Overview with tools, software, best practices and alternatives

What is an email report?

Today’s workplaces are no longer confined to office buildings, instead, remote workers from all over the world access their workplaces via Internet, submitting their works through high speed connections provided by Internet Service Providers all over the world. Email reports are necessary tools in this virtual atmosphere for the important task of getting everyone updated on current work progress of the team.

With email reports, virtual teams get the necessary information whenever they want without any hassle from office clerks. Email reports gets delivered to virtual teams either for replying back or for reviewing the current progress and status of the project the team is working on. Each member can see what the others are up to, and send their own comments and opinions along with their reply to the query sent by the running email application.

Email reports are server based applications that process communication between workers, who are presumably remote working. They are automated for the most part and require only minor set up procedures on the project manager’s part. This goes for a lot of email report tools in the Internet market today.

But there are also email report applications which may be integrated with a lot of other features besides the exchange of information between remote working members of a team. Some email reports may be equipped with graphical profiles that encourage the team members to increase their report outputs by adding additional data that may be incorporated into the graphics profile of the email report application.

In general use, email reports replaces status meetings with its capability to deliver the same amount of information if not more in a compact, easy to read form. Email reports saves time and money by taking the place of status meetings in a virtual atmosphere.

Who makes email reports and why?

For the most parts, email reports are done by remote workers who need to communicate their progress to the team and to the project manager. The project manager also does his part by assembling all the individual reports from each team member and creating an overview together with his own comments and instructions to his team.

This procedure may also be automated in part in an email report. For email report applications also come with their own algorithms in place for handling the inflow and outflow of data between the project manager who handles the email application configuration located in the web, and the team members, who each must submit their reply to the queries of the email report application in their emails.

How to do email reporting

Email reports are done via setup procedures on the site housing the project manager’s account in the web based email report application. According to the work program that the project manager implements, the email report application will conduct the data exchanges between all the members of the team accordingly.

The format and content of the email report is determined by the team leader who chooses what questions and issues the team should answer upon receiving the query email from the email report application.

Advantages and disadvantages of email reports

Email reports saves tons of time and money as they replace traditional reporting tools that are usually used in traditional status meetings. With only email access and email reply procedures to commit themselves into – as far as status updating is concerned – project team members gets the reporting job done quickly and with very little hassle. Workers, whether remote working or not, enable themselves to get more work done from the increased available time.

Along with the savings in time and money, email reports also reduce information asymmetry and micro-management of the leadership by balancing the information shared between members of the team and giving the project manager an overall picture of work progress instead of views of individual works.

Disadvantages of email reports

The main disadvantage of email reports are the ones dealing with the inherent weaknesses of emails in the way they handle exchanges.. A way to categorize the email communications between all members of the working team must be put in place. Email reply-hell could ensue if email reports are done like ordinary email exchanges.

Another weakness is the matter of accessibility. Accessibility has to be set up on a case to case basis for whoever may be interested in the report. Email reports are not publicly available and if the need arises to make a report publicly available, then a separate publishing has to be done.

Best practices in making email reports

Since email reporting is an Internet based activity, team workers, especially the remote working members of the team, must possess advanced levels of Internet savvy in order to carry out their task more efficiently. Internet terms have to be understood and net procedures have to be known to team members if they must use the tool of email reporting productively.

Stable hardware and software configurations must also be in place, for email reports are directly dependent on the hardwares and softwares on hand and any malfunction or crash can ruin one or more reporting sessions.

Teamreporter, a good email reporting tool

Email reports are more persuasive when done simply and quickly without much additional unnecessary details. This, Teamreporter delivers with its very simple commands like customizing questions for the team, scheduling of the sending of questions and status updates to the team, and the archiving of the email reports. All these Teamreporter undertakes by means of the following procedures:

  • Project manager sets up the team’s Teamreporter account on its website
  • Teamreporter sends questions to remote workers to answer.
  • Teamreporter collects all the answers of the remote team which corresponds to the status of each worker and sums them all up into an overview which is sent back to the team as the status update.
  • Reminders are sent to forgetful workers.
  • The reports are archived

Teamreporter also has the following advantages:

  • Takes only 5 minutes to set up an account for the team
  • No IT training required for the whole team, even novices can use it.
  • Members only need to log in to their email account.

Teamreporter increases efficiency of the team by means of its automatic and structured delivery of status reports in easy to access forms.

Alternatives to email reports

Nothing beats a real time face to face communication, and so a lot of companies choose other virtual environments to support remote working teams. Internet applications like Skype video chats and Google hangouts provide real time communications in video, audio and text that motivate the team members in crucial group meetings.

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Teamreporter is free for small teams (up to 4 members)