In this article about the Status Report Template, we’ll discuss the sponsor’s expectations and the raw materials you’ll need to make and deliver a professional status report each week that will build your credibility with the project stakeholders and sponsors.
Project sponsors expect project managers to know what’s going on in the projects they’re managing. While some sponsors expect you to provide the project status on a daily basis, most are satisfied with a weekly status report. Project Tracking Reports Main Page
Status Report Template: Project Sponsors’ Expectations
Let’s start by considering what project sponsors expect of their project managers. First, they want you to know what’s happening with the project. They want weekly status reports on the project team’s performance, the results and any problems. Second, they expect you to anticipate problems and solve them. They don’t expect to hear about surprise problems; particularly late in the project. Third, they expect you to deliver concise and well-organized status reports that give them the data they want without wasting a lot of time on technical details or project management minutia. How to Write a Weekly Status Report
Status Report Template: Keep it Simple
With those expectations in mind, you must avoid trying to impress executives with long-winded technical details or excessive detail on individual tasks in the project. You impress your sponsor and stakeholders by simply giving them the data they want about whether the project will finish on time and within budget. You need to use a weekly Status Report Template to plan your weekly status reports, whether they are written or in-person, to answer those questions in the first 60 seconds. If you launch into a 30-slide Power Point presentation, don’t be shocked if they interrupt you after the fifth slide and ask the questions they want answered. It’s much wiser to give them the information they want in the first minute. Don’t make them drag it out of you. This is particularly true if things aren’t going well on the project. If you don’t talk about the problems early, they will think you’re hiding them.
Status Report Template: Current Data
You need current data to enter into the Status Report Template. That will allow you to compare where you should be on the project, as of that day, to where you actually are. The foundation for good status reports is in good project plans and schedules. That doesn’t mean they have to be long. A one-page project plan and a 20-line project schedule are more than enough for a small project. Here’s what the project plan has to include:
- a measurable scope definition. It can be as little as one sentence like, “Less than 3% of our customers are on hold for more than 30 seconds.”
- a list of major deliverables to carry you from where you are now to the above defined scope.
- a work breakdown structure (WBS) where those major deliverables are broken down into tasks lasting between one and seven days. They are an assignment for one of your team members.
- a project schedule that has estimates on the amount of work for each task in the WBS. It also includes information on which tasks must finish before other tasks can start.
If you have that kind of project plan, you can assemble your weekly status report. Here’s what you need:
- information from each team member telling you how many hours they worked on their task and how many hours of work remain.
- after you put this team member data into your scheduling software, you have one-on-one discussions with every team member whose tasks are not in line with the plan/schedule.
With this information, you can use the Status Report Template. Following the guidelines above on what you want to present and how you want to present it, you would prepare the following data:
- forecast of the project completion date and final costs
- tasks experiencing major variances (good and bad) from the plan
- corrective action you recommend for bringing those tasks back into compliance with the plan/schedule
- cost of your recommended corrective action
- reforecast of the project completion date and final costs after implementation of your corrective action.
Status Report Template: Early Warning About Problems
Executives do not like surprises. They particularly don’t like bad news surprises. So when you deliver expected results every week that coincide with the plan, the executives feel comfortable with the project. If your weekly status reports suddenly communicate an enormous variance to the plan, the executives don’t believe this developed recently or unexpectedly. They suspect you were hiding the problems. Executives expect you to give them early warning about problems that will affect the project’s completion date and total cost. They also expect you to identify problems early, when you can solve them quickly and cheaply, rather than waiting until disaster strikes.
Unfortunately, many PMs are not equipped to identify problems early, when they’re small. We discussed how you should plan your projects to be able to give a professional status report. Now let’s talk about why you have to do it that way. The short answer is because those project-planning techniques let you spot problems early. Project managers who don’t have that type of plan have no ability to track week to week the actual work on a task versus the planned work on that task. Those project managers may receive “thumbs up” weekly status reports from team members on their tasks when actually they have not done any work on them. That’s why your weekly status report template includes tracking the actual work completed versus the plan/schedule. That lets you find out about a problem when it’s small and you have time to fix it.
In addition to that technical problem, many project managers improperly handle bad news from their team members. This causes the team members to not report problems as early as they could (and should). If you greet bad news on a team member’s task with anger, you won’t hear about future problems early. The team member won’t tell you until they can’t hide the problem any longer. That’s why it’s best to be appreciative when people tell you about problems they’re having. Then you and the team member have time to work out a solution.
You learn all of the status reporting skills in our online project management basics courses. You work privately with a 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 courses in your specialty.
At the beginning of your 4pm course, when you and Dick talk to design your program and what you want to learn, you will select case studies that fit the kind of projects you want to manage. Chose you course and then select the which specialty case study from business, or marketing, or construction, or healthcare, or consulting. That way your case studies and project plans, schedules and presentations will fit your desired specialty.