Use Status Reports to Manage Expectations
Let’s face it - Status Reports are usually not as effective as they should be. This is true for team members that submit Status Reports to the project manager, as well as project managers that are submitting Status Reports to their major stakeholders. One of the major reasons is that the people completing the reports look upon them as a chore and not as a way to communicate valuable information. You typically get a Status Report that is very brief and says nothing, or else you get a Status Report that contains all the mundane activities that a person did.
The person creating the Status Report needs to write it so that the reader can use the information. The information needs to be of value. The writer should ask whether the information on the Status Report is there to really communicate something valuable or is it just checking a box.
Information to include in your report
Typically the Status Report should focus on the following:
- Accomplishments against the assigned activities on the schedule
- Comments on work that should be completed but is behind schedule
- Problems (issues) encountered, the impact to the project, and what is being done to resolve them
- Scope change requests
- Risks and what is being done to manage them
- Observations that will be useful to the reader
Report on a “frequent enough” basis
The frequency of status reporting is based on the length of the project and the speed in which you need to react. For instance, if your project is two months long and the project manager receives Status Reports from the team members on a monthly basis, there is not enough time to respond if problems are reported. A good rule of thumb is as follows:
- Small projects may not need formal status reporting.
- Team members on medium projects should report status every week.
- Team members on large projects should report status every week or perhaps every two weeks.