Keeping your team motivated and updated on where you're all at with a specific project may feel like another chunk of your time will be taken up with admin. However, by giving your colleagues and stakeholders an overview of your progress, you'll help everyone ensure they meet their deadline and hit those all-important targets. Remember, 90% of all startups fail in their first year. There are dozens of reasons why this is the case. Still, suppose you want to be one of that shiny 10% and help your startup avoid this type of shocking casualty rate. In that case, you need to be organized, do your research, and set yourself goals that you and your stakeholders can keep track of. One fast and straightforward way of doing this is by creating a project status report. Whether you're an entrepreneur working solo or a startup, this type of status report gives you all the essential information you need.
Let's take a look at status reports in more depth.
What is a Project Status Report?
It's a simple document or startup status report that gives everyone involved a 10,000-foot high overview and understanding of where you're at with your project and business goals.
Typically, your status report might anticipate and answer fundamental questions, such as:
- Progress on business KPIs and goals
- Deadlines being met
- Deadlines at risk of not being met
- Money spent so far and budget schedule
- Potential risks or challenges
- Notable successes so far
- Learning so far
Simply put, you're comparing where you're actually at vs. where you want to be. However, the purpose of such an executive status report is also to draw up actions to counteract any potential risks of the project failing. It's another way of helping yourself to focus on your goals.
Project Status Report: Your Key Headlines
Creating a status report isn't a one-time thing. Instead, it's an essential project management task that you generate ideally monthly or quarterly and weekly as deadlines draw near.
Their regularity may differ according to your business needs, but the steps remain pretty much the same.
Here's how to plan:
- Outline the objective of the report and project
- Define your audience (staff, stakeholders, investors)
Then, create a report structure that includes the following headlines
What the Project Is:
This includes information about the name of your project, who the team is, the date of the status report, and how often it will be generated.
This is a concise yet informative high-level overview of your project/idea. Your Executive Summary is a condensed version of what is happening now and what you anticipate will happen soon.
Milestones, Deadlines, and KPIs
Here's the meaty part of your status report. It's where you dig deep. Give your audience info about:
- The key milestones you've achieved so far
- Which milestones are yet to go
- Where you may face potential delays
This section is a way of showcasing you're fully aware of every aspect of your project and give everyone involved an understanding of progress vs. KPIs. This goes a long way to help anticipate and respond to possible changes.
Your Schedule and Dependencies
Include a dated timeline of upcoming tasks and a schedule that shows your audience the overall progression of your project. You could do this with a Gantt chart to make it a bit more visually attractive.
It's equally important to include dependencies between all the upcoming tasks and demonstrate what is still outstanding with each specific job.
Identifying risks and managing them early on is essential if you want your project or idea to succeed. Make this section easy to read with bullet points that cover all risk management aspects of your project:
- Unresolved or open issues: list any new problems since your last status report and update on earlier issues and what you've done to address them
- Open risks: list any new risks that have come up since the last status report and outline what you're going to do to deal with them.
- Open change requests: outline any requests you and your team require to decide or input from stakeholders/investors.
This could, for example, include extending your schedule or increasing a particular budget headline because the needs of the project have increased or extended.
Include information on budget vs. expenditure and whether you anticipate any overspend. Drilling down the details of your financial metrics is paramount if you want to succeed.
Outline the most critical issues you want to communicate to your audience, including potential risks and any requests you may have to alter the course of your project.
Manual vs. Reporting Software
Why spend hours collating status reports manually when you can do it way faster. While Excel works for some, it can still be time-consuming. Instead, consider using project management software. The Project Management Institute (PMI) report found that 66% of companies that used reporting software completed their project within their original budget.
The benefits are clear:
- Complex data is easily converted into readable and easy-to-understand reports
- You can use filters to limit the visibility to the only data you need
- Create reports with templates for specific periods (week, month, quarter, and so on)
- Share reports and update in real-time
- Monitor your progress vs. your plan
Stay Focused for Success
Creating a status report is just one way of ensuring that you and your team stay focussed and on top of where your business is at all times. It's also a great way of guaranteeing that you always know how to keep stakeholders, including investors, fully informed of how your business idea is faring. If you're an entrepreneur or startup that needs help answering difficult questions, defining and researching target customers, and building products, check out our products Tlaloa.com