What Is a Project Status Report?
A project status report is a project management document that captures the current status of a project in terms of project health and project progress. It’s a project reporting tool to relate necessary information to project stakeholders such as clients, sponsors, and/or team members.
Use this project status report template to streamline your status reports, improve communication with key stakeholders, and deliver your project update 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 project status reporting capabilities.
Contents of a Project Status Report
There are many project status report templates available online, and their content might vary. However your project status report should cover these key areas.
1. Project Information
Here you’ll include general information about your project.
- Project details: Project name, report date, project manager, sponsors and stakeholders
- Reporting period: Define whether it’s a monthly or weekly project status report
2. Project Status Summary
In this section, you’ll inform project stakeholders and team members about project progress.
- Key Accomplishments: A space to highlight the completion of milestones, deliverables and action items.
- Completed work: Action items that have been completed
- Planned work: Tasks that are planned in the project scope.
- Project Milestones: A project milestone can be completion of a work package, deliverable or a project phase.
- Project Deliverables: The project deliverables are the outcome of the tasks that are in your project scope, they’re necessary for the execution of the project plan.
- Action items: Tasks that need to be completed to produce deliverables and complete the project.
3. Project Health
Here you’ll explain to project stakeholders and team members the current state of the project and how it compares to the project plan. To do so, you’ll need to talk about the status of your project’s budget, schedule, quality and scope.
- Project Budget Overview
- Project Schedule Overview
- Quality Overview
- Scope Overview
4. Risk Management Overview
- Project Risks & Issues
5. Conclusions / Recommendations
Include here any risk management, resource management, or project scheduling concerns or recommendations.
Benefits of Project Status Reporting
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 project stakeholders or team members. They need information, and a project status report is the best way to deliver a project update.
A status report is a great means to convey where the project’s at in terms of project health, risks and progress. And you want to have a mechanism in place that can respond in time to stakeholders or sponsors, who want project updates on a regular basis.
Your project status reporting 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.
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 status reporting template is that it gets much of the project reporting busy work done and out of your way. Even better is when you’re working with a project management software like ProjectManager, which gives you the reporting tools to automate much of the status reporting process. That frees you and your project team up for more important tasks.
Our project management software gives project managers the ability to create a status report with one click. You can customize and filter the weekly status report to capture only the information that you need or that you have to disseminate to stakeholders or team members.
If you’re working on project portfolio management, a status report is also crucial. With it, you have access to all the projects and can generate reports on each individual’s project 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 plan. 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 project plan and whether that actual progress is aligned with the project schedule. Therefore, effective project status reporting is essential to the success of any project.
Know Your Target Audience
The first best practice is making sure that the status report is being targeted. That is, know your audience, which in this case is made up by project stakeholders and team members. 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 project status report template can go a long way to attracting interest from your stakeholders. That’s when a status update template or a project management tool can help you create a project status report that attracts the attention of your project stakeholders and project team members.
When Should a Status Report Be Delivered?
The status of your project is constantly changing. Teams are working on tasks and moving forward, reaching milestones and completing deliverables. Therefore, a status update could be generated every hour. Of course, that project reporting schedule 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 over the course of your project timeline. 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 to 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 too many action items, 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, the more you should deliver status reports on a weekly basis to capture any action items, issues, risks, milestones and deliverables.
Remember, the status report is a tool to give stakeholders and users a project update. It should be short, accurate and timely in order to deliver that picture of the project’s health and progress 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 project status reporting information will get lost in the shuffle.
How to Use ProjectManager’s Status Report Template
It’s one thing to know that you need it, but another to learn how to use an Excel project status report template. 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 project management 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 project stakeholders and sponsors. It’s a great opportunity to tell them what you need and when.
What Action Items Need Immediate Attention?
Call out any action items that need immediate attention. This is a way to remember what needs remembering and have it communicated to those who need to know. Those action items should always be assigned to someone in the project team.
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 point when a project phase or work package has been completed. It’s a smart way to note project progress 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 which could affect your project’s health. 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. You should have a risk management plan and a risk response plan in place to mitigate any risks that might affect your project.
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 risk management 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 Project Budget?
Address the project 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’s health. No matter who your target audience is, you want to have them fully engaged.
Other Project Management Templates to Help With Project 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 project status report template should not be the sole tool in your project management toolbox, though. We have dozens of free project management templates and reporting tools to help you better manage your project, the following are a few that assist in project reporting.
A project dashboard tracks several 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 project 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 project status reporting, there are a ton of other free Excel templates, blog posts and videos on ProjectManager.com. Here is 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 try ProjectManager and test the great reporting tools and project management software features we offer. Try our award-winning project management software for free today.