Do you know how close your project is to achieve its set goals? Is your project on track to hit its goal within the set budget and timeline? Is the client aware of the blockers your team might be experiencing?
You’re in trouble if you’re the project manager and don’t have quick answers to any of these questions.
As the project manager, you must be aware of the project’s progress at all times. Even more important, the project stakeholders must stay apprised of the project’s progress throughout the development cycle. And the best way to make that happen is through a project status report.
So, here is what you’re going to learn today:
- What is a project status report?
- Importance of project status reports
- Types of project status reports
- What’s contained in a project status report?
- 5 steps to write a project status report
What is a Project Status Report?
A project status report is a high-level overview describing project progress within a specified time period. It then compares the progress against the project plan.
Most project status reports are presented to teams in a visual way using graphs, charts, and other diagrams. This helps your team understand the report quicker. Below is a project status report example.
Project status reports are compiled consistently throughout the project. They highlight critical project elements like:
- Cost, budget, and other financial resources
- Project scope
- Project schedule
- Milestones and timelines
- Completed and outstanding tasks
- Issues or risks and how they are being handled
A good project status report should have action points. This is especially important when covering the blockers encountered in the project. It’ll help all key stakeholders know what they are up against and the steps they can take to manage the risks and roadblocks.
We also recommend writing simple project status reports. They should be free of technical jargon, as not all stakeholders are industry experts.
Moreover, it’s advisable to create these reports as regularly as is necessary. Don’t be that kind of project manager who only delivers a report when something goes wrong. That’s not the image you want to portray to your clients.
Create these reports regularly to ensure everyone stays in the loop about what’s happening with the project. This is one of the best ways to ensure complete visibility. It keeps both your team and stakeholders happy. Happy stakeholders are good for your business.
Importance of Project Status Reports
The project status report provides clarity on the project’s progress. They’re also vital for keeping all stakeholders on the same page.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of compiling a project status report.
1. Monitor Project Health Easily
No one likes to be blindsided. It’s also every project manager’s worst nightmare to reach the end of a project only to realize that you’ve been off track the whole time. This will cost your company lots of time, money, and resources.
A healthy project stays aligned with the project plan. And regular project status reports help to frequently keep you and your team updated on the project’s health.
In case you find something that’s not aligning, you can quickly adjust and return to the original plan.
2. Streamline Communication with Stakeholders
From goal-setting to project completion, communication is key to project success. It keeps all teammates in tune with the project and with each other. This boosts teamwork, which is a vital element for project success.
Consider this; two in five projects fail to reach their intended goal. The biggest culprit behind that is poor communication.
Writing a project status report goes a long way toward connecting all project stakeholders. Moreover, you’ll get the stakeholders talking. They’ll start sharing recommendations on how to address any identified roadblocks.
3. Proactively Discover Project Bottlenecks
If you come across risks and hindrances while executing the project plan, your project status report will let others see the bottlenecks and what you’re doing to resolve them.
Risks can be a horror story for project managers, especially when they come close to the deadline. They can cause:
- Delayed project delivery
- Revenue losses
- Project failure
With frequent project status reports, you can identify project roadblocks fast and address them early. You can also find the source of the blockers and get them out of the way. This stops the risks from adversely affecting your project timeline.
4. Outline Key Action Items
Project status reports highlight task owners and show who is responsible for each deliverable. They record past events, actions, and decisions. This helps amplify the project goals, action items, and next steps for each phase.
Here’s an action item template example.
The insights from these reports will help you make informed decisions moving forward. For example, you’ll be able to track tasks that are taking longer than expected to complete. Or team members that usually take longer to complete their tasks.
Whatever the case is, you’ll have actionable information to make the right decisions and keep the project on track.
5. Improves Project Cost Management
Project status reports will help you prevent cost overruns. Project cost overruns affect the current project and inhibit your ability to execute future projects.
With timely project status reports, you’ll stay on top of the following:
- The approved project budget
- Resource requirements
- The cost estimates
- Current expenses
- Project expenditures
The project status report will help you keep expenditures in check and within the approved budget.
Types of Project Status Reports
The four main types of project status reports are daily, monthly, annual, and weekly project status reports.
Daily and weekly reports are sent to teammates with whom you share daily tasks and deliverables. This helps you beat daily task deadlines and achieve project milestones.
Meanwhile, monthly project status reports give you a clearer picture of how your project is doing.
Here is a sample monthly project status report:
We recommend preparing a weekly status report for close teammates. You can create a monthly or bi-monthly report for high-level managers and stakeholders.
Creating these reports should also be straightforward if you use the right project management tool.
For example, our platform Tara AI generates automated weekly or biweekly sprint reports. You can also have these reports delivered to your Slack channel automatically. This takes the hassle out of creating project status reports.
So you can spend less time switching between random sheets to create reports and more time spearheading your team toward project accomplishment.
What’s Contained in a Project Status Report?
There are multiple project report writing templates online that you can use to create your own reports. However, you’ll notice that they all have different formats. That’s because reports are meant to be custom and made to fit specific needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all project status report template out there.
Nevertheless, every project status report should have these six key elements:
1. General Project Details
These details are unique to every project and will help you keep your reports organized. Include this information on the cover page of the report.
General project details include the project name, project code or ID, project managers and key team members, project start and end dates, and the report’s date and timestamp.
2. An Executive Summary
This is a summary of the critical details in your report. The reader can see what to expect from the report and the project’s overall health at a glance. In our opinion, this is one of the most critical sections of a project status report.
Include details like project goals, scope, deliverables, progress, key milestones, risks, and financial details.
Indicate the current status of the project here using visuals like colors. For instance, use green to show completed tasks, amber to show tasks in progress, and red to show pending tasks. You can add a key to show what each color means.
3. Project Budget
Highlight your expenditure, costs, budget, and other financial resources. Remember to mention if the project is on, under, or over the budget.
4. Project Milestone and Task Review
Show the percentage of milestones completed, individual project tasks, planned start and end dates, and the actual start and end dates.
Use graphs, charts, and tables to make this section easier to understand and more engaging.
5. Project Bottlenecks or Risks
Note down any potential risks to project success. You should also highlight how you plan to mitigate these issues.
6. Quality Assurance
In this optional section, ask yourself whether the project will meet the intended quality standards. If not, then show what improvements need to be made for it to do so.
This is a great way to win stakeholder trust. It shows your deep understanding of the project and your commitment as a team to handle every issue that may compromise the final product’s quality.
7. Project Team Status
Here, you group teams into departments and show their responsibilities. Reveal their scheduled, completed, pending, and upcoming tasks.
Visualize this data along with general team progress for ease of understanding.
5 Steps to Write a Project Status Report
Let’s now get into the process of writing a comprehensive project status report. Follow these five steps:
1. Figure Out Your Target Audience
Knowing your target audience helps you deliver what matters most to them. It also informs you how to prepare the report.
For example, if you’re writing a report for your teammates, you’ll have the liberty to expound on each detail and even add a few technical words.
But high-level CEOs, investors, and stakeholders have very limited time. So they skim through reports to get the bigger picture. Therefore, using visual aids and highlighting the most important details will help you reach this audience more effectively.
Here’s an example.
Also, you’ll want to avoid using technical words for this audience.
The bottom line is you should always prepare the report with your target audience in mind.
2. Assemble Your Data from All the Sources
Collect data from all project departments before sitting down to write your project status report. It’s challenging and time-consuming to compile data for big, complex projects manually.
In this case, a project management tool will help you have all the information in one place. This allows you to get all project data from multiple departments in one place. These tools will help you in resource management and team collaboration too.
3. Put Together Your First Draft
You’ll first want to outline your key segments so you don’t leave any out.
With the outline in place, start writing your report and inputting data in each section. If unsure where to start, you can use a template for inspiration and customize it to your needs.
4. Cover All the Project Aspects in Detail
All your sections should be explained in detail. But remember that your project status report is only meant to give readers a glimpse of the entire project.
Therefore, do not overload the status report with too much information. Additional details can be provided upon request.
5. Create a Compelling Executive Summary
This is a key part of the report. It may be the only thing that top-level stakeholders and investors read. So make it interesting.
Include project goals, key deliverables, progress, health, milestones, risks, and financial details.
A project status report is a document that describes project progress within a specified time period. It then compares the progress against the project plan.
A status report helps you streamline communication, predict project bottlenecks, monitor project health, and improve team productivity.
We have discussed the types of project status reports, what you’ll find in it, and the five steps to creating an effective report. Remember to add visuals to your report. They are effective in aiding report understanding.