Did you know that 59% of employees in the US blame communication as their team’s biggest obstacle to success? 29% also hold accountability as one of the main culprits. Makes sense though.
Often lack of communication is what takes a project off track and before you know it, everyone starts pointing fingers and shooting laser-focused glares. Fortunately, a project Status Report can help combat both these challenges.
Such a Report contains updates on a project’s well-being, how much has been covered, how much of it is in the pipeline, and what needs to be done — that’s accountability and communication on the progress made at their best.
The good news is making project Status reports isn’t a tough nut to crack. In fact, tools and templates can help you create these in no time.
So let’s start from the scratch — what a project status report is, how it can benefit your project management, what it covers, and how you can make one.
What is a Project Status Report?
A project status report is a report on a project’s health, its progress, issues, and risks involved in it. It packs information on the project schedule, costs, scope, and more.
With such details at hand, stakeholders can immediately take action on the arising challenges and any risks highlighted. They can also get a snapshot of how well their budget for the project is faring.
Let’s say you’re working on updating your manager on your outreach marketing plan.
Instead of sending email updates every other day, you can compile a project status report that tells how many people you’ve emailed so far, what’s in progress, how much of your goal you’ve achieved, and if you’re seeing any issues in the project.
Here’s an idea:
To make things easier and visually appealing for your reader, you can use the color coding system in these reports while sharing updates. Here’s an example:
- Use the color green to show parts of your project that are on track
- Assign the color yellow to show areas that are in trouble
- Color code something red if it needs immediate attention
You can send out project status reports weekly, monthly, or even quarterly depending on how big your project is, how frequently you need to communicate progress, and when your manager or stakeholders wish to hear from you.
What Are the Benefits of a Project Status Report?
From a manager’s lens, a project status report is a way to track a project’s progress. From an employee’s lens, such a report is a reflective one that gives a bird’s eye view of how much of a project is covered and how well it’s going.
With a project status report serving as a communication tool between you and the stakeholders, things are less likely to fall through the cracks. Accountability is also intact as everything is documented.
Hence, the benefits of a project status report can be boiled down to the following:
- It simplifies communication and encourages accountability, keeping things transparent
- It identifies risks on the spot so there are better odds of taking action on it in time
- It supports better resource management and reduces budget overflows
So you know how helpful a project status report is. Ready to create one? Let’s show you what your report should cover before telling you how to design a project status report.
What Should a Good Project Status Report Include?
If your manager has told you what he needs in a status report in advance, then you’re already one step ahead and can skip over to the next section.
If creating a project status report is squarely your responsibility including deciding what to add to it, know this — add all the essential details that your manager would want to see.
Briefly, your project status report needs to cover the following:
- Task progress: An update on what’s in progress, what’s accomplished, and what’s due.
- Issues: Identify prevailing issues, what you’re doing about them and request what manager(s) need to do.
- Milestones: This is specifically important if you’re in charge of a large project and you’ve deadlines set to complete parts of it.
- Financial health: Lastly, make sure you share budgetary details. On average, projects are cost overrun by 27%. One in six projects are also overrun by a whopping 200%(!). You can prevent such budget mismanagement by giving a full picture of where the cash is going and if more would be needed.
While this is the pillar content you need to include in your status report, here’s a more detailed look at the sections you need to add:
Project information: Quick details of the project.
1. Project name
2. Project manager
Project report details: This way the manager knows you’re the one submitting the report and on which date relative to the decided project completion date.
3. Author name
Project summary: At a glance brief of the project at hand.
5. Due date
Project metrics: Dedicate this section to all the numbers-based info.
Issues/Risks: Talk about the obstacles you’ve encountered and the steps you took to deal with them
Milestone timeline: An overview of the project’s schedule. If your project is divided into several tasks, share deadlines, the work completed, and the work due.
Since dates can be tough to understand at a glance, use a visually understandable format such as a timeline to show them like this:
How to Create a Project Status Report
Follow these four steps to create your project report:
1. Gather all the key information
It’s never challenging to gather all the key information. After all, you’re the one spearheading the project so all the info is often handy.
What’s tough though is distilling the information to deliver an accurate and brief picture of the project. This means you need to start by filtering through all the information — no overstuffing.
For example, if you’re creating an online course or membership site, you’ll likely want to update your content director on which sections or lessons are complete as well as ones that are still in progress or in the pipeline.
2. Know your target audience
Knowing who you’re writing a status report for helps you deliver the information needed. For instance, CEOs, directors, and other high-level people often need big picture highlights.
A manager, immediate stakeholders or teammates, on the other hand, require a more detailed idea on a weekly basis. In contrast, reports to CEOs and directors go either monthly or quarterly.
3. Write your copy beforehand
Ideally, short sentences are the best. They keep things easy on the eyes for your reader.
Even if you have to write details in some places, pair them with charts and graphs and a project completion timeline.
Here’s a good example doing that:
4. Work with a suitable template
You need a regular format or template for your report to save time and reduce errors. Pick one that addresses all the basics that go in a status report. This way you can manage your reader’s expectations better as well.
Without a set template for your project status report, you might miss a vital detail or two. Or, your manager might have additional questions. If this repeats regularly, it can get super frustrating, super fast. And not just for you, but for the recipient too.
Finding it hard to come up with a template from scratch? Pick from ready-to-go templates that a presentation software offers. This can help you create a project status report in minutes.
Each template is editable so you can tweak it to align with your company’s branding. Once you’ve made these changes, save the template so you don’t need to update it every time you design a status report.
Pro tip: Highlight anything that needs attention, for instance, like this:
Best Practices for Creating a Project Status Report
Before we wrap up, let’s leave you with some tips to creating an awesome status report that your manager appreciates:
- Keep your report simple and readable. To this end, use easy to understand fonts and stick with colors that go with each other. Don’t overload info or give extra details
- Visualize data whenever you can. Pie charts, bar charts, and graphs make it easy to understand things at a glance
- Be consistent. Use the same design, color palette, fonts, and other branding elements. This helps set clear expectations
- Share the most important points first if you cover executive summaries (you usually need to add summaries if it’s a monthly or quarterly report)
- Most of the details in your report like the project name, phases, milestones, and more will remain the same throughout the project. So it’s best you add them once and use the same file by copying it every time you make a project status report
Summing it Up
See, wasn’t creating a project status report easy? All you’ve got to do is gather the relevant information, filter the most important details, and finally add them to a template.
In fact, creating such a report can be a matter of only a few minutes if you use a standard report template and proper reporting tools.
So, are you ready to create one?
Author Bio: Masooam Memon is a pizza-loving freelance writer for SaaS companies like Visme. When she’s not writing actionable blog posts, she has her head buried in a fantasy novel or business book.
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