Ultimate Guide to Project Status Reports 2021

Ultimate Guide to Project Status ReportsThe project status report is one type of project reporting that provides information about the progress of the project. It is a regular and formalized report on project progress against the project plan, so project managers create the report after the project plan is in place. Project managers send a status report at regular intervals to stakeholders to effectively and efficiently communicate project status. They send various reports throughout the project lifecycle, and project status reporting occurs at the monitoring and controlling phase.

Table of contents

Why write a project status report?

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When project managers send a status report, they inform project stakeholders in a timely manner of critical aspects of project health such as schedule, cost, scope, resources, and issues. Because of this, management is able to take action promptly to address issues and risks. A project status report also provides a documented history of the project, allowing teams to review and learn from its successes and difficulties. Other purposes and objectives are:

  • Creating a simplified and uniform procedure for communicating project development and important messages about project progress
  • Improving the communication of information within the project team and across the organization to improve organizational support for the project
  • Documenting reasons for adjustment and changes
  • Monitoring fund utilization
  • Providing stakeholders a basis for decision-making and addressing problems
  • Keeping track of the team’s performance and individual contribution

Read also: Team Management Software and Tools for Projects

Regularity and frequency of a project status report

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Project sponsors, stakeholders, and the project team agree on the frequency of status reporting. Project managers usually give weekly status reports because a week is enough period or duration for significant progress to happen. Status reporting is a roll-up process where individual team members report status to team leads. Team leads report a rolled-up team status to the project manager, and the project manager reports a rolled-up a departmental status into a project status report to senior management. However, projects vary in size, type, complexity, risk, and expectations from stakeholders.

  • Weekly status report: documents in detail the progress that occurred during the week
  • Monthly status report:  documents in high-level view the progress and developments that happened within a month, including the status of the budget, milestones achieved, and roadblocks encountered
  • Quarterly status report: summarizes the progress that happened in a quarter with high-level view of the top 3 to 5 priorities and goals, complete with percentage of completion

How to write a project status report

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A project status report becomes more effective for all when it follows a standard format with predefined fields. It will be easier for the project manager to regularly update the fields while allowing the recipients to be familiar with the structure and where to look for the most important information.

General project information

This includes the project name, client name, report date, project manager, and any other project identifier. Make the project name descriptive and unique so as not to confuse readers who will instantly recognize what the project is about.

Actual vs. planned

This section will quickly indicate whether the project is on track, ahead of schedule, or behind schedule. Project managers can use a color coding system to quickly display the project status. A short explanation compares the actual progress and the planned progress based on the project plan.

Summary of the report

The summary should provide an overall idea of how the project is progressing in a few sentences. Without going into detail, PMs should give a big but clear picture of the current status of the project so that readers who do not have time to read the whole report can still get the important facts.

Key areas or milestones

Project managers should include information on key accomplishments, timelines, and milestones. Project milestones are the completion of important tasks and serve as a standard of project progress management. PMs can also highlight the key areas chronologically or group them by role or stages. For each key area, they can add a few bullet points that give a more detailed update on progress, accomplishments, and upcoming work.

Schedule

The status report should indicate whether the project is operating within expected timelines or not. If encountering delays or roadblocks, provide reasons or description. The report should also include upcoming milestones and other scheduled deliverables.

Budget

Project managers should present the current utilization of the budget. Stakeholders would want to know if the project is within budget or not. It should include explanations if there are notable variances within the budget.

Resources

The status of resource utilization is important to describe if the project is using resources well during the defined period. A forecast can also help stakeholders decide if the project requires additional resources or replenishment.

Risks and issues

Project managers should report all problems, challenges, or roadblocks that the team faced, and what the team did to address these issues. The report should also inform stakeholders of current risks to the project.

Read also: Help Your Team Manage Project Risks with a Risk Response Plan

Additional notes

This section can include an analysis of how the difference between the actual progress and the project plan impacts the project and what the next actions the team and others need to take to keep the project in its track. It can also contain any other important message that the stakeholders need to know.

Project status report template

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Here are some examples of simple project status report templates for any team.

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Things to remember

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Stakeholders rely on the status report for a heads-up on the project and use its content for decision-making. So, it is critical that project managers provide complete and accurate information in project status reports. Here are some important tips to remember when writing a project status report:

  • Be consistent in format, distribution cycle, and distribution method
  • Establish a standard reporting process and template with the team based on the information needs of the audience
  • Keep status reporting simple but effective, with no information overload
  • Ensure all parties are receiving the necessary information
  • Be familiar with the culture of the organization and respect the reporting hierarchy they observe
  • Anticipate questions and prepare to answer them
  • Be open with the stakeholders, whether the project is going smoothly or not
  • Be proud of your team’s accomplishments
  • Submit the report on time.
Jose Maria Delos Santos

Jose Maria Delos Santos

Jose is a subject matter expert and member of the writing team for Project-Management.com and Bridge24. He has written hundreds of articles including project management software reviews, books reviews, training site reviews, and general articles related to the project management industry.

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