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4 Red Lights on the Dashboard of Project Reporting

Project reports can be a valuable performance insight for business owners and/or sponsors. But as Karen Munro states in a post at her blog, project managers don’t always deliver the goods. Listed here are some proverbial red lights for PMs who haven’t yet mastered the art of reporting.  

1. Project manager doesn’t know what’s going on.

The lack of any reporting whatsoever signals that the PM is not in touch with the project’s progress. Without this project “snapshot” there is no way to gauge the benefits being accrued, if indeed there are any benefits.

2. Project manager bores business owner / sponsor.

An audience can always ask for more detail, but not less. The PM is advised to keep project reports brief and to the point (four pages is recommended). A concise and effective report might include points about schedule, scope, and budget. It may further offer risks with mitigation strategies listed, a display of financial tracking, and the stated accomplishments of the previous reporting period.

3. Project manager likes the color green.

Despite the fact that a project is in trouble, the project manager insists on showing in the report that everything is fine. Not only is this a huge disservice to the project itself, but it misleads the sponsors and business owners, in addition to stalling any genuine improvements.

4. Project manager provides TMI on paper.

Too much information (TMI) in a project report, and in the tight confines of a single page, is a surefire way for a PM to compromise their own credibility. Even if the information displayed is useful, lack of readability will render it otherwise.

In sum, it is recommended that the PM produce a regular project report that is readable, realistic, and that plays to the needs of relevant stakeholders. Both the credibility of the PM and the project’s value are on the line.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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