How to Write Effective Project Reports


hello i'm jennifer whitt director of

projectmanager.com welcome to our

whiteboard session today on how to write

effective project reports many times

when I talk with project managers they

feel like writing reports is a waste of

time it can be it can be if they're

ineffective reports so when I'm meeting

with executives executives many times

are looking for information about the

projects their portfolios they want to

know what's going on on the project same

thing for project team members project

team members are many times waiting on

deliverables or information from other

team members and they need to know so

these reports if done in a right way

in an effective way and useful to other

people it is worth the time let's take a

look so what I like to do is start with

definitions of words so if you go to

Google or look up any in any of your

sources the word effective what it means

is it's an adjective and it means

successful in producing a desired or

attended result so what would a result

be in the project world well it could be

information it could be a status it

could be decisions it could be other

things but those are just something to

name a few so what type of project

reports are we looking at so if you look

in your communications plan we want to

document several these are five of the

ones we think are some of the most

important ones not the exhaustive list

but the top five so the project status

report the portfolio report resource

resource workload timesheets and

expenses so for each of these we want to

know who gets the report when do they

get it how did they get it do they get

it by email do they get a paper and then

what is the result from these reports so

from the project status report what is

the result that you're looking for you

want to communicate status where you are

on the project if things are red yellow

and green the portfolio you want to

identify the different projects in the

portfolio and where they stand where

there may be some roadblocks or some

issues the resource workload you may

want to show where you may have

some gaps for resources to be reassigned

you may have some resources that are

overloaded the timesheets you want to

make sure that the time being tracked is

within the budget allowed and expenses

again looking to make sure the expenses

are within the budget maybe where you've

exceeded some things so you're looking

at these reports and the results so what

are some best practices that we found so

we found some of the best practices are

think through the result so if you're

looking for effective project reports

and the definition of effective so we're

looking at results so think through what

it is that you want to know and make

sure that you communicate that if it's a

decision that needs to be made it needs

to be clear that you're providing

information and you're seeking a

decision if you're just providing

information about the project be clear

that it's just informational so let

people know what it is what the result

that you're looking for so in the end

everyone has that result number two be

brief less really is more on in these

reports you don't have to drawn on and

on if you identify the the report and

its purpose or intent then you just

merely identified that information in

that report number three validate the

information I can't tell you how many

reports that I've received or audited

and to find out the information in the

report is not even valid so the project

manager needs to validate or have

someone on the team validate the

accuracy of the information in the

report that's one sure way a project

manager can lose credibility right away

by producing reports that with invalid

information number four use templates we

don't have to reinvent the wheel the

ideal thing is to get a template for

each of these reports for your projects

find out from your stakeholders what

information they need in these reports

and build a template so you're just

modifying the template it's a sure way

to save time and effort number five we

want to verify the value by checking

with the recipients of these reports

make sure they're helpful if you find

that the people on your team aren't

reading these reports they're not


to you they're just deleting them then I

can tell you they're not worth value but

the way you can get him in but according

to value is ask them verify validate

what the people need to know and then

tailor those reports for that number six

consistent making sure these reports are

consistent they're relevant in the

reliable so by sending out your reports

in a consistent basis based on your

communication plan making sure it's

relevant to the appropriate people

making sure executives get executive

level reports your team members get the

detailed information they need your

stakeholders and change Control Board

get the information that's relevant to

them they don't want to read everything

they don't have the time so if you're

sending them things that they don't need

they for sure are just deleting them and

making sure it's reliable again if if

you want people to read these reports

and if you want them to be effective it

needs to be information that's reliable

someone can take and take action on so

these are some of the best practices

these are some of the ways that we found

to write effective project reports if

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