Project managers also addressed as PM(s) play a vital role in supervising and delivering successful projects and they can be found in any industry. One of their main duties is to communicate the status and progress of on-going project to stakeholders through well written reports.
Well written project manager reports not only provide vital information but also accountability, clarity and transparency. In this article, we will share tips on how to write effective reports as a project manager.
7 Tips for Writing Great Reports
The following are the 7 tips that will help any PM churn out great reports for any type of project.
1. Define the Purpose and Audience
Before you start to write your PM report, it is very important to define the purpose of the write up and the target audience. You need to ask yourself the following questions:-
- What information do I need to convey?
- Who will be reading the piece?
These two questions will help you streamline the content of the report, the tone and also the details that will be in it.
2. Use Simple and Unambiguous Language
Just as with any type of writing that is not for a professional group, the language of your write up has to be simple and unambiguous; it should be easy to understand. Even if the report is about a technical project, you can still convey your message in plain language.
Bear in mind that not all stakeholders may be savvy in the language/technical jargon that you may be tempted to use. Think of a template that will make your report easy to understand. Use headings, subheading and bullet points to make your piece more readable and enable the reader skim through and pick up the information they need faster. Click here for more tips on how to write in simple language.
3. Provide Necessary Context and Background
Ensure that you provide the necessary background information and context for your reports. This enables the reader to understand the current status of the project and its progress based on the objectives that you are working with.
Including a brief overview of the purpose, goals and timeline of the scheme and milestones achieved so far is also helpful. It will help anyone who reads the report to quickly understand what it is all about even if they don’t have full knowledge of the project.
4. Include Key Metrics and Performance Indicators
Numbers and metrics are very important in project management reporting. Key performance indicators (KPIs) and relevant metrics are useful in highlighting the progress of the scheme and other essential parameters such as budget status and utilization of resources.
Ensure that you use these pieces of information well by presenting them in figures in appealing graphics. You can use either graphs or charts to help the reader understand the data easily and also access it faster.
5. Highlight Risks and Challenges
An effective report must never shy away from highlighting whatever risks and challenges that the project is facing. Identify them, show the impact on the project and how you are working to mitigate the risks and conquer the challenges.
Ensure that you are honest about the issues and give them updates on what you are doing to resolve them. This will show that you are proactive and make the stakeholders trust you more.
6. Structure the Report Clearly
A report that is well structured makes it easier for readers to find the information they require. Begin your report with a succinct executive summary that provides a bird eye view of the status of the project. Follow with sections that show different aspects of the scheme such as milestones, progress, budget and risks. Consider using headings, subheadings and numberings to build a logical reading flow and enable easy navigation through the write-up. Check out this site for more information on how to structure a report: https://library.leeds.ac.uk/
7. Use Visuals and Graphics
Visual aids can greatly improve the impact of reports and how easily the reader understands it. Use graphs, charts or diagrams to present trends or complex data in a manner that’s visually appealing. Visual representation helps to pass across information more effectively and enables the reader to quickly grasp important points at first look.
Project management reports as we said before is one tool that a PMs uses to keep stakeholders abreast of what is going on per time with any type of project. Writing these reports can be easy if you follow basic guidelines.
The 7 tips we shared above are not exhaustive but include the basics that anyone that writes reports often needs to know. In addition to knowing what to write, ensure that you put out these write ups regularly even before the stakeholders ask for it. Also do not forget to ask for feedback from stakeholders because it will help you make improvements that align with their expectations.