- What Is a Project Status Report?
- Elements of a Project Status Report
- What Is Reporting Software?
- Manual Project Status Reports vs Reporting Software
- Benefits of Reporting Software
- Must-Have Features of Reporting Software
- How to Make Project Status Reports in ProjectManager.com
- Project Status Report Formatting
- Best Practices for Presenting Project Status Reports
- Other Types of Status Reports
- Are Weekly Project Status Reports a Good Idea?
- Try Our Reporting Software for 30 Days
What Is a Project Status Report?
A project status report is a document that describes the progress of a project within a specific time period and compares it against the project plan. Project managers use status reports to keep stakeholders informed of progress and monitor costs, risks, time and work. Project status reports allow project managers and stakeholders to visualize project data through charts and graphs.
Project status reports are taken repeatedly, throughout every phase of the project’s execution, as a means to maintain your schedule and keep everyone on the same page. The status report for a project will generally include the following:
- The work that’s been completed
- The plan for what will follow
- The summary of the project budget and schedule
- A list of action items
- Any issues and risks, and what’s being done about them
The true value of a project status report lies beyond its use as a communication channel. It also provides a documented history of the project. This gives you historical data, so the next time you’re planning a similar project, you can avoid any missteps or bottlenecks.
Because project status reports cover so many topics, historically, they were time-consuming to create. Fortunately, modern project management software like ProjectManager.com expedites the all-important reporting process. Try out our automated project reports, and simplify your project reporting.
How to Write a Project Status Report
Writing a project status report is an essential project management task. Whether you generate one weekly, monthly or quarterly, the steps are essentially the same. Here’s how to write a project status report:
- Determine the objective
- Target your audience (Clients, team members, sponsors, etc)
- Choose the format and type
- Collect your data
- Structure the report
- Make sure it’s clear
- Edit draft
Because a project status report follows a basic outline, it can be helpful to use a project status report template. However, a project status report template is only a static document. Using project status reporting software integrates with all your project management tools for greater efficiencies.
How Do You Ask for a Project Status Report?
A project status update is usually distributed on a regular schedule, but sometimes people want to see a status report immediately. You can ask for a project status update via email, but you don’t want to come across as rude. To request a project status report, you should ask in a professional manner and place your request through the proper channels.
A friendly reminder is never a bad idea, as it maintains a connection, especially if you can offer something of value in return. If you’re using project management software, then you can always get an instant status report by checking the project dashboard that tracks various metrics.
Whatever you do, a status report should include the elements that we cover in the next section.
Elements of a Project Status Report
The different elements of a project status report organize the different parts into a cohesive whole. The objective of a status report, of course, is to keep stakeholders informed and expose areas of the project that need greater organizational support.
To better communicate these things, be sure to touch on all the following when you compose your project status report.
General Project Info
To start with, you’re going to need to just put down the basics. What is the project name? Who is the project manager? What are the number of resources? All this information is essential, if obvious, to track the paperwork. Don’t assume your stakeholder is familiar with all this information. It’s especially useful for when you’re doing historical research for future projects. Roll it into your status report template, if you have one.
General Status Info
Again, you’re going to want to stamp the report with data that will distinguish it from the deluge of reports that will be streaming into the project paperwork. So, here you want to include what date the report was generated, who the author is and so on.
Milestones are the major phases of your project. They’re a good way to break up the larger project into smaller, more digestible parts. The milestone review lets you note where you are in terms of meeting those milestones (against where you planned to be at this point) in the project’s life cycle.
One of the main purposes of the status report is to compare the project’s progress with the project plan estimates. To do this, include a short summary of the forecasted completion date and costs of the project. This allows project managers to control the project’s execution and measure success. Be sure to include the activities that are facing issues and how those problems might impact the project’s quality, resources, timeline and costs. Explain what you’re planning to do to resolve these issues and what the results will be once you have fixed the problem.
Issues and Risks
Risks are all the internal and external factors that are a threat to your project. They become issues once they affect your project’s budget, timeline or scope. List the issues that have arisen over the course of the project to date. What are they? How are you resolving them? What impact they’ll have on the overall project? Apply the same questions to the risks that you’re aware of. Have they shown up? If they have, what are you doing to get the project back on track?
It’s important to back your report up with hard numbers to prove the statements you’re making. You should have established the metrics for status reporting during the project’s planning phase. It’s impossible to know if your project is succeeding without measuring its effectiveness. These metrics are a way to show you’re on track and evaluate what, if anything, needs attention.
What Is Reporting Software?
Reporting software is used to automatically collect project data, analyze it, and display the results to help project managers make better decisions when managing a project. The software gathers information from different sources within the project and converts them in spreadsheets, graphs and charts.
Depending on the software, reporting data can be filtered to highlight areas of the project that you need to see at that time. Reports can be generated on various aspects of the project’s progress and performance, such as time, cost, workload, etc.
Reports are also used to keep key stakeholders, such as sponsors and clients, updated on how the project is doing, and therefore, should be shareable.
Manual Project Status Reports vs Reporting Software
Reporting has always been a staple of project management. It’s a data-driven discipline. Given that many successful projects have succeeded in the past (without software to help), is it necessary to use a reporting tool?
Yes, of course! A modern project deals in much more data than the projects of the past, and automatic tools can relieve many of the headaches induced by navigating it all manually.
Sure, there are some advantages in manual reporting. It’s less expensive, as there’s no software to license or subscribe to. You also control the process and can make it as simple as you need.
However, there are far more advantages to be found in using an automatic reporting software. It collects your data automatically, and does the calculations for you— and those reports can be archived to use as historical data when planning your next project. Software is also much faster and more accurate than having to do everything manually.
Reporting software can also be cloud-based, which means that it gathers data in real-time. No matter how fast you can manually calculate, you’ll never be able to match the speed and efficiency of a dedicated reporting tool. Microsoft Project is one of the most commonly used project management software, but it has major drawbacks that make ProjectManager.com a better alternative.
Benefits of Reporting Software
Having a quick and easy to use tool that instantly pulls up important project data, organizes and displays it simply and clearly helps you keep stakeholders updated. With all the information at your fingertips, you can also make better decisions.
Not all reporting software is the same. To get more bang for your buck, make sure that whatever tool you choose has the following features:
- Converts complicated data into useful reports
- Filters to show only what information you want
- Allows you to create reports on specific time periods
- Share reports and keep stakeholders updated
- Update instantly for greater accuracy
- Monitor actual progress against your plan
- Report on program or portfolio of projects
Must-Have Features of Reporting Software
Project status reports are just one of many reports that are offered by reporting software, but you’ll also want to make sure the product you choose has the following features as well.
Get Instant Status Reports
As important as reporting software is, you also need to regularly check on the progress of your project as it occurs. A dashboard will provide that high-level view, collecting data and displaying it in graphs and charts to show a variety of project metrics.
See the Most Current Info
Dashboards and reports capture the project at a particular time, and like a snapshot, capture a past point in time. However, if you’re working with an online reporting tool, the data it collects is displayed in real-time—and the decisions you make will be more informed.
Generate Reports on Every Aspect
A status report is a key gauge of how your project is performing, but it’s only one perspective. For the full picture, you need to measure progress and more for many angles. Seek out reporting software that also measures task progress, workload, timesheets and more.
Easy Export with Stakeholders
Creating reports is only the beginning. You need to share them with stakeholders, who need to have a broad strokes picture of where the project currently is. During presentations, you want to be able to easily print out a copy or export a PDF to email them.
Fast and Easy Reports
Making reports shouldn’t be time-consuming. It often means complex equations to figure out progress, variance, workload, etc. The best reporting software automates these functions, so you don’t need a math degree or even a calculator to manage your project.
Gain Details for Actionable Insights
Dashboards are great for high-level views of the project, but reports must provide a deeper dive into that data in order for managers to make the critical decisions to steer the project towards a successful end. You want reports that are in depth and cover the entire project.
How to Make Project Status Reports in ProjectManager.com
Reporting software is a tool to monitor and track project metrics in real time and then collect that data in a report that is easily shared with project members. ProjectManager.com is an award-winning tool that organizes projects and teams by monitoring and reporting on progress and performance. Click here to start a free 30-day trial.
Using the reporting feature of ProjectManager.com allows you to see the status of project milestones and summary tasks, if you filter the report to include them. Reports can be previewed before being exported to a PDF, Excel, CSV or printed. Every report can be customized by selecting the data and columns you want to include.
Here are all the reports you can create once you have the software.
Project Status Report
As mentioned above, the project status gives an overview of where your project currently is, and lets you determine if the project is on time and under budget. It shows the tasks that are due on the week it has been generated, and which are overdue.
Here’s a quick rundown of the options when generating a status report in ProjectManager.com.
Get the key elements to your project condensed in short to capture the highpoints in your schedule, budget and costs for stakeholders. You can provide project updates at any time for your team, clients and sponsors.
See which tasks are overdue and when their deadline is to never lose track of your progress and stay on schedule. ProjectManager.com allows you to assign activities to your team members and communicate with them in real time.
Milestones & Summary Tasks
Note which milestones have been completed to better track the project’s progress. View where you are in terms of completing summary tasks or subtasks on your schedule.
Planned Vs. Actual
Know your project variance by tracking the actual progress on the status report, which is compared to where you planned to be at that point in your schedule.
Here’s what a generated status report looks like with our software:
Portfolio Status Report
A portfolio is a collection of projects that one manages. They must work together in alignment with the overall strategy of the organization.
See the health of your full portfolio, and if they’re meeting their schedules and budgets. Get lists of your project managers, team and tasks to better determine your portfolio’s overall health.
Project Plan Report
The project plan is the map that guides your activity when managing a project. This report lets you know whether that plan is being met by your actual progress.
Keep your project on track, within budget and know how far you are from completion. Get an overview of your schedule and a list of all the tasks and when they should be done.
Different to the previous reports, which are static documents that are exported as a snapshot of a project, a dashboard can serve as a contemporaneous look into the project.
Get real-time status reports using our project dashboard. Every facet found in a status report is automatically updated across the six metrics of the dashboard for a high-view of your project’s performance.
Much like the project dashboard, the portfolio dashboard serves as a real-time view, except for a collection of projects rather than a single one.
Set up a portfolio dashboard by creating a folder in the overview projects section. Add projects you want to measure and your portfolio dashboard will track their costs, workload and more.
Project Status Report Formatting
To recap, objectives of status reports are to:
- Help the project management team keep track of costs, tasks and timelines
- Compare the budget and time forecasts with the actual costs and task duration
- Improve communications across the organization
- Simplify the communication process
- Keep stakeholders informed
- Deliver key messages to the intended target audience
- Improve organizational support for your projects or your team
If you’re reporting to stakeholders, you don’t want to bog them down in details they’re uninterested in. Keep your presentation light and to the point. Their time, like yours, is limited. Respect that. If they want to know more about a specific aspect of the project, then you can go in for the deeper dive.
How to Format Your Project Status Report
There are many ways to format your status report. You can put yours together in any number of ways. Naturally, depending on the type of report and who it’s for, will set you on a specific course. But there is usually a template to follow regardless of the path you choose to follow.
Like any report, you start with an introduction. Give a short overview of what is to follow. It would make more sense to compose this section last, so you can make an accurate summary of the coming content.
You next will want to list the accomplishments. Use hard facts, numbers and details, and how they reflect your progress to achieve the overall goals and objectives of the project. Speaking of goals, you’ll want to state them, too, especially the goal of the report.
Don’t neglect problems. Note the bottlenecks and roadblocks that are preventing you from being when you planned to be at this point in the project. Set expectations by detailing risks and issues that could grow into problems that make it harder to reach your target. Also, write out how you plan to address and resolve these issues as they arise and what resources will be needed.
Best Practices for Presenting Project Status Reports
Whether you’re presenting your weekly status report in a meeting, or sending a weekly email update, it’s a good idea to know the best practices when reporting on a project’s progress before jumping into a presentation of your report.
Project status reports are only a single facet in your communication plan. Don’t rely on it fully to communicate everything, but use it to deliver the right data to the right party at the right time.
Know Your Audience
Project status reports are vehicles for communication, but if you’re unsure of the destination, then you’re not going to deliver the goods. Stakeholders such as clients and sponsors want to know the big picture, while team members will be more interested in specifics.
Use the same format, distribution cycle and method. Don’t mix things up. That only disrupts the effectiveness of the communication aspect of the report.
When planning for the project, figure out how you’re going to measure its progress, and then stick to this method as you report on the project throughout its life cycle.
You want the report to be effective, so don’t obscure it with unnecessary details. Stay to the point, and just report on what needs reporting on.
Your audience doesn’t want opinions or unsubstantiated facts. Do the due diligence, and make sure that you’re giving only what your audience wants.
Like consistency, keeping standards of process and a template for reporting makes sure your report is clear.
There are project management tools that incorporate these best practices, streamlining the reporting process thanks to dashboards and automated reporting features.
Other Types of Status Reports
Status reports are just one of the many reports project managers use to keep updated on the progress of their projects. Status is more general, while others focus on specific aspects of the project. Some of the more common status reporting alternatives follow.
Every project is made up of tasks, often lots of them. You need a report to keep track of them all.
Get all your project tasks collected in one place. Filter the report to show the status of each task to see if there are any roadblocks or bottlenecks holding up progress. You need to take care of issues before they affect your project’s timeline.
Teams log their hours on timesheets to submit to managers for payroll. Timesheets are also another way to track progress on a project by monitoring the hours logged on tasks.
View the timesheet of selected team members and know the hours they worked over a range of time using online project management software.
Keeping track of when your team can work, when they have paid time off or there’s a holiday is critical to scheduling and workload management.
Know instantly who has too much work on your team and if they’re available to work. Team members are listed in this report with utilization rates. This data helps you reallocate tasks.
The workload is the amount of tasks your team has been assigned. Keeping their workload balanced, so no one has too much on their plate, is how you increase productivity and morale.
See your entire team with the amount of tasks they’ve been assigned. Know if someone has too many or too few tasks and balance their workload to get more done and not burn people out.
The variance is the difference between what you planned for the project and where you actually are in its execution. This is how you know if your project’s on track or not.
Set the baseline on the Gantt chart tool when planning and get data on your current schedule. Then, compare it against where you planned to be at this point in the schedule.
Are Weekly Project Status Reports a Good Idea?
The importance of a project status report should be clear, but how often should you generate them? In general, status reports are weekly; but it’s not unheard of to create daily or even monthly reports, which can be the best choice for businesses in certain industries. How do you know which is right for you?
A daily status report is geared towards short-term goals. It’s a way to do a postmortem on the day’s work and learn lessons from what went wrong and what went right. It also will speak to the accomplishments from the day before, and what is on deck for the next day.
A weekly status report is more extended in that they cover the week’s worth of work, including what has been accomplished and what is left to do. They share similar content with the daily report, such as challenges and lessons learned, only over a longer timeframe.
A monthly status report is really only useful for projects with an extremely long duration. Otherwise, you’ll want to get more regular data. However, when the project is stretched over a great period of time, then monthly (or even quarterly) status reports are advisable. The contents tend to be the same.
Try Our Reporting Software for 30 Days
ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based software with one-click reporting that seamlessly integrates with planning, scheduling and tracking features. Get real-time data that can be filtered and shared across eight different project reports. With us, you can use one software for all your project management needs.
Companies such as the Bank of America, and organizations such as NASA and the US Postal Service, have used us to manage big and small projects. Over 10,000 teams worldwide get more control over their work and become more productive using our software.
If you want to simplify the reporting process, and are looking for a tool that with online Gantt charts, kanban boards to visualize workflow and a dashboard for a high-level view of project metrics, then try our tool free with this 30-day trial.
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