Guideline: how to report project performance
Reporting the project performance is to review the project progress against expected milestones, timelines and costs. The purpose of reporting is to share the information required to manage issues and Manage CSSQ (Cost, Scope, Schedule, and Quality). It is functional to the objective of delivering the project outputs with the expected quality and within the time and cost constrains defined in the project plan document.
Seven Areas a Status Report should Track
- Schedule and scope status
- Major Issues / Challenges
- Highlights / Achievements (Quality of interim/final deliverables)
- Risks (new risks or changes in the risks identified earlier)
- Spending (versus the planned amounts)
- Staff effort (versus the planned time)
- Changes to the plan
Attention: do not confuse reviewing employee performance with project performance! When monitoring and reporting the employee performance you are comparing
- what the individual employee has achieved and
- what the individual was supposed to achieve (on the basis of the agreed employee performance objectives.
When monitoring and reporting the project performance you are comparing:
- what the team implementing a project plan has achieved (in terms of reaching the expected milestones and deliver the expected project outputs within the decided schedule and budget definitions) and
- the expected achievements as stated in the project plan document.
As the project manager, you are ultimately responsible for project performance. When things are going great, how can you document and show progress and reassure management? When the project hits the inevitable bumps in the road, how do you explain the project being off schedule or over budget?
Managing a project is like driving down a road: The farther ahead you can see, the better you can prepare for bumps and roadblocks. You might even be able to avoid problems by getting the right information in time. The same is true when you're running a project. You need to find or anticipate problems early in the project, while there's still time to correct or avoid them. Using these templates can help improve your view of the project, where it's headed, and where it's been.
Why Status Reports? Communicating about the status of your project is one of the most important components of project management. It will help you realistically allocate your time and resources, to strengthen control over the project, and free you up to manage. Reviewing the current status allows you and your team members to track the progress of the project against the project plan and determining what you need to do if something is going wrong.
Keep It Short Length of the status report depends on complexity and audience. When developing the report content, don't make the common mistake of trying to include in the status report everything about the project that anyone might want to know. You are targeting a busy audience, so keep it practical. Communicate the key information quickly so project team and supervisors had more time for solving problems and moving your project ahead.
Content of a Status Report The content of each report should be specific to the audience receiving it. Use a fill-in-the-form approach as a document designed to present information in sections is far more useful to the reader. It will also help you to eliminate repetition and communicate more information in fewer words.
Project Status Meetings Despite their value, e-communication tools such as virtual meetings, e-mails, and visibility rooms can not substitute for face-to-face status meetings or one-one-one communication. Communication happens in many ways - actually, the content itself makes only 7% of the message received by your prospect, while the way it looks and sounds makes the "remaining" 93%.
Issues Log issues separately as they arise. Then list them out in the project status report. (see Manage Issues)
Risks Record project risks in the Risk Log separately as they arise. If a risk does not happen, there is no data to report. However, an increase in the number and priority of risks might indicate that your project is heading for trouble. Schedule a review of your project when the number of risks or issues rises. (see Monitor and Manage Risks)