Overview with tools, software, best practices and alternatives

What is a project status report?

Everyone involved in a certain company project needs to stay in touch of all the eventualities that may arise in connection to the project’s progress. Data regarding all these eventualities are communicated to all involved persons by means of project status reports.

Project status reports are timely and concise reports that detail the most important events that are currently affecting the company’s project. They are the modes of transmission by which valuable data pertaining to the status of the project are relayed to clients, executives and other stakeholders for them to analyze what direction the project is headed to. Senior executives of the company decide what interventions to undertake (if any) basing from the data that the project status report contains.

A typical project status report may consist of the following three components:

  • The overall dynamics of the project’s progress and status. How is the project progressing on key relevant issues? Is it within the scope of the initial budgeting allotment? Are the project team members involved handling their tasks efficiently? These questions deserve to be answered in the overall summary content of the project status report.
  • Milestones achieved needs to be recorded in some logical order. Whether by chronological order or arranged by their significance to the project, records of milestones are significant areas of interests to clients and executives, allowing them to gauge the project’s progress at a moment’s glance on these records of milestones.
  • Technical issues evolving out of the team member’s work routine are summarized and given due attention in the project status report. Important technical issues needs to be addressed in the soonest time possible, for unnecessary technical delays and comeuppances can become serious encumbrances in the overall operations of the project.

Who does project status reports and why?

Project managers are tasked with the communicating and the analyzing of the project status by presenting project status reports to all involved personnel of the company. These project status reports enable everyone, especially the senior executives and the client, to correct potential trouble spots that they can spot in the said report.

Project managers can also weed out potential conflicts in the different departments of the project by intervening early on upon the appearance of such potential conflicts in the project status report.

Project team members, on the other hand, are made aware of the different situations in other departments of the company by the multi-dimensional data that the project status report contains.

How to do project status reports

In order to do a good project status report, two key points must be kept in mind:

  • First, organize the framework of the project status report. The breakdown of all the relevant issues that are to be discussed within the report must start from the top down to the bottom. This means presenting the overall picture of the project’s progress first before going down to the details. High level subjects, such as the financial situation of the project, takes priority in the report before details such as technical issues in the computer department etc.
  • After organizing the project status report, decide on the content of the report. Important areas to consider when making the content of the report are: financial overview, the scheduling of the project (whether the team is accomplishing targets on time), important changes made to the project (this may include new orders, budgetary allowances and others) and explanations of comments and issues presented by those who attend the meeting regularly.

Advantages and pitfalls of project status reports

First of all, project status reports provides an in-depth summary of the overall progress the project is making. From the summative data it presents, executives can perform a quick analysis of the project’s situation. They can easily decide whether actions need to be taken or to let the work continue without interventions.

Project status reports are also excellent monitoring tools for the monitoring of critical areas of the project and the effectivity of corresponding interventions implemented on such critical areas.

With the early detection of problems implied in project status reports, executives and project managers can launch a pre-emptive strategy to combat such potential problems.

With project status reports, an executive can get an organizational feedback from the company employees under him, and so determine his performance ratings to the company.

As for the pitfalls, the dilemmas that may encompass the making of project status reports can be enumerated as follows:

  • Lack of trust between senior executives and the lowly project team members in charge of the issuance of reports produces misreporting of facts and data.
  • The greater the power divide between those making the report and those receiving the reports, the greater is the chance of misreporting of data.
  • Cultural differences (for example in virtual remote teams) can also produce instances of misreporting of data.

The human factor of workers desiring an image of competency in their part versus the company’s need for actual data plays a significant disadvantage to senior executives who need accurate reports for their decision making.

Best practices in doing project status reports

For those in the supervisory positions of the company, an old adage from national government practice very well applies – trust but verify. Senior executives would do well not to take project status reports in their face value. Project staffs can be hampered by biases when issuing status reports to their superiors. They need to protect their jobs and so holds on to it by releasing quite favorable reports when a bleak report would have been more starkly accurate. Trust but verify the data contained in project status reports.

Remote working teams stand better chances of giving accurate reports when they are composed of different members. Diversity in the composition of remote working teams can balance the cultural significance in the making of project status reports. Different members can neutralize the cultural predispositions of each other to influence their reports, thus a more accurate report can be obtained.

Teamreporter as a tool for project status reporting

Teamreporter is a web based email application that is most applicable to remote and virtual teams who needs regular status updates without the inconvenience of having to attend status meetings. Teamreporter keeps every member of the team up to date by asking for their status reports, then collecting these individual reports and making an overall project status report that is sent back to all members

The team members get to know of the overall project status by filling up simple questionnaires that Teamreporter sends to each member.

Senior executives can also peruse these project status reports that Teamreporter makes from the individual team member’s status reports. Clients and other stakeholders can also be recipients of the status reports that are created by Teamreporter. In operation, Teamreporter does the following:

  • Creating questions that the team members will answer.
  • Tailoring the questions to be asked to fit project needs
  • Scheduling the sending out of email queries.
  • Team members replying with their status reports.
  • Upon receiving individual team member reports, scheduling of overall status updates to every team member.
  • Adopting preset business scenarios.
  • Prompting team members who forget their reports.
  • Arranging an archive of team status reports

It has the following advantages:

  • Ready in 5 minutes
  • Free startup
  • Accessible even to novice users and managers
  • No IT software or hardware requirements
  • Only email login required for team members

With simplicity and ease of operation, Teamreporter stands to be a great tool in the making of project status reports.

Alternatives of project status reporting

Project status is best reported in a formal project status report where all the pertinent details of project status are covered in a presentable form. But alternatively, project managers can make use of the various communication options available today such as Skype chats and messaging, standard emails, video chats, among others. Each of them have their particular shortcomings, but nevertheless, can be used to communicate vital project status data.

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