Project reporting and communication is key to the success of your project. The status report should provide all stakeholders with a useful update on the current position of the project without too much detail but enough to highlight points of interest or concern.
Highlight reports can often be over kill and in a world of increasing amounts of data fired at us all every day they are more and more likely to be skim read at best.
Status reporting should be brief and punchy, ideally one page only, this allows quick review and focus on key points. Many organisations are still locked into producing a paper base report; status report templates are often based around a printed page and A4 or in some case A3 in size. But do we really need to continue to be locked into paper formats and why do we need to print these items at all.
The weekly status report should be less of an overhead for project management, good control and use of systems should enable a high level of automation, ideally leading to a status report formatted and produced in seconds from the active data the project is already managing. If you are chasing up this data each week, then is the project truly under control?
Most if not all business people have smart phones and tablets, as well as an array of other devices that have increasing capability to display information, so the technical challenges of reporting are reducing all the time. The core challenge is people and behaviors: – your sponsor, stakeholders and even the project team need to be comfortable that status reporting provides what they need. All the busy senior stakeholders as an ideal need to have updates that take a minimum amount of time for a maximum amount of information.
With the use of good technical solutions there is no reason why project reporting cannot be dynamic; this would require that project plans and other information is kept up to day but would remove the need to issue formal reports. Exceptions triggers can be agreed with project board, steering committees and any other necessary governance bodies, people receiving reports or status information will see them in real time and will still need to adjust to a changed way of receiving data and using the information provided.
I believe reporting will become more visual and graphic in the coming years, the proper use of the data provided should enable managers to focus on the things that matter and discourage micro management.
We as a group have helped a number of organisations improve reporting, reducing the time to produce reports and enabling different reporting platforms such as mobiles and tablets.