What Is Project Reporting? (With Steps, Tips and Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Project reports are a useful way for teams and stakeholders to track an assignment's progress. There are a variety of reports that you can create, depending on your team's specific needs. If you're interested in strengthening your team's project management practices, learning how to perform project reporting may be useful for you. In this article, we discuss what project reporting is and discuss the steps that you can take to create an effective report.

Related: A Complete Guide To Project Management

What is a project report?

A project report is a document that allows a company or team to have an overview of a assignment's requirements and progress. It contains data that relates to the development and completion of an assignment. Typically, project managers create reports that are easy to understand, so that stakeholders, clients and members of various departments can understand a project's information.

Why is project reporting important?

Here are several reasons why reporting is important:

  • Provides insight into plan: A project report provides insight into an assignment's intended plan for completion. Team members may refer to the report throughout the project's development to get a better idea of project requirements.

  • Describes project's purpose: Project reporting describes an assignment's purpose, which can provide team members with context for the project's development. For example, if a team is creating software for an elementary school, they may focus on usability features that can help children operate software easily.

  • Assigns duties: Project reports assign duties to team members, which may assist them in achieving goals and producing key deliverables.

  • Describes progress: Stakeholders, clients and staff can have a better understanding of an assignment's progress, and they may identify if a project can meet a specific deadline or if a team may need to set a new deadline.

Types of project reports

The type of project report that you create varies depending on the information that you want to demonstrate and the type of tasks that your team is working on. Here are several different types of reports:

Status report

A status report gives insight into the progress of a project. It shows the rate at which a team is advancing to meet their goals. It also gives insight into if a team can finish their tasks by the original deadline. Typically, project managers can decide if a team requires a deadline extension after reviewing an assignment's status report. Status reports also include details about potential issues that may cause progress to stop for a period of time, or key elements that impact project completion, like industry advancements or changing requirements.

Health report

Teams create health reports for stakeholders to understand the health of a project. This allows stakeholders to see if an assignment is advancing normally, or if there is a risk of a project not hitting the deadline. Upon receiving a health report, stakeholders may identify if they can contribute to the team, like if they can provide the team with more materials or expand their budget. Here are some questions that project managers answer in health reports:

  • Will the team reach the project deadline?

  • What is keeping the team from completing the project on time?

  • What elements of the project are most challenging?

  • What can the stakeholder contribute to help the team reach the deadline?

Related: Primary Stakeholders vs. Secondary Stakeholders: What's The Difference?

Team availability reports

Team availability reports show each team member's functions and duties within a project. This allows other team members to see the availability throughout their team in case of a challenge or crisis where they may need assistance to complete a duty. Team availability reports allow team members to distribute work evenly and ensure that each member can handle their workload safely and efficiently.

Risk reports

Risk reports give teams and stakeholders insight into potential challenges that may keep a team from completing a project on time. This encourages stakeholders to have realistic expectations about a project's completion and it helps teams prepare for issues. Risk reports also allow teams to predict obstacles, which they can use to measure the severity of each issue so that they may prioritize challenges from the most severe to the least severe. These reports also help teams prevent similar issues from happening on future projects, since they may refer to previous risk reports to see the challenges they faced previously.

Time tracking report

A time tracking report helps a team see how much time each member spends completing each stage of the project. They may add up each team member's time to understand how much time the team spends overall on a specific duty. For example, if five team members spend one hour programming hardware, then the entire team spends five hours total programming software. These reports allow teams to see where they may improve their time management skills to boost efficiency.

How to write an effective project report

The specific information that you may include in your report depends on the type of project report you're creating, though most reports include details about an assignment's progress, challenges and purpose. Here are the steps you can take to create an effective project report:

1. Determine your reason for the report

First determine the reason that you're writing the report. Here are some questions that you may ask to help you decide which report to create:

  • What information do I want to convey?

  • Do I want to include information about the project's risks?

  • Who will view the report?

  • What are the key points I want to address in the report?

Related: How To Write a Report for Work (With Examples)

2. Research your audience

Try to keep your audience in mind when creating reports. To research your audience, try identifying who may receive the report. Depending on the audience, you may use different language or terms. For example, if you're writing a report for a client, you might use language that's easy for them to understand. If you're writing a report for your team members, you may use more industry-related terms and technical language.

3. Choose the type of project report

Determine the type of project report that you want to create. To do this, evaluate your team's needs, the stakeholders' needs and the type of project you're working on. For example, if the stakeholders request that you update them on an assignment's progress, then you may provide them with a status report.

4. Include relevant information

After deciding which type of report to create, pull relevant information from your project. Be sure to include the most recent information so that you can create an accurate report. To keep your report brief, try to only include important details. Here's the information that you might include:

  • The original deadline

  • The duties that your team completed so far

  • The duties that your team still needs to complete

  • Potential issues

  • Each team member's duties

Once you've pulled the information to include in your report, insert it into one document. You may organize the information according to importance. For example, if you're providing stakeholders with a risk report, you may include severe risks at the top of the document, then follow with issues that are less severe.

Related: How To Create a Project Management Plan

5. Structure your report

The final step involves structuring your report so that it contains all necessary information and follows an organized format. Typically, progress reports contain four elements, which include:

  • Executive summary: Reports often begin with a summary which includes a brief overview of the report's contents, typically in one paragraph.

  • Introduction: This provides context for the rest of the report and also gives an outline of the document's contents.

  • Body: This section presents important information about the assignment, including issues, team needs and project analysis.

  • Conclusion: You can finish the report by restating information and providing the reader with steps they can take to contribute to the team. For example,a project manager may request that a client give them approval to continue with the next phase of the project.

Project reporting tips

Here are some tips to help you create effective project reports:

Proofread

Before presenting your report to the recipient, be sure to proofread it. Look for any spelling errors or formatting issues, and be sure to ensure that the calculations and numbers within the report are correct. Try having team members look over the report to find any errors that you missed.

Keep a routine

Try keeping a strict routine when creating reports. By doing this, you may have a more accurate view of a project's progress. For example, you may create a health report every two weeks to provide to stakeholders so that they may see how much progress your team completes twice per month.

Related: Guide To End-to-End Project Management and How to Practice It

Use a template

Using a template may help you create project reports more quickly, since it allows you to fill in project details without formatting your information. Use online resources to find a template that works for the information you're focusing on, like you're creating a risk report or health report. If you want to have more control over your formatting and content layout, then you may choose to create your own project reporting template.

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