By Brad Egeland | Follow on Twitter!

No question, a lot of work, time, effort and dollars go into making our projects successful - or at least as successful as we can “make” them. Sometimes we fail and sometimes things outside of our control cause our projects to fail despite our most diligent efforts. But at the heart of the project is communication and nothing drives that communication more and as regularly as the project status report.

Let’s consider what, in my opinion, are 3 ways to help the project status report make your project as successful as it can be.

One Size Fits All Report

Keep it simple. Well, not simple, but make your PM life as easy as possible by not creating a different report for every person or stakeholder or group who may want to see it. Go with a one-size fits all type approach. Include the high-level dashboard that senior management and the key project sponsor will want to see at a glance to ensure everything is on track. That will likely be a green-yellow-red stop light approach on key areas like timeline, budget, change orders, issues, etc. Then move into the heart of the status report showing what’s recently been accomplished, what is in progress now, and what’s starting soon. Next cover outstanding issues and assignments as well as more in-depth info into the financial health of the project/budget.

Every project will likely need a different reporting format to some degree. Why? Because not all projects are created equal and you will almost always find yourself tailoring the project status report to best fit what the project customer wants and needs to see. One thing more thing I do recommend because they are so important to the project and often to the customer - include an area on the report for a status on any outstanding change order work or proposals. Both you and the customer will want to stay up on those as the engagement progresses.

Produce It On Schedule

The key here is consistent delivery. The project status report is such a key component of the project communication puzzle. It helps ensure proper understanding of status among project stakeholders and meeting participants. Even if not much is going on with the project, don’t skip a week. Update it accurately and in detail and send it out to everyone. If you start to skip the slow weeks, the customer will start to be concerned about the gaps in delivery and start to lose confidence in the project team’s ability to deliver. You don’t want the project customer to start questioning your progress and ability – it can go downhill fast.

Follow-up to Ensure Understanding

Finally, always take notes and always follow-up after any status meeting with a status report that has been revised with the outcome notes from the project manager or designated note-taker. Because accurate communication is so critical on the project, the project manager should always follow-up after the status meeting with a revised report showing notes, outcomes, decisions, assignments, etc. that came out of the meeting. Send it out to all meeting participants and ask for confirmation or changes within twenty-four hours. The goal is to ensure common understanding among all participants.

Summary

Communication is job one for the project manager. The status report is a huge part of the project communication responsibility because it is so important to the weekly discussions that go on for the project as well as the weekly understanding of where the project stands right now. If the project manager is going to go overboard focusing on one particular thing on the project it should be the project status report.

How does this match up with your thoughts on key areas of focus for good project status reporting? Please share your thoughts and let’s discuss.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brad is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad's site at http://www.bradegeland.com/.

Online 2/22/2016
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