Thursday, 13 February 2014

Why writing a Project Status Report is not a chore

I've met several Project Managers who view writing any Project status report as a chore. I think the opposite. I like to write a weekly status report (or Highlight Report as PRINCE2 likes to call it). Let me explain why.

Project Status Report - You want a Status Report on the Status Report!

Reason 1 to write a Project Status Report

By undertaking the exercise of writing a report it helps force yourself to undertake a top down review of where the project is. When under day to day pressures, sometimes it is difficult to find the time to step back and do this. 

I like to cover the following whether these are documented in the status report or not:
  • how are we progressing against key tasks?
  • did we achieve what we set out to this week?
  • what do we need to achieve next week? 
  • are any remedial actions necessary e.g. requesting overtime etc
  • is the critical path threatened?
  • forecast of key milestones in the future and have we met any this week?
  • review of issues, what should I highlight?
  • review of risks, what should I highlight?
  • RAG rating against a number of criteria, meeting the key milestone in the Project Definition/PID, cost, quality/scope, stakeholder engagement, issues, risks and dependencies
  • what am I going to say as a management summary statement?
In addition there are two items I like to consider in addition to the above monthly:

Reason 2 to write a Project Status Report

By writing and distributing the report you should be achieving part of your communications strategy to keep relevant stakeholders informed. My belief is that once a week I should keep the Sponsor informed of status rather than wait for formal Project Board Meetings which tend to be monthly.

Reason 3 to write a Project Status Report

Reinforce your status. Many people won't be aware of what you are doing day to day. By having a well presented status report informing people, you reinforce your status as a professional Project Manager.

Reason 4 to write a Project Status Report

Having a set of weekly status reports is very useful when sitting down at the end of the project to look at lessons learnt and write a closure report.

So don't moan. Embrace the concept of the weekly status report, plan your week to produce and issue to an agreed schedule (I like drafting on Friday afternoon, tweaking and issuing on Monday morning). If it shows one thing to the outside world, it shows you can at least manage yourself!!

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