Saturday 5 February 2022

Who needs a project status report and why?

I first encountered this concept in 2005. I had to prepare such a document for the project "Development of a web-store" by the end of the day. The purpose of this note is to convey the benefits of regular reporting, describe the criteria for a "good" project status report, and share sample reports and their templates.

Project Manager

First, no matter what they say, but the preparation of the report encourages the manager to regularly evaluate his project and himself as his "helmsman". Disciplines, in other words. If there is nothing to write in the report in the section "Results obtained" or "News on the project", then, you will agree, any responsible manager will feel somewhat uncomfortable.

Secondly, a properly compiled report helps the project manager in managing his team and the Customer (more on this below). At a minimum, the report informs the Customer and the project team that the project is "alive", it is working and employing specific employees. Here are the section snippets that the project manager fills in.

Report on the status of the project. Project Status Report (version)Project customer
Why does the customer need a report? For the Customer, the project status report is a way to keep abreast of the project without diving into the details. My Customers do not always want to read correspondence, protocols, etc. documentation – there is not enough time. However, all of them are eager to read a brief summary of the project.

Summary report on the status of the project

  • An example of a project status report. Project status Report for Customer (ru-version)Member of the project team
  • Each project participant receives two things from the report: what happens outside his task pane (in other groups, for example) and what tasks he faces for the next period. The overall status of a project is also useful if the motivation of its participants is collective and related to the overall project completion date.


Despite the fact that this group may not take part in the project directly, it often happens that there are "hidden stakeholders" in it. For example, the project provides for the rebranding of the company and the subsequent change of overalls of employees. The HR Director is not part of the team of this project, but wants to know from which quarter it is necessary to include in the budget a change of work clothes.

Project Portfolio Status Report

Example of a project portfolio status report prepared by the Project Office

What is a "good" report?

A good report should reflect:

What has been done in the project since the last period? You can call it "News", "Key achievements", "Deliverables", etc. The essence is simple: after reading only this section, the Customer should immediately get an idea of the project and its status (current status). Convenient, don't you agree?
What are the challenges for the next period for the project and its team? What and when to do with the names. I will add between the lines: the name and surname of the employee opposite some entry in the report is very stimulating for the "characters" to read the document.
Forecast of the project implementation taking into account the current state of affairs.

What other sections might be in the report?

The list of sections in the project status report can be large, choose what you need.

  • Overdue tasks. This section shows the overdue tasks and their current completion dates, indicating the responsible and the reasons for the deviations.
  • Timing and results of the project. The section informs about the milestones of the project and their current/base dates of achievement.
  • Problems and questions to the Customer. List of questions, risks, problems, etc., which require the participation of the Customer. An important section if you want to manage your Customer.

Schedule of the project implementation by deadlines. This is a curve that shows the relative deviation of the timing from the baseline of the project. If a negative trend is visible, then it's time to sound the alarm

Project budget and status. Both in general and on articles. If the budget is spent quarterly and is associated with budgeting, then in the context of quarters. Be sure to specify the budget forecast for the next period. If someone uses the "earned volume", send me an E-mail, I really want to see.
Planned meetings on the project. Relevant for projects in which the schedule of meetings is an important part of communications. For example, consulting projects. Specify the date, agenda and planned composition of participants.

A few more rules for a good report:

  • The report should be brief - from practice no more than two pages of text. I try to design the sections in such a way that they go from the most significant to the less significant. For minor issues, I actively use attachments in the form of files (if you want to, I will open and read).
  • Use emoticons and colors. Let it look a little cartoonist, but it is more likely that the report will be read to the end.
  • A good report should carry a "plot". It's hard to explain and not that easy to do. The author of the report must be in some way a journalist who writes an article about the murder of a well-known businessman or politician. If the report did not cause emotions or actions in the Customer, then you have prepared "just a report". But if the Customer had a desire to write a letter, make 1-2 calls or just "flush the management", then the report was successful.
  • Ask questions in the comments. Perhaps I have in my piggy bank reports and templates that you have right now.

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