A status report is a simple document that exists between the project manager, the client and the internal team to periodically update everyone as to where the project is in relation to where it should be at that point in time. Below, I’m going to cover a few of the key benefits of using a status report, but if you just need a template then skip to the download link.
A while ago I searched for a status report template online to find out what other project managers saw as important items to cover. Trawling through the first page of companies trying to sell expensive software made me give up quickly… Whilst some might not see the status report as essential to a project (since you’re obviously speaking to your client regularly), even on the smallest project they can really help keep scope, timings and budget on track. Sam Barnes has written a great article extolling the virtues of the status report on his site and as such I don’t want to cover old ground, so I’ve just written a brief summary on a few key points.
When you’re managing a large project with multiple stakeholders, status reports are a useful tool to focus everyone on the same issues every week. You can highlight actions for specific stakeholders in one central place and give everyone on the project sight of this.
If there are any slippages in terms of timings, or issues that will affect the budget, the status report is a great place to highlight them and draw them to the attention of the stakeholders. Although never use them to give bad news! It’s also a way to make sure that you, as the PM, are regularly checking the current status against the original quote or plan.
Summarising key decisions, progress and future actions every week of your project, means that there is a record of what, and when, things have happened throughout. As a PM we often are the central point in a project, so probably know the most in terms of what is happening overall. If you are off sick, out of the office or on holiday, other people can pick up the project much easier if they have a reference point to check.
The bigger picture
Leading on from the last point—the status report is also useful to highlight the status of the project to your internal team by sending it to them, or at least by pointing them in the right direction of where it is stored. That way, they don’t just focus on their specific part of the project (be that design, front-end development, or UX for example) but have sight and knowledge of the project as a whole.
So what constitutes a good status report? It needs to address:
- The current status of a project (obvious, I know).
- The recent progress.
- Key decisions that have been made.
- Actions to be taken.
- What the effects of the above are on the overall project.
On recent projects, I set up a status report template for my clients:
So I’d be really interested in getting other people’s opinions. Does it cover the main points or need more? Or do you think it could be cut down? Leave a comment and let me know!