Project status updates are a key part of effective communication between businesses and their clients. By keeping everyone updated on the project’s progress, businesses can improve transparency and build trust with their clients.
It’s not just the business-client relationship that is affected though. Concise project status tracking can help teams to stay on the same page, improving collaboration and delivery.
There are several ways to go about creating project status updates. Some businesses send out regular reports, while others post updates online or in an intranet system.
However, businesses should tailor their approach to fit the specific project and audience. The most important thing is to ensure that the updates are clear, concise, and timely.
Still not sure what a project management status report looks like, or how to create one? You’ve come to the right place.
What are project status updates?
A project status update is simply a report on the current state of a project. It answers key questions such as:
- What work has been completed?
- What work is currently in progress?
- What are the next steps?
Importantly, project status updates should also include any risks or issues that could impact delivery. By being upfront about potential problems, businesses can again build trust with their clients.
Though they all overlap, there are a few different project status definitions:
This type of status update is shared with project team members only. It covers what’s been completed, what’s in progress, and anything that’s blocking progress. This can sometimes be referred to as a product backlog and would include things like:
- User stories: A short description of an incoming feature from the user’s perspective.
- Bugs: Any errors or unexpected behavior that needs to be fixed.
- Tasks: Small, actionable items that need to be completed.
This low level of detail is important for project managers and developers who need to track progress, but it’s not necessary (or even desirable) for everyone on the team. Too much detail can lead to information overload and make it difficult to identify what’s truly important.
On the other hand, external progress updates are meant for clients or other stakeholders who are not directly involved in the project. These updates should be high-level and focus on the big picture. For example, you might include:
- The project’s current phase
- A list of what’s been completed
- Any major milestones that have been reached
- An estimated timeline for the remaining work
This information is helpful for decision-makers who need to understand how the project is progressing but don’t need (or want) to get into the nitty-gritty details. The broader timeline view for deliverables is also helpful for budgeting and planning purposes.
As the name suggests, an executive summary is a brief overview of the most important points in a document. In the context of project status updates, this means providing a high-level overview of the project’s progress and achievements. This could include:
- The project’s current status
- What’s been completed
- Major accomplishments
- Any risks or issues that have arisen
- A timeline for upcoming work
This information is helpful for executives or other high-level stakeholders who need to be kept up-to-date on the project but don’t have time to read through a long, detailed report.
It is typically presented in a visually appealing way, such as with charts and graphs. The goal is to give the reader a clear understanding of the project’s progress without overwhelming them with too many details.
What are the benefits of project status updates?
There are several benefits that businesses can enjoy by implementing project status updates:
By sharing regular updates on the project’s progress, businesses can improve communication with their clients. This increased transparency builds trust and helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
For example, if there are any incoming delays, businesses can explain why and provide an updated timeline.
Status updates can also help teams to stay better organized and aligned. By sharing information on what’s been completed, what’s in progress, and any blockers, team members can more easily collaborate and take ownership of different parts of the project.
Another key benefit of project status updates is that they can help to increase productivity. By keeping everyone informed and up-to-date, businesses can avoid unnecessary delays and rework, or remove any necessary tasks before they are even started.
Finally, regular status updates can also help businesses to make better decisions about the project. By understanding what’s been accomplished and what’s still left to do, businesses can better prioritize their resources and make sure that the project is on track.
How can they improve delivery?
The biggest benefit perhaps is felt in improved delivery, as project status updates make it easier to track progress and spot issues early on. This is especially true when everyone involved has visibility into the same project status dashboard.
Another way that project status updates can improve delivery is by promoting transparency and building trust between businesses and their clients. When clients are kept in the loop with regular reports, they’re more likely to be satisfied with the final product.
Finally, clear and concise project tracking can help team members stay on the same page, which is essential for successful delivery. When everyone knows what needs to be done and when it needs to be done, they can more easily collaborate and work together to get the job done.
How do you create a project status report?
Though this will be a process specific to every project and business, there are a handful of things that need to be included in every status report. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating an effective project management status report:
1. Define the purpose of the report
What is the critical information that needs to be conveyed, and what is it trying to accomplish? Is it just a summary of project progress, or is it meant to drive decision-making?
2. Choose the right format
Status reports can take many different forms, from a simple email to an in-depth PowerPoint presentation. The format should be based on the needs of the audience and the amount of information that needs to be conveyed.
3. Gather data and inputs
To create a status report, you’ll need input from various team members and stakeholders. Make sure to give everyone enough time to provide their input before putting the report together.
4. Write a clear and concise summary
The goal of a status report is to communicate information succinctly. Be clear and to the point in your writing, and avoid using jargon or technical terms that might not be understood by everyone.
5. Use visual elements
In addition to writing a clear summary, you should also include visual elements like graphs and charts to help illustrate key points. This can be especially helpful in conveying complex information.
6. Share the report with stakeholders and gather feedback
Once the report is complete, it’s important to share it with the relevant stakeholders and get their feedback. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the information in the report is accurate.
7. Make changes based on feedback
After gathering feedback, you may need to make some changes to the report before finalizing it. This step is important to ensure that your status reports are effective and meet the needs of your audience.
Status reports should be created regularly, typically at the end of each week or month. This will ensure that everyone involved in the project has the most up-to-date information and can make any necessary decisions promptly.
Things to watch out for
If you follow that guide, you’re already going to be moving forward in the right direction. But there are still some common mistakes that companies make every day when it comes to communicating the status of a project. Such as:
- Over-communicating: One of the most common mistakes is sending out too many status reports. This can overwhelm stakeholders and make it difficult to track the project’s progress. Make sure you only send out reports when there is new or important information to share.
- Under-communicating: On the other hand, some companies don’t communicate enough about their project’s status. This can leave stakeholders in the dark and cause them to lose faith in the company’s ability to deliver. Make sure you strike the right balance in terms of frequency and volume.
- Lack of clarity: Status reports should be clear and concise. But all too often, they’re filled with jargon and technical terms that only confuse the reader. Take the time to explain things in plain language, and use visuals to help illustrate key points.
- Inconsistency: It’s important to be consistent when sending out project status updates. This means sending them out at the same time every week or month, using the same format, and including the same type of information. This will help stakeholders to track the project’s progress and make it easier to compare reports.
- Late delivery: Timeliness is critical when it comes to project status updates. If you’re constantly sending out reports late, stakeholders will lose faith in your ability to deliver on your promises. Make sure you allow enough time to put together a quality report and send it out as soon as it’s ready.
If you can avoid some of these pitfalls and create effective project status reports, you’ll be well on your way to improving communication and delivery in your business.