How to Write a Project Management Report
A project management report is a summary overview of the current status of the project. It is a formal record of the state of a project at a given time. (The exact form and details may vary depending on your company and project management office requirements, as many businesses now have their own templates for all their PMs to adhere to.) Depending on the size and complexity of your project, the project management report may be required weekly or monthly. It is provided to all project stakeholders to help keep them up to date on the progress of the project and any pressing challenges the project may be facing. The majority of project management reports are single pagers, but may have appendices or links to more information for anyone who wishes to delve into the details. However, in some circumstances, it can be much more in-depth. For example, there is a government template that is ten pages in length.
What is included in a project management report?
Project management reports should include the following key characteristics no matter which business, industry, or even type of project the report is for:
All of the identifying project information:
- The project name
- The project number (if you have one)
- Name of the project manager
- Project sponsor
- Start date of the project
- Expected end date
- Customer name and information
- The date the report is released
The key metrics of project success:
- Schedule progress against plan. Is the project ahead of or behind schedule?
- Current cost versus budget. Are you under budget or over?
- Current scope compared to plan. Has the scope changed since the project began? If so, how?
- Planned versus actual resourcing. Are any resources missing or overallocated?
- An overview of risks. Are there any high risks that need to be managed?
- Current quality findings. Has quality testing been done? Were there any issues?
Additional information to include:
- Project change management. This is usually an update of any pending and approved change requests for the project.
- Actions taken. This provides a high-level summary of key actions taken and decisions made since the last report. It can also include accomplishments, such as milestones recently met.
- Decisions required. If there is a key decision that needs to be made, this is a common place to call out what it is, who it’s waiting on and when it’s due. An example could be sponsor approval of the project management plan.
- Upcoming milestones. Deliverables due soon and milestones approaching may be communicated for awareness.
How to write a project management report
When writing a project management report, it is important to keep the following in mind:
- Be concise and share results and outcomes. Don’t focus on details your stakeholders don’t need to know. Try to use bullet points, not paragraphs. If you create a ten-page document every week, no one is likely to read it, and you won’t have time to manage the actual project.
- Understand your audience. Make sure that the report is not too technical and avoid any jargon. Otherwise, your stakeholders won’t be able to understand it.
- Provide context. Don’t just say a deliverable will be two weeks late. How will this impact the rest of the project and what actions are being taken to resolve it? Stakeholders need to know how significant the problem truly is.
- Be clear about any asks. If you require any of your stakeholders to do something, make sure you explicitly call out who is responsible, what it is they are responsible for, and when it needs to be done.
- Make it visual. Use a project management software that offers project management report templates. This allows stakeholders to quickly identify which projects are struggling and what areas they are struggling with, before reading further into the report. Executives may receive dozens of reports (or more) every week, so making the reports easy to read is critical.