Project Progress Reports
What is a Project Progress Report?
Project progress (or status) reports are just that: reports that detail progress that has been made on a project. They typically outline what work has been finished, what milestones have been met (or not), what difficulties have been met (including new risks), and what costs and man hour usage have been incurred so far. Progress reports serve two purposes: to ensure interested parties (e.g. key stakeholders) that the project is on track and to highlight problem areas so that remedial action can be targeted.
Progress reports can cover many different aspects of a project. They may report on just one aspect of the project, or on the progress of the project as a whole.
Some general guidelines that inform writing good progress reports include:
- knowing the intended audience: this will influence what is said and the way information is conveyed (e.g. detailed written report, an Executive Summary only, exception reports, regular verbal reports)
- keeping to the topic: those involved in delivering a project (directly or indirectly) are invariably busy people. They do not want to wade through information that is not pertinent to a statement of project progress. It is important to be concise.
- ensuring that any critically important information is not reported for the first time: if a matter is sufficiently important, the Project Manager should first alert key stakeholders by other means; the progress report simply reiterates it.
- setting out reports in the same style: preparing progress reports in the same style (e.g. perhaps using a template) helps to familiarise readers with their structure and in knowing where to look for specific information. It also makes it easier to compare one report with another.
- meeting deadlines for delivery of reports: progress reports that are delivered erratically do not serve good management of a project. Besides, this risks some adverse facet of the project’s progress being overlooked before it is too late to properly rectify. The reports should be provided regularly throughout the course of a project. (The regularity is generally agreed during a project’s initiation phase.)
A typical progress report
Progress reports are prepared for many different reasons and audiences. But a typical written report will include:
- an introduction, which provides a broad outline of the project as a whole, and outlines the broad issues to be discussed
- a date, so readers have a time context for the information
- sections with headings, each detailing with particular aspects of the report. These sections will cover items such as:
– where the project is at, in terms of progress against baseline measures for time, cost, scope, quality and resource use
– what has happened of significance since the last project report (e.g. new problems, new risks identified, changes in personnel, key milestones met or missed, external events having an impact on the project and so on)
- recommendations for proposed action or advice on decisions that have been taken that will impact on the project (together with any forecast time, cost, quality, scope or resourcing implications).
For more information on progress reports, view:
To view an audio-visual presentation on progress (status reports, view: