International Project Management Day




Project Status Reports


Quick Summary
Several different one-page document formats for getting a true picture of a project or portfolio at a glance, and a presentation format for talking to management.


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What this is

Five different formats that can be used to summarize and communicate project status to the team and Management. This file includes document formats which capture status on one page and can easily be handed out or posted on walls for visibility. It also includes several presentation slide formats that can be used for reporting status in management meetings. The file also includes a one-page format for summarizing status on multiple projects.


Why it's useful

Regular status reports help ensure that the team has clear visibility to the true state of a project and that Management stays properly informed about project progress, difficulties, and issues, by periodically getting the right kinds of information from the project manager. Frequent communication of project status and issues is a vital part of effective project risk management.

The reports should let management know whether the project is on track to deliver its outcome as planned, and must highlight to management any place where their decision-making or direct help is needed.


How to use it

  1. Review the included status report formats and select the one that seems most appropriate for your needs, or create your own hybrid.

  2. In communication planning with your team and stakeholders during the project front-end, decide on the initial period for the status report and who should receive it. This can be documented in your Communications Plan.

  3. Decide on appropriate definitions for indicators in the report. For example, if you choose a format that calls for a 'red, yellow, green' indicator of project health: Green can mean the project is on track for hitting schedule, cost, and requirements (scope) goals, and there are no major issues; Yellow can mean early warning of potential risk to either cost, schedule, or scope, and refer the reader to the Issues section for details; and Red can mean that one or more serious issues have put project success in jeopardy. Adjust these definitions to fit your project's critical success factors and goals.

  4. The project manager then creates and sends this report at the agreed-upon frequency to the recipients. Note that you don't have to wait until the Execution Phase of the project to start sending status reports—updating the team and stakeholders during the earlier project phases is a good way to increase project knowledge and decrease risk. It is essential to be periodically updating the team and stakeholders by the Execution Phase at the latest. Also, you can change the frequency of the reports as necessary—a bi-weekly report can become weekly during a time of intense project activity.

  5. Pay attention to the type and level of detail the report suggests. Sometimes communication with management can be of low quality because too MUCH information is provided, and busy executives can't determine what actions they need to take to help the project.

Special note for small projects: If you're on a relatively short timeframe project or a project with a very small team-say a very short feature enhancement to an existing product or an internal department project, or any similar, very straightforward effort—it may seem like no formal status reporting is needed. Before you reach this conclusion think about the following:

  • What status tracking and "reporting" will be helpful for your team members (and their managers)? Even if there are just a few of you, it can still be helpful to keep everyone on the same page with what's done, what's not, and what issues need to be worked. Actually this can be really important for small projects, because by definition your team members are probably working on multiple other projects at once. You need to keep status of YOUR project in front of everyone so nothing gets dropped! See formats 1 and 2; these formats provide two different ways to convey current status simply through keeping track of planned vs. actual work.
  • Who are the project stakeholders besides those few people doing work on your project? Stakeholders are those who have some reason to care about the outcome of your project. They could be customers or users of the project's eventual deliverable; they could be managers whose staff are working on the project; they could the ones providing the budget for the program. Do these people need to be informed of status along the way? What would they like to know about how the project is progressing? See format #4—it shows how to summarize the project, status, and issues, in 'slide format' for easy reading. And of course, this info can simply be used as bullets in an email to the right people.

This template requires a Premium Subscription
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