I really love project reports.
They tell so much of a story.
(a) The Project Manager doesn’t understand what’s going on aka no reporting
“This story is all about me (as the business owner or sponsor) not actually receiving any regular project reporting. Why, because my PM has no idea what is happening, nor how to produce a report that will show me what’s happening.”
This is a big problem for your business owner/sponsor. They need to have a snapshot of the projects progress, after all they are the ones who have supported the expenditure to undertake the project; they are the beneficiaries of the project. They have right to know what is happening.
(b) The Project Manager provides War and Peace
The PM is so caught up in the minute detail of the project that they bore not only the business owner/sponsor but the whole PCB with too much detail. This level of management want information that is succinct and to the point. They want the key high level view of where the project is at – traffic lights for the key areas – on track for delivery against schedule, in scope, and on budget; top risks and mitigation strategies highlighted; financial tracking shown; and you might list key achievements for the past reporting period and what is planned for delivery in the next period.
This should be no more than a few pages in length. Keep it snappy and to the point. Your audience can always ask for further detailed information if they want it.
(c) The Project Manager’s a greenie
This PM loves only the colour green. All of the traffic lights are always green, there is no other colour for them. From their projects perspective all of the traffic lights might in reality be red, but they will still show them as green, because they don’t want to show that there are problems with the project. Big Problem! This is not doing the PM any favours at all, and it certainly isn’t of value to the project sponsor or business owner.
You, as a PM do yourself a disservice if you do this, as you will very quickly loose the trust of your PCB. Strongly consider your reputation. It is not worth being dishonest.
(d) You need a magnifying glass to read the report (a different version of a greenie PM)
This PM decides that everything needs to fit on one page to save paper, so whilst the material fits into the value add bucket, that fact that it is all crammed onto one page, makes it next to useless. This also doesn’t add to the PMs credibility. Let your sponsor and business owner, PCB read how well you’re doing. Don’t try to cram everything onto one page, unless there is enough white space on the page to still make the report readable.
Make your reporting worthwhile
If you are going to add value as the PM, produce a project report on a regular basis. Make it readable, and valuable as a communication piece. Show the detail that is required by the PCB members. Ask them what information they want. Trim it down. Provide further information via other mediums for specific PCB members, if they really want more details. Ensure that you can answer questions around the details behind the report if you are asked.
Road test what you’ve produced on your business owner before taking it to the PCB. Remember, your reputation and credibility as a PM is on view via this report.
Written by Karen Munro