Here are Six Ways to Communicate Project Status
Most of us still create some variation of a paper status report (free template here) to communicate progress on our project. I remember when these reports were printed on paper. An old manager of mine once asked me to review a large binder of paper status reports and tell him if there was anything interesting that he should know about. There were probably over a hundred paper reports in the binder.
Even though most organizations no longer print out status reports, the need for status updates is still here. Here are some old and new ways to report status.
- Status reports. Yes, what is old is also new. Many organizations still create status updates. Usually, these are reviewed online instead of printing in large binders.
- Email. Many organizations send the status information in-stream in an email These emails can still follow a common format so they are easy to read and digest. The information can be easier to digest if it is directly in the email instead of having to click on an attachment.
- Status meetings. Some organizations do not have a status report but go over the status in meetings. The Agile community does this through their daily stand-up status meetings. This can limit the status update to the people in the room, but in many projects that is acceptable.
- Discussions. Some organizations do not have formal status reports, but just hold formal or informal discussions with the sponsor and others with a need to know. This is very informal. Usually, if a person such as a sponsor wants an update they set up a time to talk to the project manager – may be just as a hall discussion.
- Tools. There are a number of tools that can help. These could be specialized status reporting and consolidation tools, or perhaps a general purpose environment like SharePoint.
- Phone messages. You could leave a status report voicemail. This eliminated the initial need for a paper-based report. Usually, you are also time bound to complete the report in two or three minutes – the length of a voicemail.
Remember that although there are many options for the format and technology of reporting project status, the need to communicate status. Status reporting is the way you manage expectations on a project and it is the minimum communication requirement for a project manager.