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Progress needs to be communicated at regular intervals. This may be, for example, from an individual to their team manager; from a contractor to a project manager; from a project manager to a programme manager. A progress report may cover a small work package, change management activity in a business area or an entire programme in a portfolio.
Regardless of the scale or context, the principles are the same. The report needs to explain what has been done compared to what was planned; what comes next; what problems need attention; what lessons have been learned.
A progress report is a time driven control document used in the delivery process. The content of an effective progress report is dependent upon the judgement of a competent manager who understands the needs of the report’s recipient.
Content should reflect the context of the work and target audience, but the primary categories of information are:
The date of the report.
The period covered by the report.
An overview of progress, highlighting the key points in the report and any actions or decisions required by the recipients of the report.
This section may also include a follow-up from previous reports including actions completed or decisions outstanding.
- This reporting period
Progress in all elements of delivery should be reported according to the control management plan and the scope of work covered by the report. Detailed progress will be contained in other documents, such as schedules, accounts, configuration records and so on.
This report should summarise progress and focus on key performance indicators. It should also cross-reference the detailed documents in case further information is required by the recipients of the report. The type of information that should be included could be:
- Scope - deliverables completed and accepted; changes authorised; quality control results.
- Schedule - summarised actual vs. baseline schedules; key performance indicators such as schedule performance index.
- Finance - actual vs. baseline cash flow; key performance indicators such as cost performance index.
- Risk - new risks; actual occurrence of risks events; response activities completed; increase/decrease in overall risk.
- Resource - actual vs. baseline resource usage; contracts let or completed.
- Change - readiness for change indicators; change objectives completed.
- Stakeholders - communications completed; stakeholder reaction; new stakeholders.
- Next reporting period
Summary of what will be covered by the next progress report and when it will be issued.
- Tolerance status
Tolerances exceeded or in danger of being exceeded. Issues to be escalated, guidance needed.
- Lessons report
A review of what went well, what went badly and suggestions for lessons to be included in the lessons log.