Status reports in project management are great ways to provide to all project stakeholders good visibility over progress and performance. Furthermore, the reports can assure buy-in from the stakeholders if they are structured enough to be fast and easy to read.
Usually there are two main categories of project stakeholders that need to informed via status reports: internal top management and customer representatives.
A good practice would be for the customer stakeholders to be informed about the project progress on a weekly and monthly basis while for the internal top management is sufficient to receive a monthly report, but only in case no extraordinary events happen.
Weekly Status Reports
I see the weekly reports suitable for a close group of stakeholders, mostly for the people which are closely involved in the project development. The topics to be shared in a weekly report are the following:
- Weekly Progress
- Encountered Issues or Delays
- Topics to be addressed with Priority
Monthly Status Reports
As previously mentioned, the monthly status reports will be sent to two stakeholder types. However, the content will not be the same. The customer will receive an official project status while the internal reports will address other topics like change management or customer relationship status.
Customer Monthly Project Status Report
Below there is the structure of the monthly report for the customer:
- Project Name
- Project KPIs
- Project Timeline and Milestones
- Identified Risks
Internal Monthly Project Status Report
The internal monthly report needs to be quite brief but informative enough to provide a good picture over the project’s progress. As for the format, try to keep all the info in the body of the email. If you put into an attachment, that would mean some additional extra clicks for your manager to do.
One smart way to provide a super-fast status would be with colors. Just state some PM areas and color them according to level of urgency. Please see below an example:
In this table green means “All good”, yellow means “Ok for the moment but things can slip away” and red means “Immediate attention required!”.
In addition to the colored table, you would need to provide as well some additional info about the project, like:
- Project Name.
- Project brief KPIs.
- Timeline and Milestones
- Project Status – High-level information.
- Project Team
- Customer Relationship
- Identified Risks.
At the end, I would like to share with you some best practices on how to write good status reports:
- Be honest!. Honesty is super important for these reports. Even if you are not sharing good news, it’s best to be honest about the status because sooner or later the truth will come out and when it does, you will be the only one blamed for not being honest.
- Don’t provide breaking news in status reports. If the project gets delayed with 1 month, don’t inform everyone for the first time in the status report about this. Instead, address this issue early on a separate email thread. The status report should only brief the stakeholders about past events.
- Keep it short. Be brief about the information you are sharing. It if is too long, almost nobody will read it.
I hope you find useful these tips.