When Project Status Reports are Fake News

Status reporting is one of the critical tasks a project manager has to do during the lifecycle of a project as it is the medium to communicate to project stakeholders the progress and health of a given project. For project decision-makers, such as a project steering committee, it serves as means to understand if the stakeholder’s interests are being taken care of appropriately (delivery in time, within agreed budget, in scope, and with agreed quality) and/or if action needs to be taken to steer the project into the intended direction.

Project managers know the drill to put together their status reports on a regular basis, so here is a quick recap of usual contents:

  • RAG status
    Indicates the health of the project, by using the color codes Red/Amber/Green. This should summarize the status of the different metrics linked to project schedule, risks/issues, financial status.
  • Key messages for current reporting cycle
    Highlights the most important messages that stakeholders should be aware of. This could be achievements, challenges, risks, etc.
  • Achievements in reporting cycle
    This should show the progress in the project, highlighting what work and milestones have been completed since the last status report. Shows also if the project is on schedule per agreed delivery timeline.
  • Upcoming activities/milestones
    This will tell the reader what achievements should be expected in the upcoming reporting cycle and where the project supposed to be by then.
  • RAID log
    Risks, assumptions, issues, dependencies — usually one of the most critical parts of a report which should clearly outline mainly the project risks and issues, intended action to resolve, target dates for resolution, and their status.
  • Financial status
    Shows if the project is on budget and the financial burn rate is according to plan.
  • Back-to-Green plan (if applicable)
    Actions to be taken if project is reporting anything else than Green

This sure looks all very reasonable and stakeholders obviously expect very clear messages without any ambiguity. Not a problem you say?

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Marcus Glowasz
Marcus Glowasz
Marcus Glowasz is a project management specialist, coach, and advisor. He works with leaders and organizations to build data-literate and evidence-driven project teams and pave the way for data-informed and AI-supported project work. He is the author of the book "Leading Projects with Data", which provides invaluable insights on overcoming cultural and behavioral barriers to achieving success in data-driven and evidence-based project delivery.