As a project manager, you might feel like an unsung hero. Not only do you manage teams, tasks, budgets, and timelines, but you’re also in charge of presenting your progress to stakeholders.
No pressure, right?
Instead of sweating bullets when it’s time to show the CEO what you’ve worked so hard for, generate a project status report. This report summarizes the work completed so far and the next steps—which is a real lifesaver for weekly PM meetings.
In this guide, we’ll explain what a project status report is, what to include in it, and how to generate better reports. We’ll even throw in a few project management status report examples and templates to cut down on the time you spend generating status reports.
Because at the end of the day, it’s about working smarter, not harder. 💪
- What is a Project Status Report?
- Benefits of Using a Project Status Report in Project Management
- What to Include in a Project Status Report
- How to Create a Project Status Report With Helpful Examples
What is a Project Status Report?
A project status report is a detailed document that gives key stakeholders an overview of an important project’s current status. Project managers usually prepare these reports on a regular basis and share them with team members, management, or clients.
Instead of running through tasks at breakneck speed, creating project reports forces you to stop and think about how you’re completing projects. You look at projects retroactively and proactively, which streamlines the project lifecycle.
It doesn’t hurt that a solid report will also keep stakeholders happy.
The goal here is to keep everyone informed about a project’s progress. If you’re doing client-facing work, project status reports assures clients that you’re hard at work.
And if you generate solid status reports for your weekly check-ins, don’t be surprised if your boss gives you a hearty slap on the back. 🤩
Benefits of Using a Project Status Report in Project Management
Sure, you could throw together a few talking points before your next check-in meeting. But that doesn’t look nearly as professional as a proper report on the project’s progress.
With the right template or project view, it takes no time at all to generate a solid project management status report. In just a few clicks, you or your project managers generate a quality doc that comes with a host of benefits.
1. Keep your stakeholders happy
Is your boss chomping at the bit for status updates? Do you have a client who’s desperate for results?
Project status reports quell anxious clients’ worries and show your boss that you mean business. They’re a solid project management tool that updates everyone on project milestones and your overall progress.
Plus, you can use a great project status report as a tool for performance tracking. This not only shows how the project is doing but also justifies the efforts of everyone on your team.
2. Boost team collaboration
Teamwork makes the dream work, but it’s complicated to manage a large group. Fortunately, project status reports get everyone on the same page and boost team collaboration.
Instead of allowing project to-dos to float away into the ether, a status report gives everyone clear action items. It provides structure and accountability to motivate your project team to do their best work. 🙌
Plus, regular reports can even boost team morale. Visualizing success and completed milestones puts the emphasis on your team’s accomplishments instead of focusing solely on upcoming tasks. And recent data shows that recognition improves employee well-being
3. Speed up project timelines
Nobody likes project delays. While you can’t avoid all hiccups, regular project status reports keep your team accountable to the project schedule.
Status reports offer much-needed structure to the project management process, which cuts down on wasted time and effort. Keep tabs on your timeline with a project tracker.
From there, it’s as easy as exporting your data to give everyone an in-depth report in just a few clicks.
4. Identify issues ASAP
Risk identification keeps your project budget in line and tasks on time—provided you spot potential risks early enough. Project management status reports should include a section on challenges and roadblocks so you can discuss them with the project team.
This gives you a chance to gather at mission control and come up with a solution for at-risk tasks ASAP. ⚒️
Instead of scrambling to deal with unexpected side quests, anticipating issues keeps your team focused and productive. If you’re in a highly regulated industry, it can even help with risk management, which your legal department will love.
5. Make better decisions
Sometimes project management requires going with your gut, but 9 times out of 10, you need to justify your decisions with data. Regular status reports provide enough project information to support data-driven decision-making.
Project status reports include important metrics that tell you if it’s time to course-correct or if everything’s A-OK. Quantify project success with metrics like:
- On-time completion
- Working dates
- Time spent
- Percent completed
- Client satisfaction
- Error rate
Ideally, you should look at data from previous reporting periods to identify trends. For example, if you frequently go over budget on certain types of projects (or with, ahem, particular clients), you may need to increase your bid on the next project—or find some serious cost-saving opportunities.
6. Improve communication
Whether you’re chatting with your boss, client, or team members, a project status report supports transparent communication. Not only does it format all project details in a digestible way with pretty colors, but it also encourages your team to communicate more frequently. 🌻
If your boss wants a clearer picture of the project’s health, a project management status report spells everything out in black and white to reduce the risk of misunderstandings.
What to Include in a Project Status Report
As you gear up to create your first project status report, you might wonder what you need to include in the report itself. You don’t want to overlook important information, but you also don’t want to overwhelm everyone with a 20-page novel.
Try to strike a balance between sharing information and keeping things short and sweet. Make sure your project management status report includes the following key elements. 🔑
A detailed—but succinct—executive summary
The executive summary should offer high-level information with the report highlights. This is the “tl;dr” project summary that your CEO will look at 60 seconds before the status meeting, so don’t phone it in.
Even though the summary comes first, you need the information in the rest of the report to write it. This is why you should always write the executive summary last.
Your team will read the entire report if they want more details, so keep the summary brief—no more than six sentences. Get started with a well-documented guide by using the ClickUp Executive Project Status Template.
Visual progress of the project
The progress section details your current status and completed milestones and deliverables. People have short memories, so reminding everyone of what you’ve accomplished so far is a great nod to your team’s stellar work. ✨
This is the section where you brag about your team’s accomplishments. Call them out with pretty Gantt charts and graphics visualizing your deliverables or project goals.
A progress bar, line graph, or checked boxes will definitely draw your boss’s eye to the right places. The progress section of a status report should pick up from the last report.
If you create project status reports on a quarterly basis, it’s easy to forget where you left off. Always compare your current report to previous reports so you don’t overlook anything.
The overall project schedule
Projects live and die by deadlines. This area of the project status report should include the overall project timeline and provide updates on where you’re at right now. Note if you’re ahead of schedule, right on track, or (gulp) falling behind.
Instead of listing the schedule with text, create a visual dashboard, Calendar view, or Gantt chart to make it easier for everyone to digest complex timeframes in less time.
Insights into the project budget
After meeting deadlines, budget management is your biggest responsibility as a project manager. Whether it’s the client or upper management, your project status report should analyze the project’s financial performance.
Again, try to visualize this as much as possible. For example, if you’re budgeting based on percentages, note how much of the project budget you’ve spent with a pie chart. Use this section of the report to also forecast how you think budget spend will look going forward.
Common challenges and blockers
What’s in your way right now? This is your chance to speak up.
Instead of letting problems quietly simmer in the background, call them out. For example, if the client didn’t give you the right information for the project, note it here. Or if your team doesn’t have access to the right tools to move forward, call it out. 📣
The entire team will gather to review the project status report, so this is your chance to look at roadblocks and project risks together.
Well-communicated next steps
Unless you’re 100% done with a project, you’ll need to spell out what comes next. In this section of the project status report, clarify the tasks and milestones you still need to complete.
But don’t just list the tasks. Add a dash of accountability by assigning next steps to specific team members, along with due dates. This way, you have a very clear path moving forward—plus accountability—so no one has to wonder what they’re responsible for.
All the project KPIs and metrics
Finally, every project status report should include a section just for metrics. You’re free to weave these metrics throughout the report, but even then, some folks might want to see a high-level view of project performance in one place.
Listing your metrics in one section makes it possible to monitor them over time. Look at averages over the course of the project, plus how this report compares to past reports, to see if you’re on track.
Every project is different, but it’s good to track metrics like:
- Cost performance
- Time logged
- Gross margins
- Customer satisfaction
- Successful due date completion
The less you can make this look like a wall of boring numbers, the better. Use a project report template with pretty graphics to make your metrics pop.
How to Create a Project Status Report With Helpful Examples
At this point, you might have an idea of what to include within the project status report. But how do you put it all together?
There’s no need to DIY your own project report. Just follow these steps—and follow proven examples and templates—to create project status reports in no time at all. ⏲️
Step 1: Understand project stakeholder needs
There’s no need to add a deluge of data to your project status reports. All you need is the information that matters most to project stakeholders.
Know your target audience. What do they need to see? What do they actually care about? 👀
Step 2: Schedule it regularly
Project reports aren’t something you create when you feel like it. This needs to be a regular part of your workflow to understand the overall project health. Add it to your task management solution so you don’t forget.
It’s also a good idea to set up a recurring calendar invite with all key stakeholders so you review the status report on a consistent basis.
Step 3: Start gathering data
Every project health report should be unique. Pull the most relevant data from your systems to update the report before you review it with the team.
You could plug in project data manually, but we’re willing to bet you’re too busy for that. Create a custom dashboard to track everything so you don’t lose your mind juggling every task, project, and person.
You don’t have to do this alone either. Ask your team members to contribute their insights. Project management software doesn’t always tell the full story, especially with qualitative data. Invite your team to share insights by a certain date so you can include them in the report.
Step 4: Start from a comprehensive project status report template
Some project managers build reports out of Excel spreadsheets or Google Docs, but that requires a lot of copying and pasting. Instead, generate a report from data in your project management system so it’s click-and-go.
Of course, you need to use a project status report template based on the type of project you’re working on. Your organization will have its own quirks, but it’s good to account for the nuances of these project types:
- Daily status reports: It takes a lot of effort to generate daily reports, so a template will save you a ton of time. Since it’s likely a quick turnaround, keep daily reports as short and relevant as possible. You’ll probably need to adjust this one in real-time so you don’t miss anything
- Weekly status reports: Your team will probably pick the same day each week to chat about project progress. Weekly project status reports are common for intensive, client-facing projects, so pay a lot of attention to your schedule, budget, and next steps
- Monthly status reports: These are common if you’re doing a marketing project where you need time in between status reports to track KPIs and metrics
- Quarterly status reports: Keep quarterly reports very high level. It’s easy to get into the weeds when you have three months’ worth of data to look at, but focus only on the most important takeaways
The ClickUp Project Status Report Template
Understanding the report’s frequency makes it much easier to choose a template. From here, it’s as easy as plugging your data into a template with sections, graphics, and gorgeous color coding that’s ready to rock and roll.
For example, the ClickUp Project Status Report Template is actually a Whiteboard that you convert into a status report in just a few clicks.
Use the template to:
- Organize projects by certain labels, filters, or tasks
- Automatically generate project health charts and graphs
- Share tasks, due dates, and budget details with the team and key stakeholders
The project status report template even comes with customizable statuses, fields, and views so you can make it your own. Instead of jumping between your project management software and your status report document, you keep everything within the ClickUp platform to significantly speed up the time it takes to generate reports.
That’s an all-around win, wouldn’t you say? 🏆
Step 5: Update as you go
A project status report is a living document. The information within it should change regularly to reflect the current status of the project, but it’s OK to change your template.
Gather feedback from all stakeholders to see if they find the updates helpful. If they don’t think the progress report is useful, you may need to add or trim sections.
But don’t take it personally: if these changes make the report more engaging, it’s worth adjusting the reporting process.
Create Project Status Updates in One Click
Successful project management is an art. It might look like everything is going smoothly to your boss, but a project status report shows just how much work you and your team put in to make this happen. 🎨
Keep your team on the same page, reassure stakeholders, and create more structured project plans with a project status report template.
While templates are a good start, they still need data. ClickUp Dashboards speed up reports by linking your project mission control center to your reports, templates, chats, and a lot more.
Build your next status report in ClickUp: Create your own Dashboard right now—it’s Free Forever!