Use this project status report template to streamline your status reports, improve communication with stakeholders, and deliver your presentations with greater impact. There’s so much more a status report can do, and with this free Excel template you can begin to take full advantage of its capabilities.
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Why You Need a Project Status Report Template
You already know that a status report is a necessary task when running a project. If you don’t know, you’ll find out soon enough from your stakeholder or team members. They need information, and this is the best way to deliver it.
A status report is an essential document in project management. It’s a communicative tool to relate necessary information to clients, sponsors, and/or team members. The current state of the project is captured in these documents. It’s a great means to convey where the project’s at. And you want to have a mechanism in place that can respond in time to stakeholders or sponsors, who inevitably want things yesterday.
That schedule can be as leisurely as monthly or as intense as daily, though most likely you’ll be generating weekly status reports. Regardless of the frequency, you need a system in place that makes status reporting simple without taking up too much time.
One of the great things about having a template for status reporting is that it gets much of the busy work done and out of your way. Even better is when you’re working with ProjectManager.com, which gives you the tools to automate much of the process. That frees you up for more important tasks.
Our project management software gives you the ability to create a status report with one click. You can customize and filter the report to capture only that information that you need or that you have to disseminate to stakeholders or team members. If you’re working on a portfolio, a status report is also crucial. With it you have access to all the projects, and can generate reports on each individual’s health and performance. This can be done as an overview, or if you’re interested in more granular data, you can drill down as deep as you need.
Our free Excel status report template lets you focus on pertinent information, offer clarity, collect a record of events and even address the bigger picture of the project. But, when you bring these reports online through collaborative project management tools, it’s easier to create and share.
Status Report Template Best Practices
The importance of a project status report cannot be overstated. They are missives from the frontlines of your project that keep the stakeholders informed on its progress. They help project managers see exactly where they are in the context of the larger picture and whether that actual progress is aligned with the planned one. Therefore, effective status reporting is essential to the success of any project.
Know Your Target
The first best practice is making sure that the status report is being targeted. That is, know your audience. When you write anything, you should know who the intended reader is. This is the best way to make an impact. Therefore, whether our status report template is for the stakeholder, client or some other upper management executive, keep the language understandable and focus on what they’re interested in learning.
Even how you format your status report is important. Keep the content targeted and to a minimum, but structured to include an overview of your milestones, risks, issues, costs, etc. Whatever formatting you choose, keep it consistent. This makes it easier for stakeholders to read because they’re familiar with the report and know where everything is.
While you want to be brief, you don’t want to neglect including the meat of the status report, such as key successes and achievements that were reached over the last period. It not only communicates the accomplishments that have been already met, but it helps stakeholders review the progress of the team over the long haul of the project.
It might seem insignificant, but the visual presentation of a status report can go a long way to attracting interest from your stakeholders. This doesn’t mean you have to have an art school degree, but do keep in mind the use of fonts and how you design the page. A solid block of dense type is not going to help stakeholders read the important information hidden within it.
When Should a Status Report Be Delivered?
The status of your project is constantly changing. Teams are working on tasks and moving forward completing deliverables. Therefore, a status report could be generated every hour. Of course, that would be absurd. Status reports are communication tools and overloading that channel with too much data would bury the message and defeat its purpose.
That then begs the question, how often should you be sending out status reports? Stakeholders need to know what’s going on. If there are issues, such as running behind schedule or over budget, then you’ll want to directly speak with the stakeholders before adding such information into your status report. Never surprise them by delivering bad news in the status report without warning.
However, that doesn’t address the frequency issue. The regularity of your status reports depends on the activity of your project. If you’re in a slow-moving project without major changes, then a bi-monthly status report will do. Any more frequent than that and you’ll have little to report on. The more active your project, then you should deliver status reports on a weekly basis to capture any issues, risks, milestones reached, actual versus planned progress, etc.
Remember, the status report is a tool to help stakeholders and users understand the project. It should be short, accurate and timely in order to deliver that picture of the project at a certain time and place. You want to address what’s happening now and what’s upcoming to keep everyone on the same page. Inundate them and that valuable information will get lost in the shuffle.
How to Use ProjectManager.com’s Status Report Template
It’s one thing to know that you need it, but another to learn how to use a status report. Thankfully, it’s a fairly intuitive process. You’ll be able to pick it up in no time. Here’s how you can create a status report with the downloaded template.
Input Key Project Highlights
Add the key project highlights in the project information section. You’ll add the sponsor and date. Who is the project manager? You’ll have some space to add progress and achievements, as well. Think of it as an executive summary, especially if you’re presenting this information to stakeholders and sponsors. It’s a great opportunity to tell them what you need and when.
What Needs Immediate Attention?
Call out any items that need immediate attention. This is a way to remember what needs remembering, and have it communicated to those who need to know.
Note Project Milestones
Note milestones. This is where the heavy lifting is. The milestone is larger than a task but smaller than the project. Think of it as the points when a phase of work has been completed. It’s a smart way to note the progress of your project and whether it’s on schedule or not. It can also show executives that you’re on track. You can color-code this red and green, depending on whether you’re on- or off-schedule. It’s also where you can note who is responsible and add comments.
List Key Risks and Issues
List key risks and issues. The template has room for five of them, and while most projects probably have more than that, this is where you want to write out the top-five. Prioritize, or you’re going to get bogged down. This is also a good way for stakeholders to know what’s going on with the project. They can see the real risks and issues, as determined by you. But follow that up with the actions you’re going to take in order to avoid or deal with them. Don’t use this as a forum to bring up bad news. Surprises are bad. Face to face is best when first identifying the risk or issue with your stakeholder.
What’s the Budget?
Address the budget spent and the overall percentage spent. This doesn’t have to be a super-detailed line by line item account, but it’s a great place to note the overall expenditure and where the project is in terms of budget: behind, ahead or on target. A good rule of thumb is to think of this status template as the outline of a compelling story you’re telling about the project. No matter who your target audience is, you want to have them fully engaged.
Other Templates to Help With Status Reporting
Knowing the status of your project and being able to communicate that information is how you stay on schedule and provide transparency to your stakeholders. This status report template should not be the sole tool in your project management toolbox, though. We have dozens of free templates to help you better manage your project, the following are a few that assist in project reporting.
A dashboard tracks several project metrics to provide a high-level view of your project’s progress and performance. It’s sort of like a status report you can access at any time. This project dashboard template shows you tasks, workload, task lengths and costs. For a real-time dashboard that automatically calculates this data and displays it for you, check out our tool.
A status report is a communication tool, but it’s not the only one in your arsenal. No matter how you deliver information to your stakeholders, you need a plan to define objectives, identify who you’re targeting and what channels to use to reach them. This is where the communication plan template comes in handy. Use this to make sure your project documentation, messages and reports are effective.
One of the aspects of your project captured in a status report is change, caused by stakeholder requests or other factors that have impacted your schedule or budget. A change log template is a tool to identify and track those changes from the moment you know of them to when they’re resolved. You can set a team member to own that task and keep stakeholders updated on its progress, all in one place.
If you’re curious about status reporting, there’s a ton of blog post and videos on ProjectManager.com. Here are a sample of some of the most relevant and recent posts that address the topic of status reporting.
If you enjoy these stories and have found that our free Microsoft Office templates are helpful, then you might want to visit ProjectManager.com and look over the great software features we offer. There’s lots of other free Excel templates, and you can even take a free 30-day trial run of ProjectManager.com, our award-winning project management software that has repeatedly won best project management app in the rating website GetApp.
(This post was updated September 2020)