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July 02, 2017

RAG Status Template Excel Download

What is RAG Status?

RAG is an acronym that stands for Red, Amber, and Green. RAG status comes into the picture when you track the status of the business project. One of the most common and simple mechanisms to report performance and status projects is using RAG indicators.
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RAG project status
RAG project status

Red Houston, we have a problem! There is a concerning situation that demands immediate attention.
Amber It could have been better but let me do some project management, and we’ll get back on track soon
Green  So far, so good, nothing to worry about, we plan to deliver against what was agreed.

Let’s be honest: most project managers dislike project status reports. However, that does not mean that they are not important. In fact, how would senior management know what is going on or if the organization's budget is effectively applied without a mechanism of reporting?

While I’m a believer in simplicity, by using a single indicator to reflect the status of your project, you may be preventing senior management from focusing on the areas that need tender loving care.

There may be important details to your project story! Some organizations prefer to decompose their project updates by applying the RAG status to the key dimensions of the project, such as scope, time, cost, or resources.

But what do we mean if a project has a red status for resources, for instance? It’s important that the same meaning is shared, and that is an objective view rather than simply an opinion; thus, today, I bring you some examples. Behold, we have a RAG Status Definition Matrix! Additionally, to get a sense of direction over time, you may want to include a section for “Trend,” as depicted below:

RAG status template
Additional RAG status trend

How to use RAG Status Reporting

Define your Status Report template: 

  • RAG status is usually captured as part of a Status Report template, including a list of key active risks and issues or what has been accomplished in the period and is planned for the next. 
  • Regardless of what you decide to put in the template, how you want to call it (“project-on-a-page” or “performance update” are nice variations to the feared “status report”), or how you want to get the update (Excel, whiteboard, showcase), this needs to be the same for everyone using it, that is, consistent. 

Define meanings and expected action: 

  • There are little things more frustrating in the project management universe than having to do something just for the sake of following a process. 
  • If your project board doesn’t know what is expected of them or simply does not bother that much with RAG status, there is less incentive for Project Managers to do it. 
  • It is thus important that everyone is aware of the RAG meanings and associated actions.
  • If I’m a project manager reporting an overall red status for my project, I’ll expect people to pay attention and even deploy some help (if I’m lucky).

Beware of Watermelon projects: 

  • Sometimes project managers believe that a red RAG will reflect on their level of competence; hence, they are afraid to report the real status of the project, often leading to the ‘watermelon’ phenomenon: projects that look green on the outside but, at a closer look, are red in the inside. 
  • Thus, senior management should create a climate of trust that enable project managers to share their story. 
  • As important as managing projects are managing for projects. Focus on creating a forum for brainstorming, not blame storming!
  • Define a reporting cycle:

    • Keyword again: consistency! Individually, agree to the frequency of reporting with your Project Managers and their project boards. 
    • It may be useful to define shorter reporting cycles for projects that are a priority or for which there are tight deadlines and longer reporting cycles for projects with a wider time frame. 
    • However, for portfolio-level reporting, all reports must be gathered simultaneously (last Friday of the month always sounds nice to me) so that you can see the forest and not just the trees. 

    Set an assurance model: 

    • You should always assume that project managers are honest when reporting their project, but…beware, optimism bias and watermelon projects exist! 
    • Therefore, why not make use of your Project Management Office (I heard PMOs are usually quite good with assurance)? 
    • PMOs can do a reality-check by initiating an auditor conducting a project health check to ensure that senior management gets data that is as accurate and factual as possible.

    Examples of Project RAG Statues

    RAG Status / Dimension
    ck; font-family: "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;">Scope

- Requirements unclear.
- Significant uncertainty in scope and deliverables.
- Scope creep and lack of a formal change request process.
- Project not expected to deliver fundamental elements of the scope.
- Significant concerns about the quality of the solution without acceptable workarounds.


- Requirements are somewhat clear.
- Only key deliverables are identified.
- The Scope is still moving/lacking clarity.
- Significant change requests not yet approved.
- The Project will not deliver all items in scope, but items not being delivered are not fundamental.
- Concerns about quality but some workarounds are acceptable.
- Plans in place to address the above.


- Requirements are clear.
- All deliverables are identified.
- It is clear what is in and out of scope.
- The Formal change request is in place.
- The Project is expected to deliver All items in scope.
- The Solution delivered by the Project is of the expected quality.

RAG Status / Dimension


- Timelines not clear.
- Critical path not identified.
- Original project completion date unachievable unless there is an intervention (funding, resources, etc.)


- Timelines are somewhat clear.
- Critical path not identified.
- Tasks/deliverables slipping against planned date but not expected to impact the original project completion date.
- Plans in place to mitigate the above.


- Timelines are clear.
- A Critical path is identified.
- On track to deliver to milestones.

RAG Status / Dimension


- Costs not understood.
- Budget not available.
- A Project has overspent or is expected to overspend by more than 5%.


- Remaining uncertainty about costs.
- Budget identified but not yet signed off.
- Project forecasted to overspend by no more than 5%.


- Costs are clearly defined.
- Budget allocated to the project.
- Project forecasted to be on track/under budget.

RAG Status / Dimension


- Project team not in place.
- Unclear roles and responsibilities.
- A-Team not motivated and underperforming.
- Resources unavailable.


- Project team still to be formed.
- Unclear roles and responsibilities.
- A-Team not motivated but performing.
- Some gaps in resourcing.
- Plans in place to address these.


- Project team in place.
- Clear roles and responsibilities.
- Team motivated.
- No significant gaps in resourcing.

RAG Status / Dimension

Stakeholder Engagement

- Key stakeholders have no visibility over the status of the project.
- Key stakeholders are not engaged with the project.


- Some of the key stakeholders are being kept informed.
- Key stakeholders are engaged with the project but expressed concerns.


- Key stakeholders are being kept informed.
- Key stakeholders are engaged with the project.

RAG Status / Dimension


- There is no plan in place for benefits realization.
- Project expected to deliver less than 80% of benefits.
- No plan in place to address the shortfall.


- There is a plan in place for benefits realization.
- Project expected to deliver between 80% and 100% of benefits.
- Plan in place to optimize benefits that can be achieved.


- There is a plan in place for benefits realization.
- The Project will deliver to expected benefits.
- Benefits anticipated being achieved when planned.

RAG Status / Dimension

Overall / Delivery Confidence

- The Project management team has no confidence in the delivery of the project.


- Project delivery is at risk but is still manageable.


- The Project management team is confident in the delivery of the project within agreed tolerances of scope, time, and cost.

What criteria do you use for project reporting? Are you a victim of watermelon projects? Tell us all about it!

Reporting RAG Status for Multiple Projects

Project Portfolio Management Dashboard, RAG status for multiple projects
Simple Project Portfolio Dashboard
  • There are always times when you want to show a simple status of your portfolio of projects. This dashboard displays the status of up to 8 projects and is a very easy-to-use PPT Template.
  • The dashboard is simple and based on PowerPoint, so it can be used to display dashboards.
  • It is divided into 8 sections, with each section dedicated to one project.
  • Each project has an overall status and then the status for key project indicators Schedule, Budget, Resources, and Risks.
  • Each KPI can have red, green, or amber, depending on its status.
  • Please see below for the explanation of the different types of indicators.
  • The RAG Status template also contains a simpler version with arrows.
  • To change the status, copy and paste the relevant image.
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