Sunday 24 April 2022

The project report should contain meaningful content


Creating regular reports on the progress of the project in terms of content, schedule and costs is the main task of project reporting. The aim is to prepare current information in a concise form as a basis for decision-making for a specific target group.

Project reporting is a formalized record of the progress of the project and the (intermediate) results of the project. Based on a comparison of targets and actual indicators for individual controlled aspects, reports on the status of the project are generated, which are presented to a specific target group. It usually includes the project manager, the project customer and (if any) the steering committee.

Project Reporting Objectives

Deviations in the course of the project are documented (constant comparison of purpose and fact)
Structured and standardized information on the current status of the project to the relevant target groups (e.g. project customer, project steering committee, project team, ....).
Continuous written documentation of the current progress of the project

Protecting the Project Manager

Depending on the agreement, other target groups may be included in the project reporting process, for which the reports can be specifically adapted. The basis for the functioning of reporting is the planning of adequate reporting structures at the initial stage of the project.

  • To report on a project, you should plan the following:
  • What will be reported?
  • Who reports what to whom?
  • At what intervals are reports compiled?
  • How is the information prepared? (shape, structure, carrier)
  • How are the reports structured?
  • Specific project reporting structures should be agreed with the participants of each project. For the most important reports, it's a good idea to create templates that employees can navigate. It also contributes to clarity throughout the reporting process.

However, templates should not restrict employees, otherwise they will not be used effectively enough or not at all. When creating templates, it is important to make sure that they are as user-friendly as possible to ensure that they are accepted.

Project reports provide insight into the current status of the project.

Project Reporting

Project Reporting Tools
In order to use the reporting tool, certain prerequisites must be met in the company. Most implementations fail because company-specific requirements are not clearly defined. This requires that the methods and techniques (PM procedure), processes and procedures, as well as the organizational structure of project management are clearly defined, established and described.

Key Considerations before Deployment

  • Goals and objectives of project reporting: What should be achieved through project reporting?
  • Content and form (layout) of reporting: What information is needed? Who needs what and in what form?
  • Project Reporting Process and Data Quality: How Is Information Generated? What assumptions are they based on and how reliable are they?
  • Reporting Parties: Who are the recipients? Who are the information providers? Can recipients use the information and do they use it?
  • Project Reporting Standards: What standards and rules are needed for effective reporting in the company? How much uniformity is required for project reporting? An agreed, generally accepted design procedure is a prerequisite for the meaningful use of the tools. What good is the best tool if not everyone adheres to the necessary rules?
  • Using Project Reporting: What happens to the information? Is the information used?
  • Open communication and intensive cooperation: These are the premise and result of reporting. Each project manager should be evaluated by how he manages to achieve trusting cooperation with all project participants.

Critical Success Factors in Tool Selection

User Acceptance
A large amount of continuous text and detailed explanations should be avoided, graphic elements are weakened (the picture says more than 1000 words).

Data Retention

Data should not be entered more than once, which reduces the acceptance of participants and the timeliness of data.


Reports should be generated without much training effort, it is recommended to use a familiar interface; it also has a positive effect on tuition costs.

Complexity of the system

The complexity of the tool should be as low as possible (both technically and organizationally) to avoid mistakes and reduce maintenance costs. Otherwise, it may happen that in the event of a "failure" of the Expert Advisor, the entire system will come to a standstill.

Management support

The need for project reporting should be recognized by senior management, which thus provides the necessary resources. The quality, completeness and timeliness of reports should be required at the highest level.

Regularity and periodicity

Project reports should be prepared regularly at regular intervals. Even if there is supposedly nothing to report, it should be "reported" accordingly. These intervals should be the same for all projects, the gradation depending on the size of the project should be based rather on the content (degree of detail). Deviation of project reporting intervals should occur only in exceptional situations.

Create a project reporting process

  • In order to ensure structured and sustainable project reporting, it is necessary to define and implement a single UM process (at least for all reporting activities).
  • Useful tips and tricks for practice
  • KISS: Keep it small & simple - long reports do not like to write or read.
  • Reports should be simple and straightforward; graphs often help to clarify what is written.
  • The flow of information should go in both directions: the one who reports (= provides information) also wants to receive information himself (for example, about the general state, decisions made, changes ...).
  • Regularity of reporting ensures security and continuity.
  • The meeting plan and reporting are closely linked.
  • Timing: meetings that logically follow each other should be close to each other in time (for example, a meeting of a project client or steering committee shortly after the meeting of project controllers); the energy in the project can also be controlled by deadlines.
  • The frequency/frequency of meetings and reports should be chosen according to the project: for example, in a 4-month project, the intervals of 1 month are too large, while in a 15-month project they are quite appropriate.
  • Especially for projects with long intervals between meetings, it is necessary to develop regulations on how to deal with "ad hoc" solutions.
  • Frequently Asked Questions about Project Reporting (FAQs)

The best project planning is useless without adequate project control. This also includes project reporting, which is often criminally neglected. If everything is done correctly, then the efforts are minimized. Below are a few questions, including answers, that constantly arise in the process of creating reporting structures and generating project reports.

Is a written report on the project really necessary?

YES. Projects are unique projects that are rarely executed one hundred percent according to plan. In the course of each project, you have to make decisions again and again and make small or large adjustments to the course of business. In order to quickly and efficiently find the optimal solution for the further procedure in the project, it is necessary to be able to use as a basis the current information from the project:

  • Where are we now?
  • What have we achieved?
  • How many of our resources have we used?
  • What are the problems?
  • What alternatives do we have at the moment?
  • Only if you know what stage you're at can you determine how best to achieve your goal. The project report ensures traceability of solutions.

As long as things go smoothly, it may not be so important, but as a last resort in crisis situations, it is good to know why certain paths were chosen and certain measures taken. Without written comprehensibility, annoying discussions often arise. As a project manager, it is comforting to know that the progress of the project is clearly documented.

What should the project report contain?

The principle here is: Be taciturn and simple. Long reports don't like to write or read. The report should be simple and clear. The minimum content of the project status report is as follows:

  • What has been done since the last report?
  • How much do we fit into the schedule? Are we on schedule?
  • Where did the problems arise and have you had to make decisions?

Graphic images often help to clarify what is written. A common graphic element for reporting is a traffic light system:

  • "GREEN": everything is in order; no problem
  • "YELLOW": we have a problem, but we can solve it and are already doing it
  • RED: We have a serious deviation from the plan, and it requires quick and serious intervention to get the project back on track.

In principle, everything that is planned should also be reported regularly, i.e. costs, resources, budget, stages, risks, etc. The depth of reporting and the interval should be determined in accordance with the project.

Is it possible to establish project reporting later, in the middle of the project implementation phase?
Ideally, the basis for project reporting is laid at the initial stage of the project. This is usually one of the last tasks in the project planning process. But it's never too late to start. The following requirements must be met:

  • A project order agreed between the project customer and the project manager exists
  • A work breakdown structure has been created and all work packages have been defined.
  • worker package managers are defined as follows
  • Deadlines and milestones are set for the time schedule in the project.
  • Project resources (people, tools, equipment, materials, etc.) are planned based on the description of the work package.
  • A project organization is created; describes roles and tasks.

The flow of information in the project is regulated by the communication plan; the ways of decision-making, reporting, information and escalation have been identified.

Who should receive project reports?

Project reports should be available to all project participants, for example, for download to the project server, so that everyone can inform themselves about the current state of the project. In either case, certain individuals in the project should receive the report directly. These active reporting pathways should flow at least roughly from the project organization.

Reporting is conducted "from the bottom up", as is customary in the organization of the company. The person responsible for the work package reports to the subproject manager/team leader, who reports to the project manager, the project manager to the project customer or steering committee.

The larger and more important the project is for the company, the more levels of the report are driven away. It is also possible to involve stakeholders from the project environment (customers, media, etc.).

How detailed should the project report be?

Depending on the recipient of the report, you should carefully choose the content and level of detail of the project report. As a general rule, the deeper into the project hierarchy, the more detailed the reports should be. The client of the project may want to be informed about each problem. Management is usually not interested in the details of production difficulties and only wants to know whether it will be possible to meet the deadline with the planned budget.

A project report to a client or steering committee best presents only up-to-date information on the project in a concise and concise manner.

In case of doubt: Make a suggestion on the report and clarify directly with the recipients what information is desirable and in what details it should be presented. This will save time and energy, which is better spent on other activities in the project.

Tip: Even if there is nothing to report, it should be reported. If there is "No" in the open items section, it carries more information than if the open items section was simply omitted.

At what intervals should a project report be generated?

The longer the project lasts, the longer the intervals between project reports may be. A project that lasts only six months may require 14 days of status reports, while a two-year project may require a monthly project report. In practice, the progress of the project and especially the speed of the project show how often reporting is required.

If the same thing is reported three times in a row, then either the project has fallen asleep (in any case, urgent action is needed here), or the reporting period is too short. Conversely, the monthly periodicity in the hot phase of a two-year project can also be too long. Then, as a last resort, we should consider shortening reporting intervals and identify how urgent issues can be escalated beyond reporting structures.

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