Project Management: What makes a Good Project Status Report?

February 26, 2015
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project status report

A project status report is a communication tool that updates all project stakeholders about the progress on the project. It is necessary for the report to be timely and accurate so that everyone has a true picture of the project. The status report should be short and sweet and at the same time give a big picture view of the project. If it has too much data, important updates can get lost. If there is too much text, people will lose interest. It should be such that important information is presented in a concise and clear manner and everyone is able to get a common understanding of the overall project status. A good project status report should take care of the following:

  • The report should be based on a standard template and the same template should be used every time the report is sent

  • The report should be short and focus on the most important aspects. Some of the data that should typically be present in a report are Date, Status, Project Measures, Milestones, Ongoing Tasks and Issues & Risks

  • Date of the report is important as it is important to know at what point in time the status of the project is as reported

  • Overall status of the project indicated in objective terms (for example the traffic lights status can be used – Green colour should be used when the project is going well. Amber colour should be used when the project is going fine but there are a few issues. Red indicates that the project is in trouble or there are many risks in the project

  • Completion status of the project in percentage terms should be mentioned. The status in percentage terms should be broken down into the various phases. For example, 100% of the design tasks are complete. 40% of development tasks are complete and 20% of testing tasks are done

  • Key project measurement statistics like Schedule Variance, Cost Variance or any other measure used in the project should be highlighted.

  • The status report should have a list of tasks completed this week, tasks to begin next week and the start date and deadline for the same. It should mention the tasks that will be completed next week

  • If there have been any highlights like a key milestone achieved or if a team member did something out of the ordinary, it should be mentioned in the report. It is a good way to keep the team motivated and let them know that their contribution is acknowledged and seen by senior management

  • It should have a brief summary on bugs status with information like number of new bugs raised, bugs reopened and bugs closed this week. Blocking bugs, highly critical bugs should be highlighted. A link to the bugs reporting tool can be given here for a detailed bugs report

  • Key issues and risks identified should be highlighted with a status on them. The persons working on them should be named in the report. If there are too many risks and issues, they should be documented separately and a link to the same should be provided

  • There could be some key action items or discussion points that need to be taken up in the reporting meeting. These should be listed here so that people can discuss them and reach to a conclusion collectively

  • If there are change requests, they should be listed too. It will give an idea of changes implemented and whether money has been earned for the same or not.

The project report should be about 1-2 slides long so that it attracts the attention of people and at the same time provides the relevant information about the project. The person reading the report should be able to get the project status from the report. It is important that the report is updated on regular intervals as defined in the Initiation phase. It should be saved in a particular location in the project repository and the team should know where it can be accessed. Generally status reports should be generated weekly or once in 2 weeks. Reports serve as a historical record if required to go back in time to get some information or resolve any issue. A report should inform stakeholders the project progress and status so that they can take informed decisions. Let us know what are the key elements of the project status report in your project.


About the Author

Vidya Kumar is a management graduate with 14 years of experience in the IT industry managing complex Software Projects across various industry verticals. She has around 6 years experience in content development. She has co-authored two eBooks and writes regularly on personal finance, IT, travel and other business topics.

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