Project status reporting is one element of the project controlling process and project governance. Its purpose is to ensure that the objectives of the project are being met by monitoring and measuring progress regularly to determine variances from the plan. When variances are identified, then corrective action can be taken.
There are a number of benefits of regular status reporting. A few of the more significant benefits are:
- It provides an opportunity to raise issues or variances from the plan and to take corrective action before a situation gets beyond recovery. It is possible that a situation cannot be recovered. However, at a minimum, the situation is identified and it does get reviewed.
- It helps to create accountability for the work being done. This happens because it makes the work more visible to all of the project stakeholders (i.e. project team members, Project Manager, Project Sponsor, and Senior Management).
- It creates a visible record of the progress of the project. The Project Manager or Senior Management can review this record should some of the history be needed.
Status Reporting Cycle
Regular status reporting is necessary in order to be effective. It helps to maintain traction and visibility for the project. The frequency of reporting is often a function of the duration of a project and its importance to an organization. For projects with a short duration (i.e. less than six months), it is better to have weekly reporting so that issues are raised and dealt with sooner. For projects with a longer duration, bi-weekly or monthly reporting may be more suitable or desirable.
Roles & Responsibilities
There are various roles and responsibilities in the status reporting process. The following list describes the most common ones:
- Monitors project progress and report progress regularly, using the Project Status Report form, to the Project Sponsor and Steering Committee/PMO.
- Escalates issues relating to scope, schedule, resources, and budget, when they cannot be resolved. The first escalation is to the Project Sponsor. If there is no resolution at that level then the final escalation is to the Steering Committee.
- Escalates proposed significant changes to scope, schedule, resources, and budget.
- Usually the senior manager representing the business area that is receiving the greatest benefit from the project.
- Ensures that Project Status Reports are received and reviewed regularly.
- Addresses issues when they cannot be resolved by the Project Team.
- Ensures that Project Status Reports are received regularly.
- Periodically reviews the Project Status Reports and follow up with Project Managers for clarification, as appropriate.
- Should consist of key stakeholders to he project, the project sponsor, and project owner
- Provides executive level support, guidance, and direction.
- Reviews progress of projects.
- Addresses issues relating to scope, schedule, resources, and budget, when escalated, if not resolvable via project manager or project sponsor.
Status Report Formats
There are many varying formats that can be used for project status reporting. The contents will depend on the rigor with which you are tracking the project, the frequency of reporting, and whether or not budget tracking is incorporated into the report, and if Earned Value is being reported.
At a minimum the status report should contain the following categories:
- Status Summary – Gives high level summary project state
- Project Progress – Progress made in the last reporting period. Would include key milestones met, key deliverables completed, budget and schedule tacking.
- Planned Progress – Identify any items to be completed during next reporting period.
- Risks/Issues – Any identified risks and issues along with the management plan to deal with specific risks/issues.
- Resources – It is always good to identify the current resourcing level on the project in the status report so that all stakeholders have an appreciation for the work level and resource requirements
- Budget – if required, the report should identify the current project budget to complete, budget used so far, planned budget so far, and explain any variances.
- Schedule – if required, the report should identify the current project schedule to complete, has the work completed so far been done on schedule, and explain any variances.
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