Creating project management reports is second nature to project managers.
Ever happened to stop by your project manager’s desk? I am sure you would have almost always found him battling with report generation.
And if you talk to one, you can hear them fussing over the number of revisions, data massaging, frequency and format changes for same datasets being requested over and over by different stakeholders.
The situation has improved to quite an extent but not at levels I would have personally liked.
- we are still caught up with too much “adminocracy”
- not using the project management & collaboration tools to their full extent
- sticking to conventional report formats
- losing focus over –“what’s actually needed” vs. “what all can I have in a report”
“Ad hoc project management reports have been an acceptable part of a Project Manager’s KRA. It shouldn’t be. Period!”
The need is to rather identify the right set of reports that would benefit the project & meet expectations of all stakeholders involved.
“Smart thing would be to define these reports at the beginning of the project itself and get sign-off on them. With their desired frequency, of course!”
This would prevent distractions, last minute requests & efforts that would drive focus away from more impactful items on the to–dos.
So which project management reports must one choose for meaningful representation of critical success factors of a project?
The ones that come to my mind are:
- Executive Dashboards
- Project Overview
- Task Progress
- Time & Resource Management Report
- Bugs & Issues Report
Project Sponsors and the Business are the most important stakeholders of all. Their reporting needs must be catered to in the most impactful manner possible. Truth is told:
One, they are the ones with their hands on the plug.
Two, keeping them engaged, preventing their anxiety is in the best interest of the project.
At the same time it is important to understand “them” and what is it that they look for in project management reports. Or the end of your status meeting would be something like this:
Be open, invite ideas and engage them in defining the report sections they would like to be presented with.
Some may prefer only charts, some only numbers or text or a combination of all 3. Based on these insights define an executive dashboard that gives a holistic view of the entire project as precisely as possible.
Ideally, an executive dashboard must cover the overall portfolio with parameters on
- Project Health – Red, Amber, Green status of projects in terms of Time and Cost
- Project(s) Progress Timeline – showcasing project progress % w.r.t the overall schedule
- Milestone(s) Progress Timeline – indicating milestone progress of chosen projects
- Project Profitability Report – clearly indicating profitability w.r.t budget and cost approved
Note: All of these sections must allow for relevant drill down if the executives prefer so.
Above mentioned are just the key items executives usually prefer to get a sense of the tide.
“You can always have additional items related to tasks, time and resource metrics if they demand so. Else its best to keep them separate to get the desired their attention.”
Project Overview report is usually for those detailed review meetings with your Program Manager & PMO.
Project Overviews provide the finer details of the project to perform thorough assessment of its various moving parts.
- Task Progress by status and count to understand true progress
- Overdue tasks list to identify bottlenecks and delays
- Billable hours spend of the resources
- Individual representation of task count, overdue task count by user and billable/non-billable hour spend of the project team members
- Notes section for the PMs to highlight open items, issues, risks & AOB
As a result, you are able to maintain the required rigour & vigil to keep project execution on track.
Task Progress Status
At the end everything boils down to efficient Task Management. We all know it.
Most people usually focus on task count & closure rather than actual completion. And this is often a misleading metric.
Being on top of task status progress is a must. And it is equally important to understand the mix of task types the team is engaged in and their effort spend on these tasks.
Tasks by Task Type and Task Type Time Log would answer 2 key questions:
- Which projects entail which specific type of tasks the most?
- Which task types eat into the maximum efforts of your team?
And the benefits would be
- Better estimation for future projects
- Identify why is there an overdose of specific task types
- Eliminate process loopholes leading to bottlenecks
- Fix skill gaps if any, upskill & reskill based on project requirements
- Improve resource allocation, right team for the right project & task type
- Increase profitability with reduced non-billable activities per project
Time & Resource Management Reports
Time tracking & resource management activities account for over 40% of a project manager’s time.
And rightly so, as this where the moolah is. If not managed well, inspite of the team’s best efforts and quality outcomes your project will turn red.
“Remember; projects are to deliver as well as derive value for both parties!”
Resources are a major project expense and need to be tracked vigorously to ensure project profitability.
Having detailed insights of your resource metrics provides you greater project control and allows for shifting gears when needed.
Also, in the larger scheme of things you tend to improve the overall utilization and productivity of the organization leading to greater profits while running future projects.
Sounds like a battle. Not exactly!
“Project Management tools offer comprehensive time and resource management reports cited above. All of these in real time & within a few clicks.”
Bugs & Issues Reports
Keeping your defect and issue count to a minimum is in the best interest of the project.
But first, having a tighter handle on them is even better.
Quality deliverables are crucial to customer satisfaction. While, minimum project issues are desirable to prevent rework, effort spends on non-billable activities, risk project delay and penalties where applicable.
Deploying a streamlined approach to bug tracking and issue resolution helps you
- Reduce distraction
- Enhance team collaboration
- Prevent customer and team frustration
- Improve project outcomes
- Protect project profitability
Extensive reporting capabilities are integral to robust project management practice. It enables wider reach of the strategic and tactical organizational initiatives.
The ability to constantly monitor, assess and improvise in real time is indeed helpful while running large complex projects involving cross functional teams.
Moreover, there is greater transparency and better last mile integration of the desired outcomes.
As an organization timely review of project management reports help
- run impactful programs in an orderly fashion
- enable seamless collaboration across teams
- obtain transparent feedback
- get timely executive help
- steer clear of any bias or prejudice
- analyse real time
All in all, end to end reporting rigor ensures focus on the one common goal, its deliverability and keeps the entire workforce aligned.