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Thursday, 21 August 2014 21:21

Use These Eight Sections for a Terrific Status Report

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This content is from the Method123 weekly email dated 2014.08.21

Why is it that most of us don’t have a problem working 60 hours a week taking care of our stakeholder’s needs, and yet we have difficulty writing a decent status report? There are two major problems. First, some
people do not have great written communication skills. However, in most cases, the problems with communication are not a lack of skills, but a lack of focus. Many project managers do not appreciate the value of communicating proactively. When they do communicate, it tends to be short and cryptic, as if they are trying to get by with the minimum effort possible.

The key to communicating is to keep the reader as the focal point – not the sender. Try to think about what the receiver of the communication needs and the information that will be most helpful to them. Ask yourself whether the information on the status reportis there to really communicate something valuable or is it just taking up space.

Typically the complete status report should include the following information:
  • The basics. Project name / project manager / time period / project description: This is all basic information that just needs to be included each time so that people know what they are reading.

  • Overall status indicator: Typically there is a very short indicator that reflects the overall status of the project. A common way to express this is with color codes such as green (on track), yellow (caution) or red (problems).

  • High-level status summary: Provide summary information regarding the overall project. Make sure that the questions are worded in a way so that a project that is on-track will answer either all 'yes' or all 'no'. The questions are focused on the present and future state of the project – not the past. For instance, 
      • Will the project be completed on time?
      • Will the project complete within budget?
      • Will the project deliverables be within acceptable quality?
      • Are project issues being addressed successfully?
      • Are project risks being successfully mitigated?
      •  Are all client concerns being addressed successfully?

  • Coments: Give more information on any questions above that were answered 'no'.

  • Significant accomplishments this period: List major accomplishments from the previous reporting period.  If the planned accomplishments from last period were not completed this period, the project manager should provide comments as to why.
  • Planned accomplishments for next period: List major planned accomplishments for the next reporting period.

  • Additional comments or highlights: Comments in other areas that the reader should know that would not be reflected in the status report.

  • Attachments: There are many other logs and reports that might be of interest to the reader. Potential attachments include the Issue Log, Scope Change Log, project metrics / statistics and earned value reports.

Writing good, effective and objective status reports requires focus and diligence on the part of the project manager. The purpose of the status report is to communicate the true nature of the project and manage expectations. Make sure that you communicate effectively so that the readers have a similar understanding of the project as you do.   

At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit or contact us at


Read 4276 times Last modified on Friday, 22 August 2014 14:29
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