Effective project status reporting is to communicate situation and progress to all key stakeholders. It is a simple way to give out key project messages and information.
Delivering project messages and information is not only via a project report – it must be part of a concerted effort to communicate with stakeholders and positively engage them with the project. However, project reporting is a very effective tool for giving a consistent set of messages and accurate project progress to everyone at the same time.
There are various guides to project reporting such as those advocated by PMI and PRINCE2. There are also other similar guides to project reporting such as CDC Unified Process Practices Guide: Project Status Reporting and the CDC notes: “Objectives of effective project status reporting include:
- Improve communication of information within the project and across the organization
- Simplify the process of gathering and disseminating project information
- Ensure the stakeholders receive the necessary information
- Communicate key messages about project progress
- Improve organizational support for the project”
Project Status and Project Progress
The essence of a project report is to communicate key project status and project progress. An effective project report format is one that ensures the key content is gathered and delivered – regularly, clearly and concisely. Key content [perhaps structured in tables and succinct bullet points] includes:
- Summary of project status including whether it is on-track, slipping behind or ahead of schedule
- Summary of key risks and issues and any associated action plan
- Key project metrics such as progress versus original schedule and cost versus budget
- Work just finished, since last report
- Work that is still in progress and needs to be finished in this report period
- Work that will continue beyond this report period
- Work about to be started
Various templates are available for project reports – here is one example.
Project Reporting for Stakeholders
The actual content of the project reporting for stakeholders must be targeted appropriately and at the right level of detail including any sensitivity of some of the information, which means some report content should not be available to everyone. This needs to be determined by the project to ensure that the right information is delivered to the right people. Potential stakeholders include:
- Senior Management
- Project Board – key stakeholders identified as the steering team, usually with a vested interest
- Project Team – including potentially matrix line managers who supply the project resource
- Managers and business units actively participating in the project
- Business units impacted by the project but not actively participating
Frequency and Type of Project Reporting
In addition to identifying the stakeholders it is important to define the frequency and type of communication and the most effective way is to combine written content [document, email or presentation] with verbal delivery [telephone conference or if circumstances permit in person]. The power of the verbal delivery is to both reinforce the written communication and offer an opportunity for questions and answers or to clarify any key points.
Project reporting is a key component of stakeholder management and includes:
- Standard report format, using a template – for consistency of presentation, messages and information
- Targeted stakeholders for project report, with an identified frequency and type of communication
Time should be taken to do this properly and consequently it should be included within the tasks of project planning. The importance of frequent, clear and concise communication with stakeholders cannot be over-emphasised and because project reporting is an important component of that it is consequently an important component of project risk management.