Project Management Status Report for Dummies

Sending status reports is an important part of project management. This article will help you understand the reasons why you should status reports, what should the status report contain, who and when to send it out and how you can create status reports.

Project Management Status Report
Project Management Status Report

Why to send project status reports...

  • Keeping stakeholders informed - there is nothing more annoying to a stakeholder then being misinformed about their project. You always need to keep them informed good or bad news.
  • Keep the project team informed - the project team should know how their project is running and should also know what others are being told about their projects, This also gives a chance to the project manager to validate the information that is being sent out.
  • Acts as a checkpoint and enforces project progress tracking - When sending a status report the content needs to be updated. When updating the content you will in a way forced to get the latest project status. If an action item is due then you will realize that when you are updating the status report.
  • Opportunity to highlight risks & issues - You can always add risks and issues to the project status report so that the key stakeholders are aware of them.

  • Opportunity to communicate your views – Most of the projects are epic centers for office politics.  There is always someone who wants to influence the project. As a project manager is owner of the status report he or she can explain their views to the team.
  • Out of jail card – When there is an issue in the project the first thing I do is to add it to the status report and publish it. Sending this information to the stakeholders makes them aware and then you have proof of when you sent the status report.
  • Acts as a reminder mechanism – People get annoyed when PMs remind them of their action items. Using a status report a PM can easily highlight delayed tasks or action items.

What should you include...

  • Summary - A free text update so that you can provide an overall view of the project activities that have happened in the last week.
  • Tasks/Schedule - List the key milestones and their current status. The tasks provide a good indicator of how the project is going.
  • Budget - Include the planned and actual spent figures for the project. Including a variance figure helps everyone understand if the project budget is on track.
  • Risks and Issues - Highlighting the key risks and issues is a very important aspect of status reporting. It is a good practice to report the top 3 risks and issues.

  • Action Items - Sharing action items is a good practice as everyone will know who is responsible for the action item.
  • Change Requests - Always include any new change requests.
  • Resourcing Information - Including resourcing details enables a project manager to highlight any resourcing that may exists.
  • Benefits - It is important to track project benefits on a weekly basis. Having them in the project status report will mean that the stakeholders will know if the project benefits are on track.

When and whom to send...

  • Weekly - Majority of the project managers prefer sending the report on Friday or Monday as it covers the previous week.
  • Monthly or Fortnightly - If it is a brief one page status report then it makes sense to send it once a week but if more than a page then fortnightly or monthly will also work.
  • Include - key stakeholders, project team, your manager, sponsor, co-workers and any person who can be related to the project.
  • Check before sending - When adding controversial issues or escalations make sure you give the people responsible a heads-up. This helps in maintaining relationship with the project team.
  • Maintain Frequency - Whatever frequency daily or monthly make sure you maintain the same frequency throughout the project duration.

How to send the status report...

  • Status Report Templates - You can use Word, Excel or PowerPoint template.
  • Project Management Dashboards - Use dashboards to display project statues.
  • Generally, the status reports are emailed to everyone. You can also send a link to the document.
Swapnil Wale

Written by

Swapnil Wale is an IT Professional based in Sydney, Australia with over 10 years of experience in technology and project management. He is a passionate blogger and focuses on project management and BRMS articles.


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