Writing status or progress reports are not fun, but are a necessity. It’s like going to the doctor for a checkup – it’s not fun to go, but it’s a must-do necessity to see if you are well or not. Status reports are a way of communicating to the managers, clients, and stakeholders the state of a project – good or bad.
Status reports not only give you a view of a project’s current state, but also what has been achieved, and what has to be achieved – it provides a summary and aids in maintaining some control or management over a project. These reports help by presenting a good idea of what ‘next’ steps need to be taken till project completion is reached.
Before you begin the status report, make sure you are well-informed about the project’s business scope so that critical stages can be listed and prioritized. Hence, the status report can include (when necessary) items such as, whether or not there have been or will be issues involved during those critical stages to affect the project either negatively or positively.
- To make creating the status report easier, components can be derived from the project plan. Next, provide additional content or expand on the essentials. If you maintain and/or schedule the status report in the same sequence as the project plan, you can easily see what stage everyone is at within the project, i.e., the status of everyone’s tasks. Any additional items listed in the status report can also be gathered from the requirements document as it will note items such as cost, as well as, e.g., issues or concerns from those involved (resources) to equipment (software/hardware), etc.
- To ensure that you have included all necessary items, create a checklist
- To keep all stakeholders informed, the status report, should be written either weekly or biweekly. How often you create a status report depends on the magnitude and length of a project as well as what’s involved. For example, short-projects and some long-term projects can require a weekly status report. (Long-term projects involving, e.g., major financial subjects may require weekly status reports instead of biweekly.) Most long-term projects require biweekly status reports; especially if time is needed for research or a significant amount of programming.
The status report should always have a consistent format for ease of readability, thus allowing readers to easily pinpoint particular information, such as, whether or not the project is on schedule and on budget. For example, depending on your format, critical issues such as scope changes can be noted in the beginning, and resolved issues can be noted towards the end of the report.
The status report cannot be done alone by the project managers. They need input from all project team members. Each member involved from inception to completion (from technical writer to tester) should be required to provide a status to the project manager, who will then gather and assemble all the information. Formal status reports are not needed from all team members; e.g., some programmers can just send an email or verbally state what they are currently working on, what they have completed, as well as their concerns and issues during their weekly/biweekly status meetings.
If you have had to create status reports, what else is needed?