8 Must-Have Project Reports You Can Use Today
Project reports are extremely valuable. Some even say they're indispensable, which is what makes them so important to have in your toolbox. Read more here.
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Knowing exactly what state your project is in is important.
You'll need to report on the progress of each assignment and summarize what's been completed so far. You should start keeping track of these as soon as you begin planning any project because chances are, you'll forget something or think of something completely different by the time the task is finished. If everything goes according to plan, then great! However, chances are good that you'll miss a deadline or a small detail will turn out to be more complicated than expected.
By working with the information below, you'll be able to create a project status report that will help keep everyone informed about your team's progress and allow them to make decisions accordingly. Here are the 8 best project management reports to help you get started:
1. Project Progress Report
This is the most common type of status report, and it's essential to project management. Progress reports are used to provide stakeholders with an update on where a project is currently. They are also used to describe the work done during a certain period, list problems that have arisen, and give additional information about upcoming project activities.
A good project progress report would include:
- Project name and status (new/ongoing)
- Project start date
- Project end date (if known)
- Period covered by this report (for example, from January 1 - January 7)
- Status summary: This should be a high-level overview of where things stand in the project right now. It should answer questions such as: Is the project on schedule? Are all the deadlines being met? What works were completed in this reporting period, and what remains unfinished?
2. Milestone Progress Report
A good one of these reports will give you a clear overview of the status of your project for a particular point in time or a specific milestone, and:
- Include all relevant information
- Present data and metrics using visualizations
- Include a timeline with milestones and the current project status
- Include the project goal, and the summary of project status thus far
- Include a list of open issues, their owners, and due dates (if applicable)
- List next steps for further progress
- List risks that could derail project progress or thwart the successful completion of a milestone
3. Project Summary Report
This type of report concentrates on specific metrics and provides details on the project schedule and budget, a summary of overall goals, and progress toward meeting those goals. A project summary report is a document that contains a project overview, including information about the project's goals, team, risks, budget, and progress.
It is used to communicate to management and stakeholders how the project is doing. A project summary report is a summary of an entire project.
You can use this type of report to get stakeholder buy-in and approval for changes in scope or budget.
4. Project Action Items Report
This status report defines what must be done to complete the project, how each task is executed, and by whom.
Before you can start reaching your fitness goals, you need to know how to define realistic ones. Many people start with a vague goal like “get in shape” or “lose weight.” While these are good places to start, they're not very helpful in actually moving forward.
A better approach is to focus on the specific results you want, instead of just a general category.
- Instead of saying “I want to lose weight,” say something like “I'm going to fit into my favorite pair of pants again by [date].”
- If your goal is running a 5K race next spring, an effective way of phrasing it might be: “I'm going to finish that 5K in [time] by [date].”
In a more specific example: My running goal for the summer was completing a 10-kilometer race in under 55 minutes. If I had set my sights any higher (like achieving 50 minutes), I would've gotten discouraged when it didn't happen right away.
As I got closer and closer each week before the race date finally arrived though—and surpassed my original time limit!—my confidence soared and now I feel like nothing is stopping me from pursuing even loftier goals.
5. Issue Tracking Report
An issue tracking report provides a list of issues, who's been assigned to fix them, their current status, and any other information needed to solve them. This report is important because it allows you to track the issues and report on their progress. You can prioritize the issues and check whether they are resolved. It helps you identify and record issues so your team has a clear view of what is going on at each moment in time.
6. Risks Management Report
These reports present the risk level of all major components of the project, as well as any actions being taken to prevent or mitigate those risks. When assessing risks, you must take into account the likelihood of the risk occurring, as well as its consequences if it does occur.
For instance, a risk that has a very high chance of occurring but will have little or no negative effect on the project may not be worth worrying about or mentioning in the report. However, you'll want to pay close attention to any single risk that has a high probability of causing significant damage to your project or organization.
You can weigh different factors to assess how severe they are. For example, assigning a weighting factor of 1 to risks with minimal impact and 5 to those that would cause major problems. If a given risk was likely to happen and could cause minor damage, it would be given a rating (or priority) of 4 (1 x 4 = 4). If it had an extremely low chance of happening but could result in devastating consequences if it did occur, it would be given a priority rating of 2 (5 x .25 = 1.25 rounded up to 2).
7. Earned Value Status Report
These reports compare actual costs versus predicted costs at specific points in time. They also compare planned work against accomplished work at specific milestones in the project timeline.
There are many things you can do to help keep a project budget under control. First, stick to the schedule. This is easier said than done, of course, but with a little discipline on the part of everyone involved it's possible to meet the deadline and still have time for an earned value status report (EVSR), which will help you ensure that your project is on track and not over budget.
The other thing you can do is start early and be conservative in your estimates. The earned value status report has all the information that you need—work that has been completed, work that remains to be done, time remaining until completion, costs for this work in money—to tell you where you stand as far as costs are concerned.
8. Monthly Program Status Report (MPSR):
These reports are comprehensive summaries of large programs with multiple projects or just a single large project. They show how each sub-project contributes to the larger program's progress. It can be used for a single, large project or multiple projects within the same program.
This report can be very comprehensive, so it's important to keep your audience and stakeholders in mind when compiling information.
Whether you're trying to keep your entire team on track or just trying to make sure you don't forget anything, these reports will serve their purposes.
If you're like me and you work on various projects at any given time, you'll also find that having a reporting structure like this one in place will help keep things more organized as well—since you'll have all the information available at your disposal, work can proceed more easily and smoothly.
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