Magnifying glass, looking at graphs, reportWhy make status reports?

Every project needs a status report , also known as progress report, in which the status of the project is clearly, accurately and objectively reported.

Start feeding your project status reports with live data on ITM Platform.

A project status report is intended to provide an evaluation of the progress and communicate execution details. Therefore, the development of the progress report is of great importance, since it is vital that it be carried out following a predetermined model. Only in this way will the users of the reports be able to compare them with each other:

  • Comparing status reports for different phases of the same project gives you a better idea of the distance covered, analyzing how far future projections from previous phases have been verified or denied
  • Comparing reports from different projects is crucial, especially among similar projects using Gantt charts, to understand where discrepancies between estimates and real data are

If you do not have a reporting model in your organization, you are missing out on the advantage of being able to compare reports. To make matters worse, homogeneous models allow users of such reports to find the information they need quickly, as they know how it’s structured. This is one of the aspects where by a Project Management Office can bring great benefits for internal communication in an organization.

A status report contains a brief description of the main elements of the report, establishing causes and explanations that justify and give context to the data. Metrics and graphics will allow the user to understand the progress of the project in a very short time.

The executive summary: Basis for monitoring a project

This section requires an objective description of how the project is running . The summary should present clearly and simply the most important results of the project, including:

  • Milestones fulfilled
  • Deliverables and quality
  • Risks or unforeseen events
  • Relationship between estimates and real, in at least three aspects: resource allocation, costs and deadlines
  • The difference between the estimated progress and the progress to date. If the date of delivery is considered unrealistic, this alarm signal is the first step to alert the customer and negotiate a new date with him.

On the other hand, the executive summary is very effective for a detailed follow-up of the unplanned challenges that arose during project development, as well as actions to be implemented in the short term , so that any eventuality can be mitigated.

The purpose is to ensure that the project continues on the path to success, delivering the project on time, with the expected quality.

Project progress reporting: steady progress assessment

The constant evaluation of a project is vital to know what countermeasures should be taken to make the project successful. Hence the preparation of this section outlines the most problematic areas of the project.

Likewise, suggestions and corrections can be advanced to solve a specific problem. As the project, often, cannot wait to receive feedback on these aspects, decisions are already taken, so this point can delineate already decided actions.

Registration Template: Project Control

The status report should generate relevant information about the risks recorded. It is advisable to start from a registry template by means of which you can retrieve useful information in an orderly way. This registry template will contain:

  • Project Risk Factors,
  • Probabilities
  • Project impact

You can visit ITM Platform’s free risk assessment matrix to compile this information quickly.

Know all about metrics: Promotes project tracking

Managing a project is only possible if you have the tools to quantify the different parameters involved, offering objective and comparable data. Thus, you can measure, for example:

  • Delivery times
  • Quality of the deliverables, based on the number of requirements included
  • Costs incurred to date
  • Percentage costs over total
  • Amount of unanticipated costs incurred
  • Hours worked, either per worker or by professional category

Result indicator

If the result is not a material product but a service, and the project covers the phases of implementation and marketing, there will be a large number of quantifiable aspects related to the result, such as the number of users, their average cost, and so on. These indicators will serve to measure the quality of delivery.

If you are interested in knowing which indicators you can use to manage your portfolio, you can continue reading these articles:


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vector graphics, modern flat illustrationEven 16 years into the 21st century, there is a very common story about companies that are not leveraging the wealth of information on employee performance to their advantage. Typically, these organizations prefer their employees to stay on their desks for longer hours as a measure of productivity, motivation and commitment. In these cases, poor project management is cured by merely expanding the scope with more and more time effort.

Another sign of disrespect to performance information is a killing culture of long meetings, or even of just too frequent meetings for any topic that requires any kind of interaction –it doesn’t really matter whether you have 5 one hour meetings or one deadly, heart-melting 4 hour meeting: your work will be frozen just the same. Sometimes, organizations that try to be agile fall into this trap.

If your company is suffering from this kind of counterproductive culture that kills productivity, there are basically two ways you can change it.

Become a Dane (yes, it’s unlikely)

Your name is Richard Heart? Change it to Rikkard Hjertsen. Move your company’s HQ to Denmark, where people finish their workday regularly before 5 and still manage to get their stuff done. They say the trick is simply trust in the work completed.

Or turn Dane in your own territory. Netflix did a similar thing in 2012 when they abolished the notion of holidays for an unlimited time off policy of “freedom and responsibility”. But there’s a wicked angle to it: after just x months into this major shift, the HR manager who coined the new holiday culture was fired, and many employees are actually taking less time off to prove their commitment. Back to square one. In other words: when unnuanced, major policy shifts are likely to have unintended consequences. And they can be really hard to heal.

Other companies have been more realistic about their Danification: Spanish utility company Iberdrola simply shuts down their offices after 3 pm and forces their employees to stay focused for seven-hour shifts starting at 8 am. For a Spanish company, it’s a big deal, and so far it’s worked well.

Be smart about your people processes

The opposite way is to actually be smart about what I call your people processes.

People processes are all the organizational flows in virtue of which you assign responsibilities, allocate tasks, measure completion and (what is often overlooked) get back to people to make sure they understand what their value contribution is.

You will have to be attentive to all the nuances in your company, and treat people differently corresponding to their personalities, working styles, objectives and effectiveness.

There is no simple treat for smart people processes, but here are some recommendations that can help you find the right path.

People processes start SMART

SMART objectives can align project management and people management processes. Treat your employees with goals that are Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-bound!

Recruit objective-oriented talent

Try hard to recruit people who prefer to work based on objectives. Of course, this is easier said than done; but some things that you should be looking at in the recruitment process are resumes that display clear achievement narratives; interviewees who are energized by challenges; and employees who don’t mind taking some work home during high peak but are intelligent enough to prioritize properly.


Build business dependencies to reward employees who come in first and get the job done. With no surveillance into the processes, it’s easy to transform First In, First Out personalities into First In, Last Out burnout promises.

Identify critical data

This is the essential resource management data for project management:

  • Allocation gaps: Of the total amount of man-hours estimated for a project, how many of them have been assigned to your resources?
  • Utilization: How many man-hours are currently assigned to each of your resources? Are any of them currently having a problem of underutilization or overutilization?

An important problem of resource management data is its exhaustiveness and reliability. In other words, you need to be sure that when a resource appears as underutilized, he or she is not actually working on tasks that haven’t been registered.

That’s why you should make sure that the project management software you use meets three conditions:

  • It allows you to view and compare allocation gaps and utilization stats so you can pivot your assignments and identify bottlenecks
  • It is properly enforced and used by all project managers and team members
  • It allows for a program and portfolio vision, so you scale utilization at the organization level

It’s really easy to adopt ITM Platform to meet all three conditions:

  • Easy adoption. Our SaaS deployment, easy rollout and licensing policies allow to have project managers, portfolio owners and team members on the same platform. Additionally, with the ITM Platform Teambot team members can report their efforts directly from their Slack chatbox.
  • ITM Platform is an industry leader in Project and Portfolio Management.
  • Our resource management functionality combines allocation gaps and utilization statistics in a unified vision at the portfolio level.

Iterate on your data

Of course, you will have to look back at your project management data and ask a few questions, which can be addressed in project post-mortems or at a more strategic level.

You basically want to know why your performance forecasts aren’t met.

For example, you may have an average 35% excess between the estimated hours and the final effort devoted to a project. But unless you look into it with more detail, you won’t be able to know whether the problem lies in:

  • Low productivity of task and project members
  • Unforeseen events
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Or a combination of all

You can build several HR analytics into this evaluation process, and the layer can be as complex as you want it to be. However, it’s good to keep in mind that your human resources are people and you will need to treat them with flexibility: beware of decisions based solely on data!

For example, you could start by looking at the estimation accuracy per worker, per type of project or per project manager, and start creating baseline metrics. This could then help you better compile requirements and tune time estimations to how your experts actually work.

Go beyond your usual toolkit: Social Network Analysis and others

Utilization and allocation gap metrics usually allow to identify bottlenecks, but they may not be enough. You may be interested in supplementing them with analysis of how your organization actually communicates. For example, a social network analysis based on your reporting procedures will allow to view who are the formal gatekeepers in your organization; while an empirical study of real information flows will allow you to see who is actually blocking or facilitating the processes.

Have you ever used other type of analysis and metrics? What’s your smart approach to HR analytics, and how does it contribute to improving your project management processes?

Jaime González-Capitel
Senior Content Strategist
ITM Platform

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