6 Steps to Impactful Status Reporting

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The status report you send regularly to your stakeholder is a vital communication tool.  Leadership coach Susanne Madsen explains how to improve your reports for more impact. Plus, get your free Status Report template to put these new ideas into action.

Here’s a copy of the whiteboard for your reference!

what should be in a status report

In Review: 6 Steps to Impactful Status Reporting

Susanne started by discounting the belief that a status report is just pushing paper around. Rather, it can be a powerful communication tool and a way to truly make an impact on key stakeholders and your organization as a whole.

She laid out a path to make the most impact when you file your status report by following these six steps.

  1. Highlights – Add the key project highlights in the Project Information section. 
  2. Escalation – Be sure to call out any items that need immediate attention. 
  3. Milestones – Keep it high level. Relay milestones achieved, so the stakeholders can witness the progress being made simply.
  4. Risks/Issues – List key risks and issues that are are being documented. It’s important that you convey these, so stakeholders know that you’re aware of potential impacts. 
  5. Budget – Address the budget spent and overall percentage spent, to give stakeholders an opportunity to adjust as needed. 
  6. Visual Element – Every business leader loves a simple chart to add visuals to the data. Real-time dashboards enable stakeholders to know that your data is up-to-date.

You’re going to want and tailor the status report to your audience’s needs and make that data as engaging as possible, ideally by telling a compelling story rather than relaying a series of figures. Remember, a status report is but one of many reports you generate in a project. Be sure to apply the right technique to insure the best results.

Download Susanne’s Status Report template here:

Free Status Report Template

Pro-Tip: When it comes to business critical issues, especially if it’s bad news, it’s best not to use the status report as the means to communicate this information, but rather address it in person.

Thanks for watching!

Transcript:

Hi, I’m Susanne Madsen. Welcome to this whiteboard session on Impactful Status Reporting. That’s a report you send to your stakeholders every week or every two weeks.

My experience tells me that many project managers treat this as a bit of a tick boxing exercise. They write about what they did in the last period and what they are going to do in the next period and they just quickly want to get it over and done with.

But that’s a bit of a missed opportunity. Behind me here, I’ve drawn up an example of an impactful status report. Let’s look at it.

At the top, we’ve got some standard fields such as who is the project manager and the sponsor and the date and the rag, red-amber-green status. And then I’ve got some space here for progress and achievements.

It’s a bit of an executive summary. And then here on the right, items for escalation. You see, you have a senior audience. There may be senior executives reading your report. So why not take the opportunity to tell them what you’re waiting for from them?

The majority of the report here is allocated to milestones. Executives want to know if your project is on track. There is no better way of showing that than highlighting the milestones, the date, red-amber-green status and who the owner is. If a milestone is not on track, we want to know who to go to for an answer. And then any comments you may have.

And at the bottom here, we have the top five risks and issues. Again, your stakeholders want to know what’s really going on on the project. What are the real risks and issues of the project?

So raise them here, but always tell them what action you are taking to address these risks and issues. And again, who the owner is. Now a word of caution: Never raise a new risk or issue in this report for the first time.

No one likes bad surprises when they open up that report. Always call a stakeholder first or see them face to face and that way, you can explain what’s really going on.

Now it may also be that your stakeholders would like to see a visual element, like a bar chart or graphs. So don’t take my word for it. Ask them what they would really like to see. Tailor your report to their needs.

At the bottom here, you can include some information about the budget. Now it may be that you’re not able to create the kind of report that you would ideally like. It may be that your report is pre-generated from your system. If that’s the case, make the data come alive by telling a compelling story.

Thank you for watching. Please visit us again at ProjectManager.com.

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