Project managers are known for their ability to bring order to chaos, make the tough decisions, and manage time effectively in order to get a project from start to finish. Basically, they’re excellent organisers, communicators, problem solvers and leaders.
But there’s another side to the job that not all project managers feel prepared for, and that’s writing a project report. If you’re in a PM or management role and you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or uncertain as to what your project resort should look like, and what it should include, the good news is, we’ve got you covered.
Firstly, what is a project report?
A project report, or a project status report, is one of the most important aspects to a project manager’s job – almost as important as the project plan itself. The report is created to ensure the project stays on track by documenting all aspects of the project including a summary of the overall progress as well as budget updates, any potential risks or obstacles, and projections of what still needs to be done.
A project status report may be used to:
- Communicate the status of the project with all stakeholders
- Compile key information about different aspects of the project
- Give stakeholders the most up-to-date information so they can make better decisions
- Highlight the goals of the project
- Keep a record of all decisions made, resources used and milestones achieved
What makes a project report impressive and informative?
The organisation of information
Because there are various stakeholders in a project, each person will have different information that they will want to see in the report. But, bearing this in mind, your project report should always contain:
- Resources used and still needed
- Funding required how you’ve used the budget so far
- Timelines and future targets – are you on track or do certain elements require an extension?
- A summary of the team’s performance and contributions
- Any risks you foresee being an obstacle to the project’s success and completion
Organise this information into different sections so that’s easy for the readers to find the information that’s most relevant to them.
The Inclusion of data and the exclusion of opinions
Whether you are commenting on how your team has performed, or predicting the risks the project may encounter, make use of charts, spreadsheets and statistics to ensure your comments have credibility in the eyes of your clients. Data is also a key reporting feature if you need to justify lengthier timelines, bigger budgets or any changes to the project. And remember, the project report is not a space to share your personal opinions but rather a summary of facts.
It’s all in the details
Many people reading the project report may be clued up on certain aspects of the project but may have no idea about other areas. Write the report as if nobody understands what anything is about. Do not presume, for example, that when you’re speaking about the budget used for the purchasing of a giant food truck, that the person reading the report knows why a food truck was purchased or what part the food truck plays in the campaign.
This will ensure that you include as much detailed information as possible, leaving no room for misunderstanding or misinterpretations.
Include visual representation
There’s nothing worse than pages and pages of writing that seem to never end. And our guess is that the stakeholders involved in the project are probably already super busy, and don’t have the time or energy to pour over a text-only document. Visuals are a great solution for drawing the reader’s eye to the sections that are most relevant to them. Whether you use stock images, illustrated statistics, questions or facts, or different colour fonts, visuals can help emphasise the points you are trying to make in the report.
Feeling more confident about writing your next project report?
We’ve gone ahead and designed a free project report template to help you get started.