Max earned his project management professional (PMP) certification in 2013. He holds an MA in Communication from U of I.
Writing weekly project status updates can feel like a chore, but they are a critical tool that helps project managers keep a project on track. Weekly project status reports keep senior leadership and the project team up to date on the status of the project, give you a forum to put risks and issues in front of everyone, and give you another avenue to keep pushing milestone dates in front of everyone to ensure people stay focused on them. This article walks through the critical elements you should include in every weekly project status report.
A stoplight status is a green, yellow, or red indicator. Green indicates that the project is on schedule and there are no issues. Yellow indicates that there are risks looming that, if not address, will have a definite impact on either the project schedule or the project budget. Red indicates that the project is experiencing significant problems and an impact on the scope, timeline or budget is unavoidable. After addressing a project that is in a red status you'll need to re-baseline the project, at which time you can move it out of a red stoplight status.
The status update section is a short, written-out summary indicating where the project is currently at. Ideally, this should be limited to a few sentences that hit the high notes. Generally, this will call out where the team is at with regard to reaching the next project milestone. Alternatively, if the project is currently experiencing a major setback, this is a good place to call that out so that it will get on the radar of senior leadership. Additionally, if your project has multiple phases include a brief status update associated with the status of each phase or a key part of the project.
Milestones are the important dates that it's critical for the project team to hit during the development of the project. For example, a milestone may be a demo of what you're working on for investors or key stakeholders or the expected date of completion. You need to call the milestone dates out on your weekly project status report to ensure that both the key project stakeholders and the project team don't lose sight of them.
In-Flight and Upcoming Work
Include a section in your weekly project status update that summarizes what project team members are currently working on, and what work they will be moving on to after that. You should be able to glean this information from a combination of the project schedule and the work breakdown structure. This also helps keep the project manager in check, as it forces them to touch base with everyone to validate what they are working on and what tasks they will be moving on to next. It also gives project team members another avenue to put forward any issues they are running into or risks that are on the horizon.
Risks and Issues
The last, but still critical, sections you need to include in a weekly project status report are for risks and issues. The section calling out risks needs to clearly call out all of the potential risks to the project you see on the horizon and the plan you have to mitigate those risks in the event that they become issues. This is not an exact science, and there is no way to be prepared for everything, but you want to ensure that you've identified everything you can and that you have a rough idea of how you would control it in the event it becomes an issue. The issue section should list all of the issues currently being experienced on the project and the actions that are being taken to address them.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Max Dalton
Max Dalton (author) from Greater St. Louis, Missouri on January 05, 2017:
Weekly status reports are a pain in the butt to do, but theybaee an easy way to keep everyone up to speed and engaged. They also give you a paper trail :-)
Jill Spencer from United States on January 05, 2017:
A good overview, Max, and you also show why these reports are important to project success. Planning, assessing, goal-setting . . . we all need to do it! Thanks.