A 40 hour week in 60 minutes – The Status Report

In college, during a project management class, the instructor was looking for 2 volunteers to act as scribes and present an executive level status report of the course being taught that day. When we met the following week each of us had a 5-page document that covered every aspect of the previous class in great detail. The detail part is a superb quality for a project manager but the instructor actually went around the class, collecting everyone’s copy of the report and promptly dropped it into the recycle bin.

The moral of the story was clear to us: Most people do not have enough time to read what is already on their desk so, why clutter their “To Do” list with a 5-page thesis.

A project status report must be brief yet should convey the overall health of your project to the decision makers involved on your project. The core contents of such a report are agreed upon before you “officially” kick-off your project and the project sponsor from both sides of the table have input on what will add value to the report.

What I include:

Project Financial Health: A simple financial burn-down chart showing the budget to actual that is represented by a comparative histogram and color coded based on how close or over you might be to the budget baseline. This always triggers a healthy discussion on possible reasons for budget overruns and leads to identifying solutions.

Issues and Risks: No one wants to hear that there are issues on the project. But anyone that has worked on even the smallest or easiest of projects knows that issues/risks are an inherent part of projects. Therefore, it is critical that these 2 items be listed on every status report because more likely than not issues/risks will have a bearing on your project’s triple constraints.

Milestones accomplished: A little pat on the back each week is a good idea. So I always feel the need to share accomplishments with the team via the status report and this way the broader audience is aware of these accomplishments

Milestones to be accomplished: To me the “to be accomplished” piece is far more than what was accomplished and after talking about issues/risk this is the next most talked about item.

Change Orders: All change orders associated with the primary project are listed on the status report because this gives everyone involved a Birdseye view of what changes we’ve implemented against the original project requirements and what additional spend was made towards the budget baseline.

Project Schedule: There is a timeline to every project and is a supporting document to the status report. What I like to incorporate into the status report is only the rolled up milestones. This gives the readers only a high-level view of where you are today and what items on the milestone list can possibly delay the project.

As a project manager, YOU have to constantly provide quality status reports to bring clarity from confusion. Therefore, if Executive Management asking YOU for status then either you are not sending it to the right people, you are not sending it often enough, or you are not sending a good status report and I know that on occasion I have been guilty of at least 1 of these.

AMIT TRASI | Project Manager

Amit is responsible for institutionalizing project management governance at KTL to streamline ERP implementations. With over 15 years of technology experience as a software developer, project manager, and program manager, Amit has managed end-to-end ERP implementations with Dynamics NAV and GP as well as POS implementation with e-Commerce front end. He holds extensive experience deploying POS and ERP applications at non-profits, theme parks, and museums across the United States. Amit joined KTL in October of 2013 and holds an MBA in Information Systems as well as holding a Project Management Professional certificate.

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