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Being a Project Manager is a difficult, yet fruitful job! Your primary objective is to oversee the success of your project, aiming for a perfectly executed deliverable, with minimal disruptions along the way.
Planning, preparation, and communication are the key factors in managing any project. Often the Project Manager is the one delegating the tasks, which can make it seem to your team that you’re not actually doing anything! In reality, planning and preparation are very time consuming, but ultimately is the key to a successful project. How do your team and stakeholders see the benefits of your project management skills? Yes, you guessed it… through the power of reports!
Why do I need to produce reports as a Project Manager?
Reports can be as easy, or as complex as you want them to be. They can be for internal, or external use. Your report could be informational or analytical. Graphical, tabular, textual… the possibilities are endless!
Why do we use reports? The simple answer would be, to evaluate a specific area of business operations. The information contained within your reports can help managers and executives make important decisions, which contribute to the success of your business.
Projects typically contain plenty of risks! If you aren’t careful or haven’t put enough preparation into planning, you run the risk of failure. Going over budget, not meeting deadlines, as well as not having enough resource allocated to your project. These are all risks that could have been prevented by creating and analysing project reports.
What should I be reporting on as a Project Manager?
As a Project Manager, there are lots of things you will need to report on. To make your job a little easier, we have compiled a list of our top five reports every Project Manager needs in their life.
1. Status Reports
As the name suggests, this report will communicate the overall status of your project. This is one of the most important reports you will likely produce. It should contain a summary of scope, responsibilities, risks, budget and project health. Depending on the intensity of the project phases you may be required to produce these on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
2. Project Pipeline Report
It’s always good for management to have a general overview of the status of all projects you currently have in progress. Which projects are going well? Which projects need a little more TLC? You may wish to identify whether or not certain phases of a project are more successful than others. Analysing the results of your reports may help to improve your project processes moving forwards.
Project pipeline reports would generally only be used internally and may include projects that haven’t started yet. Having this information available will help show what’s currently ongoing and what to expect in the near future.
3. Risk Assessment Reports
It doesn’t matter how much you plan, there are always going to be risks that may knock your project off course. Adopting good risk assessment procedures is the best way to stop problems from occurring. The risk assessment report identifies risks and addresses the potential impact they could have on a project. The report should include details of how you would deal with each risk, should any of them occur, and what you could do to mitigate them. Having a backup plan is always a good idea!
4. Resource Reports
Resource planning is a big challenge when managing a project. You need to make sure you have a big enough team, and if possible, some back-ups! Often, when you have several projects on the go, you could be fighting for resource amongst them. As if Project Management isn’t enough of a battle already! A resource report will show you which member of the team is allocated to which project, on which day. These reports can often be difficult to interpret; however, they offer a worthwhile way of ensuring you haven’t over or under-resourcing your project.
5. Time Tracking Report
One of the key aspects of any project is to keep within the budget. Tracking the amount of time it takes for members of your team to complete project tasks is one way to ensure that you are staying within your allocated budget. You may want to include whether or not the tasks you are tracking are billable or non-billable. Also, you may want to run a report to see which project your team has spent the most time on.
How you track time is completely up to you. You may use the traditional method of timesheet keeping, or you may have adopted a project management software which monitors the time spent on tasks for you. This option is usually preferable, as these software packages often include inbuilt tools for reporting.
What are the challenges of Project Reporting?
An important thing to consider is whether or not the report you have generated is relevant to the person you are sending it to. Larger projects may have a higher number of stakeholders, all with different information needs. It is important, therefore, that you scope out the specific needs of each stakeholder early on in the project.
Certain sections in your report may only be appropriate for a specific recipient, but not suitable for others. The key here is to ensure that any information that is relevant to all recipients sits at the top of the report, so this doesn’t get missed!
Here at itas, we like to offer our customers full transparency on all elements of their project; however, it is important to address that customers may wish to see different content to your stakeholders, or your internal team.
The format of your report is also an important factor. If you were a business executive, often out and about attending meetings, would you want to have to open complex spreadsheets or large files? Consider who will be utilising your report and whether it could be viewed on a portable device.
Hint: PDF’s are often desirable!
When you’re a Project Manager the reporting capabilities are limitless. Reporting may be a time-consuming job, but ultimately worth investing your time in. Do you want to improve your skills as a Project Manager? Set yourself a goal this year to create some new and dynamic reports!
Keren runs a tight ship! Being one of our Project Coordinators, she is responsible for making sure tasks are set and executed to keep projects on track. Keren always puts our customers first, and is happy to help with any problem. In her spare time she enjoys keeping fit, eating food, and skating with her Roller Derby team. Keren is a cheerful individual who helps to keep the Itas spirit alive!