Whether you’re managing a small team or a large one spread across multiple different departments, communication is key to success. It’s essential that all team members – even individuals who aren’t in direct contact with one another – always know exactly who’s doing what, when to expect it and what they should be doing in response. Its why project status reports are such an important tool for modern businesses.
This article discusses the benefits of project status reports and offers advice on using status report templates effectively.
What Is a Status Report?
Project status reports are typically used in conjunction with project management software (i.e., Asana, Trello, or Zoho). This enables managers and team members to generate automated reports using infometrics logged as part of their daily and weekly tasks. Project status reports may also be compiled manually, but, in every case, the goal should be to generate a concise snapshot of how a project is progressing and how closely it aligns with the team’s original mission statement.
Status reports should be treated as dynamic documents and generated at every project milestone to ensure risks, rewards, expenses, deadlines, obstacles, and errors are communicated to stakeholders. That way, everybody knows if a project is on track to be a success or will need more planning and resources.
- The most important details to cover in a status report are:
- Which project tasks have been completed
- Which project tasks are in progress and/or due to be completed next
- The project’s expected budget and schedule
- Any obstacles or risks to the project and their solutions
What Is a Status Report Template?
Status report templates are useful because they allow team members to report in the same format without having to work closely together. They offer managers and employees a preformatted report guide with subheadings and prompts about what should be included. It speeds up the reporting process and ensures every piece of information is valuable to the stakeholders.
It’s also an easy way to ensure a team’s weekly and/or monthly progress reports are comparable. If the same template gets used every time, incomes, expenses, deadlines, and other quantitative figures can be directly compared to determine how much progress has been achieved between reports.
Status Report Templates & Examples
Benefits of Preparing a Status Report
The biggest benefit of a status report is it extracts the most important facts and figures from weeks or months of documents and presents them in one easy-to-read file. Here are some more benefits of using project status report templates:
- Keeps track of a project’s health: identifies and extracts only the most salient details needed to determine whether a project is proceeding successfully. Uses high-level summaries and key metrics to highlight weaknesses, strengths, and unexpected obstacles.
- Monitors a project’s progress: compares week-to-week and month-by-month project metrics and statistics to determine the rate of progress and whether a project is likely to be finished on time and to the stakeholder’s specifications.
- Reduces manual work: having one preformatted template for every report means it’s always clear what information is needed, how to present it, and what value it holds for stakeholders. Managers and team members can spend less time poring through department documents and more time focusing on their response to what the status report is telling them.
- Share next steps and action items: the concise nature of a status report means more time can be invested in a project’s next steps. If the report identifies any hold-ups, obstacles, or unwanted diversions, they can be quickly highlighted and used to resolve problems at an early stage.
- Fewer face-to-face meetings: studies suggest face-to-face status meetings are less effective than once thought. Collaborative status reports give team members the opportunity to respond in the most efficient and proactive way for them rather than forcing everybody to react immediately as a group.
Before You Report
Project status reports don’t have to be generated using project management software – you can create your own templates from scratch if you prefer – but the most successful businesses always use high-performance software. A comprehensive project management suite will do most of the reporting work on a team’s behalf by automatically extracting and compiling certain types of key data.
With project management software, you can:
- Provide all team members with a reliable source of project information and updates
- Use Gantt charts, tables, spreadsheets, and other metrics to represent key data
- Generate project status reports at the click of a button
- Gives team members a place to look for guidance on their next steps
- Includes all additional project information such as project plans, communication plans, deliverables, project deadlines, and more
- Creates an easy-to-read record of progress for a project’s stakeholders
Essential Elements of a Status Report Template
To ensure your status reports keep the entire team on track, always include the following key details:
Every new status report should include the name of the project, the name of the project’s manager, and the department(s) responsible for delivering it. Each report should also clearly state which resources have been used to achieve the progress detailed.
Every status report should be clearly dated (date of issue) and state the specific timeframe it covers. The name of the person who compiled and/or reviewed the report before issuing it should also be included.
A status report should include both a breakdown of milestones for the entire project (from beginning to end) and a reference to which specific milestones it is covering. Including both provides stakeholders with an easy way to see if the project is on track, ahead of schedule, or taking longer than expected.
An effective status report compares a project’s progress with its overarching project plan estimates. It should include a concise summary of the expected completion date and any forecasted costs. Make sure to include reference to project delays and any tasks that have turned out to be more complicated or costlier than predicted as well as how these problems might impact the project’s overall value. Explain what the team will do to resolve these complications and keep the project on track.
A good status report includes clear metrics for success. What these metrics are is up to you, provided all team members are aware of them and understand why they’re important for the report. For most companies, the cost is a key metric. For example, the measure of a project’s value might be judged in how far it surpasses or stays below a budget threshold. The report’s metrics should represent those aspects of the project’s effectiveness that are most essential for its success.
How to Write a Perfect Project Status Report (Step-By-Step)
Whether you’re using a project management tool or collating the project data manually, it’s important to pick a layout and format that can be used for all subsequent reports. All of the reports compiled for a single project should look and read the same, with only the content, metrics, and statistics appearing different. This increases the status reports’ comparability allowing team members to quickly determine how much progress has been made between one report and another.
Use these tips to compile a high-quality project status report:
Step 1 – Give Your Report a Clear, Logical Name
It might seem like an obvious place to begin, but you’d be surprised at how much time companies spend searching for misfiled documents. So before you start adding metrics and other details to your project status report, give the file a sensible name. Always remember to include a date in the title, so you know how old the report is.
For example: “March 2021 – Ad Campaign for New Soda”
Step 2 – Visualise the Project’s Health/Status
One of the first things that should appear on your status report is a clear visual summary of its health. The most common way to do this is with a color-coded system representing ON TARGET (green), SOME RISK (yellow), and OFF TARGET (red). You can use any visual indicator that you like so long as the stakeholders reading your report understand it within seconds. The point of starting with this project ‘health’ update is it serves as an instant breakdown of the report’s contents. Before the stakeholders begin reading, they already have a good idea of what to expect.
Step 3 – Include a 2-3 Sentence Summary
Directly beneath your project health update, add two to three sentences that sum up its significant points. Focus on concisely describing any major obstacles and their proposed solutions and/or any major successes or cost fluctuations.
For example: “Our survey data is currently under review. At this early stage, it looks like the department has achieved an 84% employee satisfaction rate which is a seven percent rise from last year’s report. The recently appointed Employee Engagement Committee has had successes with decreasing employee absences and getting more employees enrolled on the Career Progression track”.
Step 4 – Add High-Level Overviews of Key Areas
Depending on the nature of your project, its key areas might change from report to report or remain the same across all reports. For instance, agile projects are highly dynamic and continuously improving, so these status reports need key areas that vary. For something like an event planning project, however, many of the key features (guest speakers, decor, venue, catering, etc.) will remain unchanged no matter what type of event is being hosted.
For each key area included in your project status report, include three to five bullet points that describe its progress (so far), its primary successes, and any next steps.
65% of participants in the feedback panel rated the product ‘appealing’
57% of participants in the feedback panel said they would buy the product
13% of participants in the feedback panel said the product’s price was too high