.
Types of project status report
Not all project status reports are the same. Different types will cover different time periods and be intended for different audiences.
Daily project status report
The daily project status report is used primarily in stand-up meetings, such as the daily stand-up in some Agile projects. Depending on the project and the size of the project team, a daily status report could also be a short email at the end of the day or a quick meeting.
Weekly project status report
Weekly reports are short reports that cover the week’s accomplishments. It’s usually circulated among the project’s team members and the project sponsor. It can include metrics about progress for the week, issues delaying progress, and potential risks.
Monthly project status report
One month is often a sufficient length of time to measure progress meaningfully. It’s long enough to make some progress but not so long that it’s too late to make changes. A month also offers enough time to perform consequential analysis.
You may want to leave smaller issues out of the monthly status report and instead focus on project milestones. A monthly report is more likely to be seen by upper management and sponsors, so focus on issues that matter to them, like budget and major concerns.
Quarterly project status report
A quarterly project status report is a longer and larger report covering the progress of a business quarter. Like the monthly report, quarterly reports are more likely to circulate to stakeholders like investors and executives. More time is devoted to it, and it’s more likely to include a detailed look at metrics and progress.
While it may be more detailed, it’s important not to pack too much information into the report. Keep it digestible and highlight the headlines.
Internal project status report
Rather than being linked to a length of time, this type of report is defined by its intended audience. It’s intended for team members, so it’ll contain useful information — for example, task completion, task assignments, and a focus on areas of concern.
External project status report
As the name implies, external project status reports are intended for people concerned with the project but not team members. While it’s important to be honest about the current status, this report will have a broader focus, addressing progress toward the project’s business objectives. An external report may be of interest to the project sponsor, upper management, the public, or even investors.
How to write a project status report
Summing up your project’s progress in a brief report may sound difficult or intimidating. However, it doesn’t need to be so hard. Instead, you just need to communicate the relevant information clearly. Focus on each section and use tools like charts and graphs to make figures easy to understand.
Parts of a project status report
Each project will organize its status reports differently. Moreover, different projects may want to highlight different aspects, focusing on more relevant or important metrics. Most companies will have requirements or even a template for their status reports. In any case, there are some things that all project status reports should include:
- Project title: The project title should be front and center.
- Project summary or introduction: An overview of the project and the project goals is usually a good idea. Highlight aspects that set your project apart.
- Project health: The specifics of “project health” can vary. However, this section should summarize the project’s status and form a big part of the report. Sum it up with a simple concept, such as grading a project status into green, yellow, or red.
- Tasks completed in the past period: Highlight your accomplishments so far. Depending on the scope of the report, you may want to focus on more significant tasks and leave out small stuff.
- Upcoming tasks in the new period: Offer specific goals and action items for the project’s next stage.
- Issues or blocks: Inform team members and stakeholders of problems the project is facing. It may explain underperformance. They may also be able to offer help.
Tips for an effective project status report
While it doesn’t have to be poetry, writing an effective and timely status report can still be something of an art form. Here are a few tips to ensure you communicate what you mean and use your time wisely.
- Know your audience: Who are you writing for? The report you send your teammates will have a different focus than the one for investors.
- Focus on the point: The overall project’s status is the headline. Avoid getting bogged down in too much detail.
- Focus on metrics: The best way to gauge progress is to check the data.
- Don’t include too much information: You must offer important information, but too much makes it hard to spot significant points.
- Consider your delivery method: Is it a presentation, a newsletter, a report, or something else?
- Request help: It’s never a bad idea to ask for backup, particularly on projects involving technical or specialist knowledge.
Put your project status report into Motion
Project status reports consume time and resources and can even seem like a waste of time. However, they are an important tool for communicating with stakeholders and teammates. While they don’t contribute directly to achieving project goals, they inform people of current tasks and potential roadblocks.
Motion offers a ton of tools for managing your time and communicating with your team. With a high-quality project management tool like Motion, you can track task progress and schedule time to compile project progress reports. Once you’re done, it’s easy to share the finished report as an attachment.