Project status reports: why bother?

Updated: Jan 14, 2019


Illustration by Angeline Veeneman, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Project Status Reports are the cornerstone of project performance reporting, yet are seldom well written, and even less often well understood. Whilst Project Managers may diligently (and painstakingly) produce their status reports on a regular basis, many reports end up sitting idly in someone’s already crowded inbox (when they don’t make their way directly to the trash can). So why should you bother putting a (good) status report together in the first place? Here are 4 reasons:


1) Because you are worth it…


Your status report is to your project what the front page is to a newspaper: it is there to provide the latest headlines and news on what’s going on and tell people what they should care about right now. By extension, it also reflects on its author’s competence at being on top of things; the status report is to the PM what a CV is to a job seeker: write it poorly, laden with inaccuracies and mistruths, not only will it get you nowhere, but it can definitely make you look bad! Bad status reports (or none) can quickly spell lousy (or lazy) project manager. So do yourself a favour and get good status reports out.


2) Because it’s all about the customer…


Status reports are there to help your stakeholders, your customers, your team, to understand where the project is at and how well it is doing. It’s a direct communication channel for you to connect with people: it’s a way to instill confidence, create visibility and generate support for your project. It’s about telling your customers you care.


3) Because you need to keep the boss(es) happy…


Yes, status reporting is about management reporting and that’s ok… as long as it is helpful to the project. Reporting for the sake of it just consumes time, but if it leads to securing support and getting decisions made, then it’s actually doing the job it’s meant to. It’s a way to bring things to attention as well as providing confidence that the project is carefully managed.


4) Because it actually helps you (yes, you!) manage the project…


Producing a status report may take some time, but don’t see it as an administrative burden that you have to do because you have been told to do so (by your boss, PMI, or a blog on project communications…). Do it because it helps you focus on the essentials: going through the regular process of articulating clearly and simply how things are going forces you to focus on what is important, identify priorities and decide where you need help. It doesn’t stop there: your status report can help you execute a whole range of project management activities, from simply informing others to providing a mean to get updates from your team & reinforcing accountabilities, supporting team meetings, engaging a wider audience, and answering ad hoc requests for information about your project.

© 2018 by Maysix Consulting.