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Published on Friday, October 5, 2018
As a project manager, you probably already spend a fair amount of time writing project reports. There are several types of common report that you produce. Do you really take enough time to consider the different reports you do, and make sure that when you create them they are tailored for your readers’ needs?
Here’s our guide to some common report types and how you can ensure they are helpful for your stakeholders.
Project status reports are the kind of report we all think about when it comes to project reporting. Project managers produce these on a regular basis. They include information about:
Project status reports really can be very flexible.
Typically you’ll have different status reports prepared at different times throughout the project.
Learn more about creating Project Schedule Reports when working with Primavera P6 files.
At busy times, you might need to do daily reporting. At times of ‘normal’ activity – such as there is ever normal activity on a project – you may be producing reports monthly. Find a rhythm that works for you and your stakeholders.
Tip: Be practical with the reporting decisions you make. There is no point reporting progress daily if you don’t have tasks shorter than 3 days, for example. You won’t make enough progress in a single day to warrant the effort required to produce a report.
Project status reports provide information to dashboards – sometimes you might find you don’t need a separate status report if all the information is available real time in the dashboard.
You can read more about dashboards in this article.
These are different from your normal summary status reports as they are tailored to an executive audience who want to have different information.
The report you produce for your project sponsor and project board will be different to the report that you use to share progress with the team – the level of detail expected and understood will be different.
Board reports should be high level but with enough background to enable the people involved to make decisions as required.
Here are some tips for exec reporting:
Tailor the report to include what the project board want to read about. For example, they will need information about the project budget, supplier relationships and issues that need attention. You can call out these points in a summary box at the top of the report, or in the covering email.
Execs are busy. Make it easy for them to pick out the most important parts of the report and the things that you need them to be taking action on.
From time to time, check that your reports are giving them what they need. Ask them if they feel the information is still appropriate, and that the reports are appropriately timed. Make any changes necessary. This will set you apart from project managers who don’t engage with stakeholders and who simply produce template reports each month.
Ad-hoc reports include anything that you might need to produce during the lifecycle of a project. This is catchall category where we can include everything else! For example:
There are also some documents that are not produced regularly throughout the project but appear as a one-off, such as the project closure report.
Many of these you’ll produce as and when required. Risk reports, for example, will be produced monthly, or at a frequency you agree. They are usually the output of the risk review meeting. You might include risk review as part of your regular team meetings, so you may incorporate the risk report in a status report instead of creating a separate document.
Resource reports help you identify what people are working on. They let you spot areas where teams may have the capacity to take on more work, or are doing too much work. Then you can adjust workload and task assignments accordingly.
A huge part of project management is communication. You need to be able to get your message across about the project, and reporting is one of doing that. Reports can drive action, get decisions and inform people about what is happening. They might not be the most fun element of project management, but they are necessary!
Because project managers produce so many reports, it is worth thinking about how you can speed up the process of creating them. Use templates. Automate your reports through online dashboards. Schedule reports to be created direct from your project management software, and emailed to the team. Think about what you can do to make your life easier and get the right information to the right people at the right time.
Choose the best report for the task at hand. Use the information in them to monitor progress and communicate about your project.
If you are interested in conveying your message to your target market, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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