How to Prepare a Written Project-Progress Report
The project-progress report is a project’s most common written business communication. The report reviews activities performed during a performance period, describes problems encountered and the corrective actions planned and taken, and previews plans for the next period.
The information here helps you identify the audience for your project-progress report, provides pointers on what to include in your report, and suggests how to keep that content interesting so it doesn’t put your team to sleep.
Making a list and checking it twice
A project-progress report is a convenient way to keep key audiences involved in your project and informed of their responsibilities. Decide who should get regularly scheduled project-progress reports by answering the following questions:
- Who needs to know about your project?
- Who wants to know about your project?
- Whom do you want to know about your project?
At a minimum, consider providing project-progress reports to your supervisor, upper management, the client or customer, project team members, and other people who are helping you on the project, as well as to people who are interested in or who will be affected by the project’s results.
Knowing what’s hot (and what’s not) in your report
Preparing the project-progress report gives you an opportunity to step back and review all aspects of your project so you can recognize accomplishments and identify situations that may require your early intervention. Be sure to include some or all of the following information in your project-progress report for each performance period:
- Performance highlights: Always begin your report with a summary of project highlights, such as “The planned upper-management review was successfully conducted on schedule” or “Our client Mary Fisher approved our training outline according to schedule.” (Just remember to keep it to one page!)
- Performance details: Describe the activities, outcomes, milestones, labor hours, and resource expenditures in detail. For consistency, identify each activity by its work breakdown structure (WBS) code.
- Problems and issues: Highlight special issues or problems that you encountered during the period and propose any necessary corrective actions.
- Approved changes to the plan: Report all approved changes to the existing project plan.
- Risk-management status: Update your project risk assessment by reporting on changes in project assumptions, the likelihood of these updated assumptions occurring, and the effect of those updated assumptions on existing project plans.
- Plans for the next period: Summarize major work and accomplishments that you have planned for the next performance period.
Although you can expand each section of information, depending on the nature of your project, remember that the longer the report is, the less likely your intended audience is to read and understand it.