The all-important project status report captures a multitude of items. Dates are updated. For activities at risk, maybe status indicator colors are changed from “green” to “red”. Completion of high level project tasks are documented. Issues and decision might be noted. Perhaps a narrative description of what has occurred and a future statement of what is being planned.
The previous descriptions are just a few of the basic activities project managers are required to document when creating a weekly or bi-weekly project status report. But what really is the purpose of a status report and who is the audience.
Going beyond the general purpose and intended audience and looking from the project manager’s perspective, the real purpose of the status report is about showcasing results. The report is a declaration of accomplishments. Just as miles are marked by runners in a marathon the status report marks the progress of the project team and the work that has been achieved. Project deliverables are the marathon’s “finish line” and for those who are not directly involved in the day to day project work, it can be difficult to see results. The status reports display results continuously, minor or major, significant or small.
The status report can also be used as a resource for an organization’s lesson learned. A project manager can look at similar projects which have closed and see what and when activities were completed and what factors influenced a positive or negative outcome. By reviewing closed project status reports, the project manager can learn what went right and what went wrong but more importantly is when did those factors happen in the project life cycle.
Status reports are the most common and widely used tool on projects but too often the status report can be viewed as just another weekly or bi-weekly task to complete or just another form that needs to be filled out. The status report is a valuable tool to showcase the project team and project work and an import project asset not only for the current project but for similar projects in the future.