I’d like to go through a communication series and cover every aspect of what’s involved for effective communication on the project with the team and the customer. Requirements may be the lifeblood of the project, but communication is the beating heart and without proper, effective, and efficient communication no project can succeed. And that all starts with the project manager.
In the first segment, we’ll start looking at the project status report. Because it is something that is produced weekly, contains up to date status, and drives the weekly status call with the team and customer (at least in my methodology it does!), it is one of the most critical pieces to your project management puzzle. Skipping it or slacking on its information is really not an option.
If you share my belief that the project status report should drive the weekly status call, then all relevant project status information should be included. In fact, look at the status report as something that you – the project manager – could produce and give to just about anyone and they could then drive the project status meeting. This serves two purposes:
- It allows you to miss a meeting if you have an emergency or another project needs your attention
- It gives you something that you can hand to your senior leadership at any given time and say “here is the current status (within days) of ‘x’ project”
The project status report should contain
Self-explanatory, but follow whatever format your organization requires while still making it obvious to you, your team, and your customer what project it is.
Be brief but include enough information so that senior leadership on either side of the project will have a general idea of what the project is about. Remember, you want to be able to give this to your CEO periodically and have it be meaningful to them. Don’t assume anything.
Contact information for key project personnel
This is important mainly for the project team members. Quick and easy access to contact info for all major players on both project teams can be critical – you don’t want individuals to have to search too long for this type of information.
Quick view high-level status on project, budget, and schedule
This is another critical piece of information for the PMO Director, your CEO, other senior leadership, and your customer’s project sponsor or senior leadership. Executives like dashboards – give them a place in the report to go to for a Green/Yellow/Red quick status view with some minimal text to back it up.
Recent tasks completed
Identify completed tasks for at least the past reporting period – which should be the past week.
Tasks in progress. Show detail information on the tasks that are currently underway so everyone knows what they should be working on and when it’s due.
I like to show upcoming tasks for a four-week window broken out week-by-week. This gives everyone on both teams a heads-up on what is happening in the next month and who’s responsible for each of the tasks.
Status of all change requests
Keeping a running status of all change requests – both completed and in-progress – is important information for the customer and your senior leadership.
Additional information that can be included:
- Detailed budget status. Showing detailed budget information – including forecast information for the project – keeps everyone informed and ensures that the budget will never get too far off track before everyone sees it and it becomes a discussion point.
- Issues status. You can track all issues separately or as part of the status report. If you include it on the status report it makes it harder to skip the discussion of this key piece of information.
- Risks status. Same as issues status. Track it either way, but be sure it’s tracked and discussed often.
The project status report should be the one document you can hold up and say, here is my project and what’s going on right now. The project schedule is great and also a must-have, but not everyone likes to read a project schedule – some customers are even very adverse to reading one, but no one turns away a good, detailed status report. Plus, regularly producing a detailed status report will keep your customer confident that you are in control and know the status of the project at any given point.