How to Write a Project Report
In addition to assigning tasks and hosting meetings, project managers are often tasked with producing various project reports. These high-level overviews and summaries of critical data are delivered to project stakeholders and leadership to communicate different aspects of project progress. There are many types of project reports that track details and data for everything from project status and health, to risk and time tracking.
What Is a Project Report?
Project reports offer a high-level overview of the goings-on in a project in a simple and easy-to-digest format. There are many project management tools that offer reporting options, though many project reports are delivered in a written or presentation format.
Why Are Project Reports Important?
Project reports simply keep project stakeholders up-to-date on project status. They also help project team members track and address issues, including what is causing them and how to resolve them. Most importantly, project reporting helps trigger the planning of next steps by providing a full-circle view of where things are at a given time.
Examples of Project Reports
Project status report: The project status report is a very common and important report that gives a general update on how a project is moving along towards its goals. This report hits on general updates, emerging issues, and milestones.
Time tracking report: A project time tracking report pulls data from tracked time or time manually entered via desktop or an app interface for team members’ time spent working on a project. This type of report gives you immediate and actionable insight into where time is being spent at every stage of a project, so you can make adjustments on capacity and make improvements. Many reports provide visuals with instant information and metrics to help your organization stay on top of budgets and cost.
Project dashboard report: The project dashboard report is a great visual summary for anyone requesting an overall project update. This report often lists visual charts showing task group percent complete, a project health indicator, risk analysis, and links to important project file locations and even other project reports. Some project dashboard software tools allow you to share the dashboard in email and on screen during status meetings. The project dashboard report can be customizable and flexible to include exactly what you want to share in an easy way.
Project deliverables report: The project deliverables report is a nice summary of all project deliverables in order of priority. This report includes the health of the deliverable, the percent complete, and the start and end date of each deliverable. The list of deliverables can be displayed in a scrolling grid list view, Gantt view, or calendar view.
Tips for Creating Useful Project Reports
- Pinpoint the purpose: Understand the purpose of the project report and what you are being asked to convey.
- Know the audience: Who are you creating the report for, and what they want to know about the project?
- Choose a report format: Choose whether it will be a presentation, a link to a file, or a printed document.
- Draft the report: Create a rough draft of what you are preparing and review it carefully. Make sure you are including all of the details you want to share with the team, and reach out to team leads to fill in any gaps before finalizing.
- Consider layout: Give the report a good structure and effective layout. Make it easy to spot the most important information first at a scan, and list other details as secondary.
- Highlight key content: If a report is more than a few pages in length, create a table of contents and subheadings for easy review. Readers should be able to quickly find key information.
- Proofread: Use simple and easy-to-read language that is free of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors.
Creating useful project reports takes time to master. View each report as a learning experience, until you reach a format and level of detail that provides stakeholders with what they need to make the right decisions. Request feedback from colleagues and incorporate the best advice into your reports, while eliminating details that do not provide much value.