Write A Progress Report That Matters
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If you've been a project manager for a while you've probably already written lots of progress report, but do you feel confident those reports were as good as they could have been? Did you feel like your reason for writing those reports was clear? Have you found yourself writing the reports because they need doing, not because you're trying to get a specific benefit or result from them?
Not all PMs are focused when compiling reports, which means often weekly progress reports can simply be lacking in value.
What Could I Be Doing Wrong?
There are some really common mistakes people make when writing progress reports. One problem is the inclusion of general information and no real focus or recognition of key project issues. Which in turn means the report isn't particularly accurate.
So you might simply be explaining what has happened, with no real mention of how the events relate to, for instance, potential risks.
Because of this, senior management or stakeholders have no real reason to think too much about it when they receive it, and they have no real reason to take any action because you haven't suggested there's need for any. In the worst cases people may attach the file to an email without explaining what the attachment is or without even labelling the file, so the email gets ignored and the report doesn't even get read.
How Can I Create A Good Progress Report?
First things first, you need to ensure it is concise, specific information that is useful. It should include details about milestones, risk management, budget and any other information that could be useful and/ or that requires action. The information should be an overview of each issue.
To create an excellent progress report make sure you include your name and the sponsor's name. Write a top 3 or top 5 list of risks and issues and explain who is responsible for that task and taking action on it. Include budget information and how you're managing it, and include an overview of milestones. As well as the essential information, don't be afraid to also include positives like achievements from the last working period. As a priority, make sure that it is clear on the report what action is needed and who needs to take it. So if you need somebody to respond or decide on something in the report - make that clear. Lastly, make sure you label the report and state what it is in the email so it doesn't get ignored.
Remember, progress reports might seem like annoying administrative tasks that need completing but they can be extremely useful if they are written and used in the right way; useful for you the project manager to pull together the key points in one place and also useful for clients and stakeholders who may have to take action. Create a progress report with purpose and reap the benefits.