A reporting system is a key process in any organization and for every kind of project.
The information is used to provide all interested parties with information about the status of the project and is of course also used to make decisions.
Thus it is essential that the accounting and reporting system in project management is accurate at every stage.
Reporting may not be the most exciting part of a project manager’s work, but it helps to ensure that projects stay on track and end according to plan.
Types of reporting in project management
Project reporting means much more than just communicating the latest project updates to the team and stakeholders.
You can use project reports to mitigate risk, monitor budget and schedule and create more accurate project plans.
Here are some project reports that may prove valuable to a project manager:
- Resource availability report
- Project status report
- Project health report
- Risk assessment
- Project baseline
Resource availability report
To build an accurate project plan, a project manager needs to know what resources are available to perform the work and for how long they will be available.
Furthermore, this report shows the amount of work that each team member accomplishes (and can accomplish) in their time available for the project. This allows the project manager to make weighted decisions about activity distribution.
Project status report
A weekly project status report is an easy way to keep the team and stakeholders informed and handle expectations as the project progresses.
Generally speaking, this report shows these results:
- Completed activities
- Activities under completion
- Incoming activities
- Overall project completion
- Spent/available budget
- Project risks or problems
This report does not necessarily need to get into too much detail and often it is enough to write a page with key information to learn the trend of the project.
In case stakeholders need more specific information, a meeting or a series of documents can be arranged.
Project health report
This kind of health status report provides a high quality view of a project’s status.
It is ideal for immediate sharing during meetings with the team and stakeholders, so that everyone knows at a glance which activities are on schedule, which are running against the clock and which – unfortunately – have already exceeded the deadline.
For example, the project can simply be split into 3 different levels of health status and, for an even stronger impact, with 3 different colors.
Here are the ones:
- Activities in progress marked in green: activities that are in advance or meet the deadline.
- Activities running behind the schedule marked in yellow: activities where there is still some time left until the deadline but in which case, if the current rhythm is maintained, it will be difficult to respect it.
- Late activities marked in red: those activities that have missed the deadline and require special attention in order to avoid that the traps prevent the regular continuation of the whole project.
A risk assessment helps to identify and categorize project risks according to their magnitude and likelihood of occurrence.
A baseline report compares the original and initially planned timeline with the actual project timeline to determine which activities were performed on time or ahead of schedule and which were delayed.
Best practices for project reporting system management
Here are a series of suggestions that will make the management of the reporting system in projects more effective:
- Set a deadline: a schedule in the reporting system fixes regular deadlines so that everyone knows when to expect and/or provide important updates on the project.
- Pay attention to the data: a report is only as good as the information it provides. Verifying that project details are up to date and correct before sharing reports with customers and stakeholders is essential.
- Writing with your audience in mind: team members, clients and stakeholders should not get lost in the details of the project (unless the purpose of the report is precisely that). Generally speaking, reports are brief, with bulleted and schematic lists and without the presence of technical terminology.
- Add graphic elements: an image is worth a thousand words and visual project management specialists are well aware of this. The use of diagrams and graphs when possible will make a report easier to assimilate.
- Be honest: if the project is late or over budgeting, don’t hesitate to mention it in the report. The sooner a problem emerges, the sooner it can be solved.
- Encourage sharing: a project report should be a launching pad for dialogue, not a static document carved in stone. This is how it becomes essential to create a space for feedback on the project and constructive discussions so that everyone agrees on the next steps to take.
Ultimately, an efficient reporting system is crucial for project activities execution.
Simply put, unless the organization uses an adequate reporting system, the project team and stakeholders won’t be able to know the full details of the project.