When you write your weekly status report, remember that it’s your best opportunity to address any concerns of your project sponsor. It’s also an opportunity to get support and decisions that you need to finish the project successfully. Let’s think about the sponsor’s perspective of a new project manager with whom he or she is not familiar.
Weekly Status Report – Address Sponsor’s Concerns
Here’s what the sponsor is concerned about:
- Does this project manager have control of what’s happening on the project?
- Does he know about any problems or will he be surprised down the road?
- Where are we today and what’s the forecast of costs and finish date?
- Do the team members understand what the PM expects of them? Project Tracking Reports Main Page
Those are very reasonable questions and concerns for a project sponsor so you need to write your status report to answer those questions. If you can provide answers to those questions, you will go a long way in building your credibility with the sponsor and gaining their support for the things you need to finish the project successfully.
Watch this video about writing and presenting status reports.
Before you start to put together a massive data dump, here are some things to keep in mind as you decide what to include:
- The project sponsor and other stakeholders are not familiar with all the details of your project. Don’t assume they know as much about it is you do. The best approach is to assume that they know the name of the project and nothing more.
- The sponsor and stakeholders have a limited amount of time to spend and they’re not going to sit through a 30-slide PowerPoint show or a deep dive into the project data.
- They are primarily interested in learning if the project will finish on time and within budget. The best technique is to answer those questions in the first 60 seconds. If the news is good, it will relieve their concerns. If the news about budget and completion date is bad, you will come across as being very frank and forthright about the problems. Then you can immediately launch into discussing solutions.
- You should give a very short summary of the forecasted completion date and cost. Then identify the following:
- the tasks that are experiencing problems
- what will happen to the completion date and cost if we don’t fix them
- what you can do about those problems
- what the results will be after your corrective action.
When you take this approach, you are answering three of those four questions the sponsors always have. As importantly, you are answering them in the first few minutes of your status report. You are hiding nothing. They know as much about the problem(s) when you’re done as you do. There are problems on all projects. But if the sponsors think you know what’s going on and that you’ll frankly tell them about it, you will be successful. Project Tracking Software – Video
Don’t be alarmed if some of the stakeholders or even the sponsor get up and leave after you answer all their questions in the first few minutes. These are busy people and that just means you did your job right.
For those people who stay beyond the opening minutes, you should demonstrate that you are in control of the project and all the project team members know what you expect of them. Your status report can:
- list the major accomplishments or activities for the preceding reporting period
- identify the objectives for the next reporting period
- identify issues or challenges to the project’s success. Project Variances
Many project managers miss the opportunity to help the sponsor and stakeholders report on project progress. Remember, they usually must prepare a report for their boss detailing how the project manager and team are performing during that reporting period. Status Report Template
The report may also include details related to the triple constraints (yes, there are six): Team Status Reports
- Time (schedule)
- Cost (budget)
- Quality (deliverables)
- Resources (staff)
- Scope (objectives or activities)
- Risk (may include issues or challenges).
Weekly Status Report – Summary
Writing good status reports requires a number of components. First, you need good status data from your team members. Second, you need reasonable knowledge of project management software so you can produce data about completion dates, forecasts and overall project performance. Then you have to actually put the data into a status report and present it. See Also Decision Making Data, Earned Value, Change Orders and Red Light Status
You learn all of those skills in our online project management basics courses. You work privately with an expert project manager. You control the schedule and pace and have as many phone calls and live video conferences as you wish. Take a look at the basics course in your specialty.