What content to include in a status report?

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jamesm
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Sun 15 Sep 2019 12:11 am

Hi All,

I’m a software developer that has had to manage quite a few projects over time as well… I’m not a qualified or certified project manager, it’s just something that has fallen on my shoulder in numerous projects.

The biggest challenge I have found is that of communication - particularly with decision makers. They often cancel catchup meetings where i am wanting to update them, seldom seem to read the details when I send them information, and then when they find out a project might be running two months late for example, they chuck a hissy fit! Of course, if they had not cancelled the meetings, or read the emails, the would have known that it didn’t just go from “running on time” to “being two months late”... it happened over the course of many weeks and primarily because they were not making decisions and so things had to be postponed.

What i found was, sending such manager a “big red dot” and blinking text saying… “project late, will not launch on time” got their attention… but what bugs me is that I am becoming a constant alarmist…

Do other people experience anything like this? How do you deal with it so that you are not seen as the person who only ever comes up with issues or as an alarmist…

For me, I’ve now started using a template that has the usual traffic light, due date, key risks, etc…

I make sure I send out the report every week at the same time… seems to have started working a little better with this… but keen on how everyone else works through issues like the above, and what you use (content and tool) for doing your status update reports.

James.
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dhaughey
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Mon 16 Sep 2019 10:30 am

Hi James,

I use a shared Evernote notebook for each of my projects. I type the minutes over Skype for Business during my weekly meetings. It makes sure the minutes are distributed immediately after the meeting. I find that people are more likely to carry out their actions in a timely manner if the minutes are distributed straightaway.

Most of my stakeholders are very busy and sometimes ask to cut the meetings short (20 or 30 minutes) or rearrange them for a different day. If they can't attend, I give them an email update. Projects can't be successful if stakeholders aren't engaged. You have to ask how important the projects are, if stakeholders don't want to attend a short weekly meeting. Perhaps flag the project as at risk solely because stakeholders aren't attending status updates.

Duncan
KappaTango
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Mon 23 Sep 2019 11:17 am

Using a RAG status can allow you to easily identify at a glance to time-poor stakeholders. Effective and accurate use of a Red / Amber / Green flag can highlight the importance of the information within the report.
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dhaughey
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Mon 23 Sep 2019 1:54 pm

I agree, it is hard to look past a RAG status indicator. That makes it absolutely clear when there are problems and there is very little excuse for not knowing.
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