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Progress Report: How to Write, Structure, and Make Project Progress Visually Attractive
Picture this: Days or weeks into a project, your supervisor asks for a progress report.
Depending on your experience with writing progress reports, you might respond with readiness, anxiety, or confusion. Where do you begin? How do you know you’ve created a satisfactory or even amazing final report? Fear not—the expert team here at Piktochart is here to help.
In this progress reporting guide, we’ll not only give you top tips on how to write a successful report but additionally provide you with progress report templates and checklists to keep you focused on the important stuff. We begin, of course, with the all-important question anyone from a newbie to even a seasoned professional might have: “What is a progress report?”
Table of contents:
What is a progress report, why is a progress report important.
- How to write a progress report
- How to structure a progress report
- Free progress report templates you can edit right away
Progress report checklist
In case you prefer watching over reading, feel free to check out the video summary of this blog post:
A progress report is exactly what it sounds like—a document using simple and straightforward language that explains in detail what has been achieved and what else is needed for project completion. Essentially this document is a status update before the final report, outlining tasks completed by a team member, project manager, or team, along with what else needs to be done.
W hether you need to provide daily progress reports or even quarterly progress reports, this asset outlines the activities you’ve carried out, the tasks you’ve completed, and the milestones you’ve reached vis-à-vis your project plan .
Depending on the scope and complexity of the project, you might need to give a progress report weekly or monthly or for every 25% project milestone.
In terms of audience, a progress report is typically written for a supervisor, colleague, or client. Progress reports can be written from the perspective of one person as well as an entire team or department.
Throughout your career, you’re likely to be creating more reports than you can count (challenge for you: count them and find how many resources you’re using!).
Perhaps you find yourself spending more time crunching data and plugging numbers into graphs than actually working.
Reports don’t have to be as time-consuming as they often are. Progress report templates are time-savers! Get your free Piktochart account so you can follow along as we share more templates below.
We also tapped into the brilliance of Kevan Lee of Buffer in this interactive content experience to help you with your progress report projects.
Dive right in here, and learn some reporting hacks from Kevan .
Sometimes it might feel like writing about your progress in detail is redundant, especially when you’ve been regularly communicating with your supervisor, teammates, and client throughout the course of the project. Like any project manager, you probably think there are more important things to work on.
But this type of professional report is actually quite useful for several reasons.
1. It gets everyone on the same page
Each person who receives a copy of the report will know what has been accomplished and what is remaining. This prevents confusion about what has been or has yet to be done. Additionally, it provides proof and data about the respective project that can be cited and sourced if and when questions arise in the future.
2. Writing progress reports facilitates collaboration
This is especially important when different teams or departments work together. Knowing what another team is prioritizing helps prevent working in silos and also reduces task redundancy. Additionally, progress reporting helps a team identify areas where it can offer help or collaborate with others.
When teams can track progress on where other teams are on the project timeline, project managers get a better idea of the current status. They can reassign resources to make sure everyone is on track to hit the deadline for the current project, which can be tricky if you’re managing remote teams .
If you’d like to learn more about how you can work together with your team on a report, sign up for a free Piktochart account and try our online report maker .
3. It improves transparency and accountability by providing a paper trail
When you submit your report, you’ve placed on record that you’ve accomplished a task or explained why your results were different than expected. Once the document has been accepted, it becomes part of the project’s official documentation.
So, just in case someone accuses you in the future of failing to accomplish a task or not reporting a problem, you can point to the progress report as proof that you did so.
On the flip side, if your project ever gets nominated for an award, you can be sure validators will come seeking documents that explain how the entire thing was accomplished.
4. It improves project evaluation and review
Next time you plan for a project, your team can examine documents, including progress reports, of previous projects to find out what was done right, what went wrong, and what can be improved.
Previous reports can shed light on systemic issues, loopholes, and other causes of delay or failure—both internal and external—that must be avoided or resolved.
5. It provides insights for future planning
When the supervisor knows what tasks have been accomplished, he or she can focus on monitoring progress toward the next stages of the project.
When a report shows that delays have occurred, the supervisor is able to investigate the problems that hindered progress and take steps to prevent them from happening again in the future.
The supervisor will also be able to adjust the project timeline if absolutely needed or instruct teams to double down.
Ultimately, all the valuable insights from the project documentation can increase the chance of success for future projects.
Here is a progress report format example:
How to write progress report s
Have you ever found yourself stuck tapping your pen or staring at a blinking cursor, unable to begin writing?
Writer’s block is not an unusual experience when creating progress reports, especially for those whose jobs typically don’t involve drafting a long document or creating a formal report.
One reason people may find it difficult to write these reports is the thought that they’re not ‘writers.’ Yet, this is simply a negative mindset.
Reports don’t require sophisticated language—in fact, the simpler, the better.
Here are some writing tips on progress reporting:
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1. Think of it as a Q&A
Before you start worrying about your reporting frequency and whether you should provide monthly reports or weekly reports, take a step back and focus on the purpose of the report itself.
In essence, the reporting process comes down to Q&A; you’re answering key questions about your progress. Imagine your manager, colleagues, or client asking you their most important questions, and you’re simply providing them with answers on the project status.
For example, let’s say that you’re organizing a weekend fair with food stalls and music and that you’re put in charge of food concessions.
The project plan might require you to have secured letters of intent (LOI) from at least 10 businesses by the end of the first month.
Your progress report would then outline the companies or entrepreneurs who have sent LOIs, including a description of their businesses and plans for their food stalls. If talks are in progress with other businesses that haven’t yet sent LOIs, you can include that and explain when they’re expected to send in their letters.
On the other hand, if you haven’t met your target, you’d have to explain why but also narrate the efforts you have exerted and the expected timeline for achieving the desired results.
2 . Use simple and straightforward language
This doesn’t mean you can’t use technical jargon.
For example, if you’re in the construction business, you don’t have to avoid using terms like “tender” or “variation” or “risk management.”
But otherwise, speak plainly. Use clear and concise language.
One misconception in business writing is that complexity impresses. In truth, it only causes confusion. Fact is, being able to speak plainly about your subject indicates that you understand your subject matter inside out.
Let’s get specific. One thing that makes business documents dreary is the transformation of verbs into nouns—just like I did there.
If we had to rephrase that to keep the verb, we’d write, “transforming verbs into nouns.” It sounds simpler and gets to the point.
3 . Avoid using the passive voice where possible
Sometimes, you can’t avoid using the passive voice in formal documents that prohibit the first-person point-of-view. But when done well, it helps to make your progress reports more relatable.
Going back to the food concession example, a passive sentence would read: “Research on potential food concessionaires was carried out.”
To make that sentence active, give it an actor (which is the team in this case), as in: “The team researched on potential food concessionaires.”
4. Be specific
A study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience found that when you use concrete words, you tend to engage both the left and right parts of the brain, while the right region tends to remain unstimulated by abstract words.
While the jury is still out on exactly how word meanings are represented in the mind, we can agree that the phrase “a merry sound” doesn’t stir the imagination as much as “tinkling bells”.
“A hot day” doesn’t activate visual imagery as much as “a melting popsicle” does. When a reader’s mind is stimulated by words, it’s less likely to drift off.
Taking the previous example, “researched on potential food concessionaires” doesn’t evoke a visual image. Meanwhile, “built a list of 50 potential food concessionaires” is more concrete, especially when you add details of what food items might be sold.
5. Explain jargon if needed
This depends on who will be reading your progress reports, and if you’re using very specialized jargon that only members of your team would be familiar with.
For example, in a report written by a construction team addressed to the project manager , construction jargon could be used as the recipient obviously understands it.
6. Spell out acronyms when they first occur in the document
Don’t assume that every single person reading the report will understand all the acronyms you use without you spelling them out.
For instance, in construction work, SWMS should first be spelled out as “safe work method statement”. ‘Pre-starts’ should be spelled out as ‘pre-start checks’. So in your report, it would look like this: “safe work method statement (SWMS)”, then all subsequent references are free to just be SWMS.
7. Stick to facts
Avoid providing an opinion, unless it’s part of the project.
For instance, your task might be to analyze data and offer your interpretation and prediction. In that case, you can offer your speculation and point of view, as long as you have evidence to back you up.
8. Use graphics to supplement the text
Avoid writing down a long series of numbers in a sentence. Try using different types of graphs , tables or charts, especially when dealing with a series of numbers.
Here at Piktochart, we have many progress report templates, and the hiring progress report below is a great example.
When using graphs or charts, try out several types to determine which ones best present your data. You might use a bar graph , pie chart , line graph , or even scatter plot . When doing so, though, spend time distinguishing different data sets from the others by using labels and colors.
Don’t worry if this sounds daunting—there are plenty of software that can help you visualize data , including the most basic examples, MS Excel and Numbers for Mac.
How to structure progress report s
You may still be wondering about the exact process of how to write a progress report. Armed with all of these practical tips, how do you put the report together?
First, it depends on the type of report, as well as the intended reader. A progress report may be written daily, weekly, or monthly. It may be written for an individual or a team.
As you’ll see in the examples below, the main parts of a progress report are:
This part provides an overview of the contents of the progress report. It’s best to write this after you’ve completed all the other parts of the report. That way, you’ll be able to provide an accurate summary.
Keep it short and simple. One or two paragraphs will do.
Numbers and details are your friends, especially when writing this section of the progress report. The accomplishments you write should correspond to your goals.
What were your goals for the period covered by the report?
This could be a goal for the day, week, month, or quarter. On the other hand, it could be a team goal, too.
Be concrete when writing goals. For instance:
Avoid providing too much detailed information. The simpler this section is, the easier it is for stakeholders and the project team to see the project priorities.
Explain what situations, if any, prevented you from achieving your goals, or may have hindered the project’s progress.
But don’t stop there. Be proactive and present an action plan and timeline for resolving the roadblocks. Include details, such as funds, materials, and human resources you may need to implement the solution.
Progress reporting templates you can edit right away
To guide you better, here are progress report template examples that are visually attractive and highly readable.
These templates are available if you sign up for a free Piktochart account . Once you log in, use any of the templates below and edit the elements and text to make it your own.
1. Daily progress report s
A daily progress report includes your goals for the day, as well as your accomplishments the previous day. It also explains challenges encountered in performing tasks and achieving goals.
Another section under the daily report is ‘lessons learned’. These need to be directly related to the day’s tasks and challenges, as well as to the previous day’s accomplishments.
2. Weekly progress report
Weekly progress reports provide a week-by-week breakdown of what has been accomplished and what tasks remain to be completed.
Just like a daily report, a weekly progress report may include challenges and lessons learned. Examples are included in the templates below.
To get a better idea of this, let’s go back to the events example:
- Many potential vendors were attending a week-long industry convention; couldn’t book meetings.
- Potential vendors didn’t read the entire email.
- Consider industry events when planning a timeline for contacting clients
- Introductory emails must be short and have readable formatting
3. Monthly progress report ing
A monthly report is necessary for projects with longer durations. The report may provide both monthly and quarterly data on project progress.
4. Team progress report s
Team progress reports provide information on both team and individual milestones and progress status. Now this one is more complicated, simply because it involves several people who may have worked on different tasks.
It’s not enough to just let one person make the report. Of course, one person can do the typing, but everyone must provide input and feedback.
One way to keep a record of different team members’ input is to keep track of edits they have made.
To do this, simply enable tracking of changes on a Word document, or on Pages for Mac users. When working on a collaborative tool like Google Docs , click the pencil icon on the top-right part of the window, and choose “Edits become suggestions” on the drop-down menu. Here’s what that looks like:
On the other hand, team members can insert comments or questions. Again, you can do this easily on a Word document, as well as on software that let you comment on shared documents, like Google Docs and Piktochart .
Here’s what it looks like in Piktochart (learn more about this feature in our guide to annotated comments for teams ):
Here’s one example of Piktochart’s many team project report templates .
One last thing… You’ve finally finished typing up your report—breathe a sigh of relief, but don’t hit ‘send’ just yet.
Go over it at least once (better to do it more than once, especially if it’s a team report). Re-read the article, edit the content as needed, then ask a teammate to proofread with a fresh pair of eyes.
Finish your progress report on time
Be more accountable and efficient with your progress reports using Piktochart’s professional-looking and editable progress report templates.
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How to Write a Progress Report
Definition of a progress report.
A progress report is a report of which the main idea is to present the data on the progress of work done on the achievement of the project’s objectives, the execution of works on time, spending of the budget, and projections during the course of the project. A progress report is an evaluation which provides details about what aims were achieved, which resources were used, which problems were detected, and whether the process would be done on time and according to the budget.
Aim of the Progress Report
Knowing the aim of a paper is important if you want to know how to write a progress reports. A progress report is written to tell a boss, a co-worker, or a client about the progress achieved in the project in a certain period of time. A project may be a design, construction, reparation of something, research of a problem or an issue, or collecting information on a technical subject. A progress report is written when you need more than three or four months for completing a project.
In the progress report, the following things are explained:
- how much work is done;
- what part of work is being done now;
- what should be done in the future;
- what problems or unexpected things have appeared;
- how the project is progressing in general.
Peculiarities of a Progress Report
Progress reports have several important functions:
- They convince recipients that you are achieving progress, that the project will be completed by the expected date.
- They present recipients a brief overview of some results or a particular part of the project.
- They give recipients the ability to evaluate your work on the project and ask for changes.
- They give you the ability to discuss the problems in the project and warn recipients about them.
- They make you set a schedule of work to complete the project on time.
Progress Report Writing Steps
- State the purpose and overall status of the project and define progress report format. After you realized what is progress report, it is necessary to formulate several goals of the project, from which it becomes clear why the project is being conceived.
- Write the background information. Here you may provide all the necessary information about the project that gives an overview of its progress.
- Present the work schedule. When writing a progress report, provide the information about how you are going to move your project forward. Make a plan of your future tasks which should be implemented in the particular period of time. Specify dates which will be the deadlines of the tasks.
- Mark the work completed. In this section, you should describe what work has been already done. One of the best ways to do this is to set your tasks in chronological order. Make two columns. In one column, specify dates, and in the second column, specify tasks which your team has being working on. Also, you should include information of the key conclusions here.
- Mention problems and questions. When writing a progress report, provide explanations on how you have solved problems or how you are going to solve them. Also, describe any changes caused by these problems and indicate whether any help in the project is required.
- Provide additional details and sum up. Indicate only the most important information about completed work. Also, indicate a brief description of problems which your team has faced and recommendations for their correction.
Check out our infographics as well!
Analysis of a Progress Report Sample
A progress report template analysis has been carried out to help you deal with your own business paper. With the following analysis, you can complete your report faster, as it gives you the idea what to include and what to avoid. Check out the following analysis of a progress report example for projects for better understanding the principles of writing a business paper.
Click the images to see their full size.
Progress Report Writing Tips
Check out some tips that will help you to understand how to do a progress report in the right way.
- Create one report for everyone. However, doing this can be difficult. Create one report that will work for all interested parties. Senior managers and sponsors of the project want to check quickly whether everything works well in your report. Thus, you will need to perform at the highest level while writing a report. If they won’t be able to quickly and easily get this information from your report, your report will be considered of poor quality. Good news: if you can present information about the status of the project at its beginning, life will be much easier for you. As soon as you have a format which will please everyone, it will work for most of your projects with slight changes in each project. We hope that after several projects, you will find your own concrete report about the status of the project which everyone will like.
- Include information about the budget. Everyone needs this, especially your boss. Are you looking for budget for a week? Do you forecast according to the factual data? Are you avoiding hidden costs? Keep in mind that interested parties should see the budget in any case.
- You should think about the issue that some managers are not even going to read a brief summary. That’s why you should always offer participants a small overview.
- Forget about words; you should use symbols and colors. For example, you can choose green, yellow, and red circles for indicating key areas of the project status. Of course, it will be convenient for you to inform about the project state. They will be pleased on how easy it is to see whether the project works or not. It is used usually for bosses who want to know in the fastest possible way whether your project is successful or not. Create it according to this method.
- Concentrate on what is going to be further. You should focus on what you have done. You should put all of your strengths on thinking about what is going to be next. Interested people should know what your role was in the project. Those who are assigned a task know better what is going on right now. Presenting this information is important for the success of the project, so make it the most significant part of the progress report.
- A perfect progress report stimulates progress. A progress report should be your tool for successfully launching a weekly status call with a customer. Make it detailed and oriented on the future. You will be surprised on how well your report will be used if you are able to find out how to meet the needs of most people with the help of only one progress report. You will save time every week by creating only one progress report.
- Experts require reports to be drawn up on their work correctly, and for this purpose you should always have a report plan. It is also advisable to prepare a template in which you will enter actual results and data later.
- Regardless of whether the progress report on the work performed in the organization has been approved or not, such reports are subject to storage. The question arises: how long should they be stored? We recommend the following terms of report storage: – the employee’s report on the work performed by him (except for “business trip”) – within 1 year; – a consolidated report on the work of the structural unit – within 5 years.
- If document management is established in the organization, then the approval of the form of employees’ progress reports will be adequate.
Mistakes to Avoid in the Progress Report
You now know how to create a progress report, but you should also know what mistakes to avoid in your writing.
- Using a report to find out who has finished the most tasks. Instead, you should communicate clearly what information is expected.
- Spending time on collecting information over email. Instead, you should use special online reporting programs.
- Asking different questions from various employees. Instead, you should ask the same questions in order to get the most correct information.
- Not sticking to the deadline. A progress report is a rather serious paper for the company, so it should be done on time.
- Writing a lengthy progress report. Instead, your report should be concise and clear without unnecessary information.
- Writing down all thoughts that come to your mind. Instead, make the information relevant for all readers.
- Keeping the information only to yourself. Instead, the information should be available for everyone.
- Using the progress report only like an informative source. Instead, you should give relevant feedback to all employees.
- Treating it simply like a way to monitor progress. Instead, you should demonstrate value to employees.
- Spending time on sending notifications and collecting information. You can instead use a program to automate the whole process.
Increasingly, employers require their employees to report on their work, no matter what kind of work they do, what positions they hold, or how long they work for the company. And, as a rule, this right of the employer is not prescribed in any internal documents of the company. However, the task is assigned and you should complete it in any case. After reading through our post, you have learned how to write a progress report, and writing this type of business paper will not cause any difficulties any more! If you need assistance with a progress report or any other type of academic writing, asking ‘Please, write my paper for me ,’ will let you find help on our site.
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How to Write a Progress Report
Last Updated: May 11, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Ksenia Derouin . Ksenia Derouin is a Business Strategy Specialist, OBM, and Artist based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With over ten years of professional experience, Ksenia works with wellness and social impact sector solopreneurs and organizations to support their business strategy, operations, marketing, and program development. Her mission is to support business owners in building thriving businesses and creating impact so that they can achieve a sense of purpose, career fulfillment, and financial independence. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 436,991 times.
Progress reports are an important part of project management, whether it's your dissertation or a project at work. You'll need to use these to keep your supervisors, your colleagues, or your clients updated about the project you're working on. You'll be focusing on what you've accomplished and what still needs to be done.
Beginning the Process
- Progress report for a research program or project is going to be slightly different than for a project at work. In this case you are more likely to need to cite information and are less likely to need to consider things like cost (although not always).
- A work report for a client is going to read somewhat differently than for a superior at work. You'll need to consider why you're writing this report for them.
- How are your readers connected to the project? How will the outcome of the project affect them? (The connection and how they're affected is going to be different for your superior than for the client, for example.)
- Consider what decision your readers are going to need to make after reading the progress report (what support, money, time are they investing, for example.
- Consider the information your reader is going to need to know to oversee and participate in the project effectively. What technical aspects of the project will they need to know. Are they comfortable with technical jargon?
- A progress report could be a brief oral report at weekly or monthly staff meetings.
- It could be periodic emails to colleagues.
- It could be formal or informal memos to supervisors.
- It can also be formal reports for clients or government agencies.
- When it comes to information for a client or government agency, or thesis review board, you err on the side of formality.
- No matter the formality or informality of your tone you want it to be clear, focused, and honest.
Writing Your Report
- You might choose to do a bulleted list. It's a very clear way to present the material and it's easy to skim and still get the needed information. However, it can be a slightly less formal way of writing a progress report so it might be better to use it for memos to supervisors and emails to colleagues.
- You may also consider adding in graphs or tables. This might be especially good if you're writing a progress report for a project in which you're trying to get funding, or show why you deserve the funding you've been given.
- Adding subheadings to your can make this even clearer, because it lets your readers or audience know what to expect in each subsection. If there is material that they are particularly interested in they'll be able to jump right to that part.
- The heading should include the date, when the report was submitted, the name and the position of the recipient, the writer’s name and position, and the subject of the report.
- Make sure to include: the purpose of the report, introduce the project, remind that this is an update on the progress of the project.
- Specify tasks that have been accomplished since the last report and what tasks are ongoing.
- Discuss problems that you’ve encountered, issues that need to be addressed, and potential solutions for those problems and issues.
- Address changes that have happened and why they needed to be made.
- You can also include things like personnel changes, difficulty in obtaining material, what cost overruns you may have encountered, any delays or problems with technology or security.
- It also helps to provide a timeline of the project with any relevant due dates.
- You really do want to make sure say whether the deadline for the project has changed or not.
- Avoid sugarcoating any problems for your audience, but don’t alarm them unnecessarily or promise anything you can’t deliver.
Avoiding Common Difficulties
- For example: if your project is about reigniting a local, nonprofit arts organization, it might be tempting to go off into a discussion of the deplorable state of arts funding, but it won't really help detail how your project is coming along.
- Depending on who you're writing the report for you might be cut down to a specific page limit. A good rule of thumb is to keep it as short as possible, while making sure that you fit in the appropriate information.
Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.
- Try to judge your supervisor's style. She may have a preference for the types of reports she likes to see. Some may want to see more lists or bulleted information; others will like to know as little as possible to get by. Still others may prefer as much information as possible, no matter how many pages it takes. Thanks Helpful 36 Not Helpful 10
- Be specific throughout the progress summary, but try not to be overly wordy. Thanks Helpful 18 Not Helpful 6
- In order not to be caught unprepared when it's time for a progress report, it's a good idea to record information as you go along so it's easy to put all the information together. Thanks Helpful 8 Not Helpful 6
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Thanks for reading our article! If you’d like to learn more about improving your business, check out our in-depth interview with Ksenia Derouin .
- ↑ https://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/technicalwriting/chapter/progressreports/
- ↑ https://pressbooks.pub/coccoer/chapter/progress-reports/
- ↑ https://ohiostate.pressbooks.pub/feptechcomm/chapter/2-audience/
- ↑ https://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/technicalwriting/chapter/figurestables/
- ↑ https://www.e-education.psu.edu/styleforstudents/c6_p10.html
About This Article
To write a progress report, start by deciding how you want to present your info, like with a bulleted list or a graph. You can also add subsections to your report, which can help keep things clear and easy to follow. Then, write your heading across the top of the paper and include relevant details like the date and subject of the report. Below that, add an introduction using italics to give a brief overview of the report. Next, include details in the body, like specific tasks you worked on, and conclude it by addressing what’s next for your project. To learn why considering your audience can help you write a progress report, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Writing a progress/status report
By michael ernst, january, 2010.
Writing a weekly report about your research progress can make your research more successful, less frustrating, and more visible to others, among other benefits.
One good format is to write your report in four parts:
- Quote the previous week's plan. This helps you determine whether you accomplished your goals.
- State this week's progress. This can include information such as: what you have accomplished, what you learned, what difficulties you overcame, what difficulties are still blocking you, your new ideas for research directions or projects, and the like.
- Give the next week's plan. A good format is a bulleted list, so we can see what you accomplished or did not. Try to make each goal measurable: there should be no ambiguity as to whether you were able to finish it. It's good to include longer-term goals as well.
- Give an agenda for the meeting. Some people like to send this as a separate message, which is fine.
The report need not be onerous. It can be a few paragraphs or a page, so it shouldn't take you long to write. Minimize details that are not relevant to your audience, such as classwork and the like, in order to keep the report focused; you will spend less time writing it, and make it more likely to be read.
Writing the progress report has many benefits.
Writing the report will make you more productive, because it will force you to think about your work in a manner concretely enough to write down. Any time that you spend organizing your thoughts will more than pay itself back in better understanding and improved productivity. When a project is complete, it is all too easy to forget some of your contributions. You can look back over your progress reports to remember what was difficult, and to think about how to work more productively in the future. You may be able to re-use some of the text when writing up your results.
Writing the report will make your meetings more productive. When you have a weekly research meeting, the report should be sent 24 hours in advance, to help everyone prepare. (Two hours is not an acceptable alternative: it does not let everyone — both you and others — mull over the ideas.) Don't delay your report because you want to wait until you have better results to report. Instead, send the report on schedule, and if you get more results in the next 24 hours, you can discuss those at the meeting.
Writing the report will give you feedback from a new point of view. The report enables others outside your research project to know what you are doing. Those people may respond with ideas or suggestions, which can help get you unstuck or give you additional avenues to explore. It also keeps you on their radar screen and reminds them of your work, which a good thing if you don't meet with them frequently. (For PhD students, a periodic report to the members of your thesis committee can pay big dividends.)
Writing the report helps explain (to yourself especially, but also to others) how you spent your time — even if there isn't as much progress as you would have preferred, you can see that you did work hard, and how to be more efficient or effective in the future.
If your meetings are more frequent than weekly, then the progress report should also be more frequent. If your meetings are less frequent, it's a good idea to still send a progress report each week.
Important tip: Throughout the day, maintain a log of what you have done. This can be a simple text file. You can update it when you start and end a task, or at regular intervals throughout the day. It takes only a moment to maintain the log, and it makes writing the report easy. By contrast, without a log you might forget what you have done during the week, and writing the report could take a long time.
Back to Advice compiled by Michael Ernst .
What Is a Progress Report And How Can You Make Them More Effective?
What is a progress report and how can you effectively manage your progress reporting process as projects become bigger and more complex?
At ScrumGenius , a tool to facilitate and automate status reporting and reduce communication overhead, we understand the value of a great reporting process.
As your company and teams grow, your projects also increase in scope and complexity. Various types of reporting, previously done ad-hoc, need to be more systematic and standardized to be manageable.
If you’re a manager, keeping track of progress reports from increasingly larger projects through email can quickly become overwhelming. How can you get meaningful information from your progress reports? Moreover, how can you prevent delays in progress report submission, especially when your team is distributed?
In this article, you'll learn:
- What a progress report is
- Why a progress report is important
- Best practices on structuring progress reports, from using the PPP methodology to setting deadlines
- Progress report format and template
- Why you should automate and standardize your progress reporting process
As you will read, automating your progress reports can drastically reduce the time spent in meetings, help you get meaningful answers, and make your reporting process much more efficient.
What Is a Progress Report?
A progress report is a document that shows the progress that your team is making towards completing a project.
Progress reports give an overview to either a supervisor, a manager, a team leader, a colleague or a client on:
- The status of the project
- The milestones achieved
- Responsibilities of each employee or team member
- The issues faced by various team members
- ...and other important factors that affect project completion
This report is essentially a project management mechanism to prevent issues before they happen, to ensure that the project will be finished on-time, and to keep those involved informed of the project's progress.
How often the progress report should be submitted (e.g. daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) will heavily depend on the project's scope and complexity.
In general, you want your progress reports to provide meaningful insights. Setting a daily reporting schedule for a long-term project may lead to progress reports with surface-level answers.
Therefore, you may want to set a reasonable schedule and give a progress report template with standardized questions on project progress and key issues.
Giving these questions in advance will encourage your team members to think about their responses more thoroughly before handing in the report.
Why Is a Progress Report Important?
The importance of progress reports lies beyond keeping track and managing your different projects happening simultaneously. Progress reports also provide valuable insights on how your team can finish projects more effectively.
Aside from giving an overview of the projects taking place, a well-structured progress report template also allows the project manager to identify key issues affecting the team's productivity and a project's progress toward completion.
These insights can then be fed into a knowledge base, which contains best practices on how to manage and execute future projects.
With the ScrumGenius progress report template, you can effectively track each team member's blockers. You can also see how often they report these blockers affecting project completion.
Of course, a progress report also helps foster collaboration. Simply put, knowing about each other's tasks helps prevent people from doing the same things and reduce task redundancy.
Best Practices On How To Write a Progress Report
1. treat a progress report like a q&a.
A simple way to start learning how to write a progress report is by treating the progress report format as a question and answer sheet on the project's progress. You need answers on the progress, the blockers and the next tasks to do that lead to project completion. Nothing more. Nothing less.
2. Include questions on progress, plans and problems (PPP)
PPP is a management technique for status reporting that focuses on project progress toward completion. Questions related to PPP lead to specific and meaningful answers, instead of generic ones with unnecessary details. It's used by many people at Skype and Apple to get useful and relevant project facts.
As Cleve Gibbon puts it, PPP is "rich in stuff, low in fluff." Here's what each P means:
- Progress - These include milestones, goals achieved, finished tasks and validated items that contribute to project completion.
- Plans - These include things to do, short- and long-term objectives, and other plans that affect project completion.
- Problems - These are blockers and issues that affect project completion.
Each P should have answers with 3-5 items. If your team is having a hard time filling out the progress reports because they're too frequent, you might want to change the frequency they're submitted.
3. Allow meaningful completion of the progress report
An often-neglected aspect of the progress reporting process is ensuring that the information acquired is at a high quality. Two things help achieve this: setting the right schedule and encouraging specific answers.
Setting appropriate deadlines is key. People doing long-term projects that last for a year or more may not want to submit daily progress reports. A wrong schedule might lead to unsatisfactory answers. That said, make sure that you set actual dates for submission. Otherwise, people may always put them as a last priority task.
Moreover, you should encourage formulating specific answers. For example, this can be emphasizing for answers to include relevant metrics, instead of vague descriptions. This helps you track progress more meaningfully.
4. Use section headings to make reading and writing simpler
Add section headings in your progress report format to make the process of writing and reading the report a lot easier. When learning how to write a progress report, section headings help you focus on providing valuable information about the progress, in itself.
The purpose of a progress report is to give clarity on the progress of a project, not to describe every single aspect about what's currently happening in the project.
Plus, the project manager reading the project will have an easier time reading and remembering key elements in it.
With ScrumGenius, the progress report templates are structured in such a way that each progress report has clearly-defined headings.
5. Use simple and straightforward language
Learning how to write progress reports means using a progress report format with a language that's clear and straight to the point. Unless your project requires you to use jargon and technical language, keep your sentences simple, straightforward and easy to understand.
Progress Report Format Template Example Using PPP
Using PPP, a progress report format structure should have the following sections:
- Introduction - This helps understand what project this report is about. Simply ask what they're working on to start the progress report.
- PPP section - This is the main body of the progress report, and it should give enough information on the overall status of the project. As you will read in the next section, ScrumGenius allows you to have an overview of the goals and blockers reported in the status reporting process to derive important insights from.
- Anything else to add? - This section may also provide more holistic comments on how this project is being done.
How to Facilitate Your Progress Reporting Process Through Automation and Standardization
As your projects become larger in scope and complexity, you will need a status reporting tool like ScrumGenius to track and manage your progress reporting process.
Relying on standard communication tools like email and manually sending your team members follow up can quickly become unmanageable. Not only that, manually sifting through progress reports can take time from getting more meaningful work done.
1. Standardize and iterate on your progress report template to gain meaningful insights
To identify patterns affecting project completion and other important project management insights, you will have to standardize the sections/questions in your progress reports. This means sending out the same progress report questions on a project for your team members to answer.
Having progress report templates means that your team can invariably produce answers within the PPP framework. It also allows you to identify outlier responses affecting project progress. With ScrumGenius, you can create custom progress reports or choose from various templates.
Some team members might have run into blockers that you need to urgently address. Or someone might have found a way to more efficiently finish their tasks. Either way, these can be important project management insights for future reference.
Plus, using a template will save you and your team previously spent on formulating a structure for these reports.
2. Automate progress reporting submission
Manually doing check-ins and follow-ups via email or chat is not only cumbersome, but it's also not sustainable in the long-run as your teams grow bigger and your projects more complex.
Set teamwork on autopilot. With ScrumGenius, you can automate your whole progress reporting process by setting automatic regular deadlines on submitting progress reports.
ScrumGenius is integrated with all major chat platforms including Slack, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex Teams. Depending on the schedule you've set them, a bot will automatically send them these questions for people to answer within a window of time.
You can also set the check-in reporting window to cater to different time zones. Read more about this here . This is especially important for globally-distributed teams.
3. Have an overview to see your team's overall progress on various projects
Having an overview of the progress reports helps you identify various patterns affecting project completion. ScrumGenius has a dashboard that allows you to see:
- Participation - How many completed the progress report.
- Goals - How many participants reported their goals and progress.
- Blockers - How many participants are experiencing blockers.
This overview can help you deduce important insights on the aforementioned metrics. For example, you can see what the participation rates are for the various submission windows and act accordingly.
4. Spend less time in meetings by using progress reports
Some studies suggest that executives spend up to 23 hours per week in meetings . With ScrumGenius, our clients have reported a reduction in meeting times by up to 300% ( read the case study here).
Our status reports have provided valuable information that has helped meetings become more efficient and focused.
5. Create a knowledge base for your project managers, teams and new hires
Finally, these project management insights can contribute to building a knowledge base. This is a great way to set up best practices on how to manage and execute future projects more effectively.
It will also be a great resource for new hires to figure out the best processes for your company and how to achieve key metrics that they're supposed to hit (based on past successes).
Take Your Progress Reporting Process To The Next Level With ScrumGenius
A progress report allows you to get important information on project completion. ScrumGenius is a simple, yet powerful, tool that can improve your progress reporting process through automating and standardizing these reports.
Once activated, the ScrumGenius bot sends reminders to your team at a specific time each day to fill out their progress reports.
If you want to make your progress reporting process more efficient, try out ScrumGenius today.
Progress Report: What is it & How to Write it? (Steps & Format)
Want to create a progress report to highlight the project’s achievements? No worries, we have got you covered! Read on…
A quick question – on a scale of 1 to 10, how important is it to regularly keep track and provide project updates to your supervisors, colleagues, or clients? The answer is 12! Simply, because nobody likes being left in the dark!
For any project in a company, people around it need to be well-informed about the project status, the research being done by the project team, their decisions, and the scope for improvement. These updates are an integral part of project management and ensure that every team member is operating efficiently with their goals being met on time.
One way to showcase the status of your project and keep track of it is to write a powerful progress report!
In fact, the American Society for Training and Development shows that having a specific place to check your progress increases the probability of meeting a goal by 95%.
Progress reports are a great place for project managers to inform and engage their supervisors, clients, or associates, about the progress they have made on a project over a certain period.
If executed well, progress reports provide a quick overview of how things are humming along, offering valuable insights to increase productivity, provide the necessary guidance, and quickly solve emerging difficulties.
However, writing a progress report can be a little daunting, especially, when you have a diverse team and various sub-projects to manage. Well, don’t fret! We’re going to fix that. In this blog post, we’ll teach you everything about progress reports, why they are important, and how you can write one that will make everyone say ‘wow’!
What is the Progress Report? (Definition)
A progress report is a document that explains in detail how much progress you have made towards the completion of your ongoing project.
A progress report is a management tool used in all types of organizations, that outlines the tasks completed, activities carried out, and target achieved vis-à-vis your project plan.
In a progress report, you explain any or all of the following:
- The amount of work complete?
- What part of the work is currently in progress?
- The problems or unexpected things that have occurred?
- What work is pending?
- How the project is going in general?
Read more: How To Write An Impressive Project Proposal?
Why are Progress Reports Important?
No project manager wakes up thinking “ I wish I could make reports for my supervisor and team all day” ! We get it. Writing progress reports are not very fun.
However, you know that writing progress reports are part of the deal. Progressive reporting demands talking with your team or client to understand the goals and showcase the information that closely relates to the said goals.
Whether the report is about updating the investors, marketing performance, or resource management. These reports let everyone see what’s going well and what isn’t.
It also assists managers to see the overall success or failure of projects. Furthermore, progress reports help to:
1. Make Information Transparent
The glue that holds together any relationship is visibility and transparency. A well-defined progress report directly presents how your work affects the project’s bottom line and showcases the rights and wrongs!
By adding transparency to your project plan, you can build an unmatched level of credibility and trust with your team and clients.
2. Encourage Constant Interaction
Creating and discussing progress reports results in constant communication and keeps everyone in the loop. Being in constant contact with others on a weekly or monthly basis ensures a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities.
3. Improve Project Evaluation and Review
Previous progress reports will help you in clarifying loopholes, and systemic issues, and examine documents to find out what went wrong, what can be done right, and which area needs improvement.
4. Provides Insight for Future Planning
When a progress report shows all the delays that have occurred, the supervisor or a project manager can monitor and investigate the issue that hindered progress and take additional steps to prevent them from happening in the future.
Read more: How to Write Project Reports that ‘Wow’ Your Clients?
How to Write a Progress Report with 4 Simple Steps?
Progress reports are essential documents for tracking project plans and initiatives, but if the readers and writers are not in sync, these reports can be a hit-or-miss exercise for everyone involved.
Therefore, here are some steps to help you deliver the right information to the right people at the right time.
Step 1. Explain the purpose of your report
There are many reasons for someone to write a progress report. Obviously, for many of them, it’s to brief the progress and status of the project.
Readers might also want to know detailed information about the project’s purpose, its duration, and other important insights.
Step 2. Define your audience
Once you have sorted out the purpose of writing the progress report, consider the type of audience you will be targeting and the details that your readers are going to acknowledge in the report.
These can be, what decisions your readers are going to need to make after reading the progress report, the information they are going to need to know to oversee and participate in the project effectively, etc.
Step 3. Create a “work completed” section
In this section, you should describe everything that has already been done and the best way to do this is to mention the completed tasks chronologically.
You can specify dates, tasks you and your team were working on, information on key findings, etc.
Step 4. Summarize your progress report
In the summary section, provide the essential details about the to-do and completed work. Also, add a short description of the problems your team encountered, recommendations from your supervisor for their resolution, and whether any assistance on the project is required.
Read more: Business Report: What is it & How to Write it? (Steps & Format)
Creating a Progress Report that Stands Out with Bit.ai !
If you are planning to show a progress report that looks exactly like any other bland report, chances are your readers are just going to skim it along the way or won’t read it at all.
Well, to lure your reader’s attention and proudly display the work you have done on the project, you have to make the progress report irresistibly compelling!
How about awesome visuals, accompanied by quality content that could grab the reader’s interest and encourage them to read the whole thing? No doubt, everybody likes reading something easy to grasp and visually stunning!
Luckily, we have got the perfect tool for you that will provide a reading experience like never before and bring your grey-scale progress reports to come alive! A solution like Bit.ai
Bit is a new-age cloud-based document collaboration tool that helps teams create, share, manage, and track interactive workplace documents.
Bit helps you make sure your reports are more than just plain bland text and images. Thus, apart from allowing multiple users to collaborate on reports, Bit also allows users to share any sort of rich media like campaign video, tables, charts, One Drive files, Excel Spreadsheets, GIFs, Tweets, Pinterest boards, etc. Anything on the internet with a link can be shared and Bit will automatically turn it into visual content.
Bit has a very minimal design aesthetic which makes every design element pop, awesome readability, and rich features that will prevent collaborators from messing up any documents and help them rethink the way they work!
Besides writing progress reports, you can easily create other beautiful documents like the statement of work , project documentation, operational plan , roadmap, project charter , etc. in a common workplace for other team members to collaborate, document, share their knowledge, brainstorm ideas, store digital assets, and innovate together.
The best part is that this knowledge is safely secured in your workspaces and can be shared (or kept private) with anyone in your organization or the public!
All-in-all Bit is like Google Docs on steroids! So, no more settling for those boring text editors when you have an excessively robust solution to walk you through!
Still, not sure how Bit can help you create that perfect progress report to woo your readers? Let’s see some more of Bit’s awesome capabilities!
Key Benefits of Creating Your Progress Reports on Bit.ai
Simple, clean UI: Bit has a very minimal design aesthetic to it, allowing a newbie to quickly get on board with the platform. Even though the platform is feature-rich, it does a great job as to not overwhelm a new user and provides a systematic approach to work.
Organization of information: Information is often scattered in cloud storage apps, emails, Slack channels, and more. Bit brings all your information in one place by allowing you to organize information in workspaces and folders. Bring all your documents, media files, and other important company data in one place.
Brand consistency: Focus on the content and let Bit help you with the design and formatting. Bit documents are completely responsive and look great on all devices. With amazing templates and themes, Bit docs provide you with the type of brand and design consistency that is unheard of in the documentation industry
Smart search: Bit has very robust search functionality that allows anyone to search and find their documents swiftly. You can search workspaces, folders, document titles, and the content inside of documents with Bit’s rich-text search.
Media integrations: Companies use an average of 34 SaaS apps! No wonder why most of our time is spent hopping from one app to the next, looking for information. This is why Bit.ai integrates with over 100+ popular applications (YouTube, Typeform, LucidChart, Loom, Google Drive, etc) to help teams weave information in their documents beyond just text and images.
Multiple ways of sharing : Bit documents can be shared in three different states :
- Live state : A live state meaning that all changes that you make to the document will update in real-time. If you are sharing your documents with clients, partners, or customers they will always get your most up-to-date changes.
- Embeds : You can embed Bit documents on any website or blog. Bit docs are fully responsive and render perfectly on your website.
- Tracking : You can track your documents and gather real-time insights to understand how users interact with your content. See how much time users spend viewing documents, scroll ratio, user information, and more.
Our team at bit.ai has created a few more templates to make your business processes more efficient. Make sure to check them out before you go, y our team might need them!
- Training Manual Template
- Brainstorming Template
- Meeting Minutes Template
- Employee Handbook Template
- Transition Plan Template
- Customer Service Training Manual Template
- Employee Contract Template
- Performance Improvement Plan Template
A well-defined progress report is like the pulse of a project! It determines your relationship with your readers, highlights all the updates- big or small, and keeps everyone on the same page. Remember, depending on the complexity and scope of the project, you might need to share your progress report on a weekly or monthly basis for better efficiency!
Once you follow all the steps that are mentioned above, your reports are surely going to feel like a breeze of fresh air to your readers, making you look credible and professional. So what are you waiting for?
Do you write such reports in your organization, if yes, which tool do you use? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @bit_ai
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Bit.ai is the essential next-gen workplace and document collaboration platform. that helps teams share knowledge by connecting any type of digital content. With this intuitive, cloud-based solution, anyone can work visually and collaborate in real-time while creating internal notes, team projects, knowledge bases, client-facing content, and more.
The smartest online Google Docs and Word alternative, Bit.ai is used in over 100 countries by professionals everywhere, from IT teams creating internal documentation and knowledge bases, to sales and marketing teams sharing client materials and client portals.
👉👉Click Here to Check out Bit.ai.
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When a company initiates a new project, it needs to be aware of how the project is progressing, what findings and decisions are being made by the project team, and what needs to be improved. In order to provide the company’s supervisors with such information, progress reports are usually written. Generally speaking, a progress report is an update on a project’s status. A well-written progress report is beneficial both for the company and for you. The company gets accurate real-time information and you can count on adequate staffing and financial assistance with the project you are working on.
Steps for Writing a Progress Report
Compiling a progress report might not be easy. You can try and find some samples on the internet before starting your own work. Reading through a top essay writing service reviews can also help – they usually mention a platform that can provide similar examples. Then you can start your writing, following the next procedure:
- Write the heading of your progress report. This usually contains the date, when the report was submitted, the name and the position of the recipient, the writer’s name and position, and the subject of the report.
- Compose the introductory section. In this part, you must brief about the project. Then, you should provide readers with information about the project’s purpose, clarify its timescale, and remind readers about other important details.
- Write the “work completed” section. In this section, you must describe what work has already been done. One of the best ways to do this is to order the completed tasks chronologically. Make two columns. In one of them, specify dates and in another one, specify tasks you and your team were working on. Information about key findings should also be included in the “work completed” section.
- In the next section, specify the problems your team encountered while working on the project. Provide explanations of how you solved them or how you are planning to do it. Also, describe any changes caused by these problems and state whether any assistance on the project is required.
- Provide your supervisors with information about how you are planning to move forward with the project. Make an outline of future tasks that need to be accomplished during a certain period. Specify dates that will be deadlines for the tasks.
- Summarize your progress report. In the summary section, you should only give the most essential details about the completed and to-do work. Also, include a short description of problems your team encountered and recommendations for their correction.
The topic of a progress report is usually determined by recent work you and your team have done. However, when composing a progress report, each time you schedule your work and outline tasks for the next period of time, you assign topics for your next reporting document.
Key Points to Consider
- Progress reports come in different formats, such as a brief verbal report, a periodic email sent to your supervisors, a memo, or a formal written report with a clearly-defined structure. Internal progress reports can be submitted in memo format, while reports from one external organization to another can take the form of a business letter.
- Progress reports not only inform supervisors about a project’s status, but they also affect the decision-making process. A company’s management may revise, adjust or change their decisions according to a particular situation with the project.
- A progress report should be project-centered, which means it should refer to the work done by your team and not to the plans or expectations of your supervisors.
- A progress report should be simple and concise. Avoid writing lengthy, dense documents. In most cases, a progress report is submitted on 2-3 pages.
- A progress report not only provides decision-makers with necessary information, but it also shows them what kind of specialist you are.
Do and Don’t
Common mistakes when writing a progress report.
– Using expressive words and phrases to characterize the situation. Describing a project’s status as a “complete catastrophe” or a “giddy success” is too vague and won’t be of use for supervisors.
– Being irregular with sending progress reports to supervisors. Most likely, they will expect you to send reports in equal time intervals.
– Glossing over problems and understating their prevalence, hoping to solve them secretly. Always provide adequate and honest information about all issues that occur during the work on the project.
– Turning a progress report into a lengthy document. Don’t supersaturate the document with excessive details, research digests, calculations, and so on.
Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic progress report essay writing tips and rules, you can check out our progress report samples to link theory with practice.
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How to write an effective progress report
As someone who has written hundreds of progress reports, I know that writing a good progress report can keep people in the loop about how your project or product is moving. Additionally, it helps build trust by actively letting everyone know how things are going, what may have changed, and where you may need support. It can be a very helpful tool.
Getting started with writing progress updates can be a little tricky. There are some key steps you’ll want to navigate to ensure that your progress reports are effective, helpful, and meeting the needs of your team and stakeholders.
In this article, we’ll talk about what a progress report is, why they’re important, the elements of a progress report, and more.
Table of contents
What is a progress report, why are progress reports important, activity summary, progress update, challenges and obstacles, next steps and action items, tips for customizing a template, when to update your template, handling negative feedback about your progress report from stakeholders, handling positive feedback about your progress report.
A progress report is a document, usually in the form of a weekly email, that lets key stakeholders and team members who are involved in your project stay up-to-date on how things are going.
These updates can include the progress from this week, whether or not the project is on track, and if any additional leadership support is necessary to keep the project going smoothly and eliminate blockers or challenges.
Progress reports are important because they help build trust in the project team by keeping stakeholders in the loop with clear communication. A good progress report ensures that stakeholders don’t sit and wonder how a project is going.
Another benefit? They can help you spot issues and elevate them before problems stack up and take your project off course. You can also use a progress report to escalate blockers, or potential blockers, to the stakeholders who may be able to assist you in clearing them. Need approval before you move forward with a key part of the project? You can outline that in your update and let everyone know to expect this before it happens.
Progress reports also help keep a pulse on the pace of the project. If you know that you have important dates coming up, knowing that you have a regular time you’ll need to check in on the progress of the project can help you know if you’re on schedule.
If things start to get off track, you’ll be able to course-correct easier. And, since a progress report keeps your stakeholders in the loop, there are no big surprises to anyone if something doesn’t go according to plan.
What’s included in a progress report?
The first important thing is to really understand what your stakeholders want to see in an update. Are there particular parts of the project they might be concerned about and want more detailed insights into how that part of the project is going? If so, you may want to come up with a list and build your outline from there.
A comprehensive progress report typically includes:
- A summary of activities completed by the team
- What progress was made, and how the team is tracking toward their goals
- What challenges there were, if any
- Action items and any next steps
In the activity summary, you can be as detailed as is helpful to communicate to stakeholders. Ask if your stakeholders want either an in-depth or high-level summary of the work that was completed by the team.
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For example, some stakeholders want to be able to see each individual item the team completed. Some stakeholders think that a high-level summary of features is enough information. You can customize the level of detail in your activity summary for your stakeholders and team.
Your activity summary and progress updates might sound similar, but activities are usually more task-oriented while progress is usually either an outcome or progress toward a specific outcome.
For example, let’s say that your progress update outlines that your engineering team spent time writing code for a new feature this week. Your progress report may include details about customer feedback about the new feature that your UX designer gathered.
While it may not be easy to talk about challenges or difficulties during a project, your stakeholders will want to know what challenges came up, how they were handled, if they’ve changed the timeline of the project, and if the team needs any help.
A great way to talk through the challenges section of your progress report is to follow a simple format:
- A brief description of the challenge encountered. This should be no longer than 2–3 sentences.
- A brief outline of how the challenge was addressed
- A clear statement of whether or not the challenge is still being resolved
- A clear ask for help, if help or support is needed
For example, here’s how this might sound in an actual progress report:
Dealing with API challenges with VendorX
This week, we had an outage in production due to a breaking API change that was made by VendorX. The customer impact was that our app was unavailable for 30 minutes. Customers saw an error message. To resolve the issue, we reached out to VendorX tech support and let them know the issue was impacting our app. They were able to resolve it, and our customers no longer have this issue.
At the end of the progress report, you’ll want to give a brief description of what the team plans to do next on the project to keep momentum. This can include the upcoming tasks or activities the team intends to tackle and how this keeps the project moving forward.
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If you are dealing with a challenge, this section may also include the challenge’s impact on progress and how you may need to plan accordingly.
If you’re thinking that sounds like a lot to keep up with, there’s a great way to make it easier — use a template.
Using a template to make progress reports that are quick and easy to read
Progress report templates are easy to create and iterate over time as the needs of the project change. Templates can make writing your progress report faster and easier. Another key benefit of using a template? It’s easier to ask for help from your teammates to help fill in the key details because you can ask them to fill out key sections.
Templates also help your stakeholders know what to expect each week. By sending the same format each week, it can make it easy to know where the relevant information they need will be located in the progress report.
Here is a very simple template on Google Docs that you can use as a weekly progress report. Go to File > Make a copy to download it and, as we’ll go over next, you can customize it how you like to fit the needs of your project:
Progress reports aren’t one-size-fits-all. In fact, they should be customized to fit the needs of your project! Here are some tips to help customize a generic template:
- Make sections clear — Clearly outline the sections of your progress report, and let everyone know what you’ll be addressing in each section. Remember the key sections: activities, progress made, challenges or blockers encountered, and actions and next steps. You may want to include other sections, but you’ll want to include at least those four
- Include other sections as needed for your project — Depending on the type of project, you may also include area-specific updates. If you are building a new software product, you may also include an update on KPIs or customer feedback. If you work on an engineering team, you may need to update on code quality or test coverage metrics. Remember, this is for you and for your stakeholders to communicate, so customizing it to everyone’s needs is important
- Add some fun — Maybe you highlight new learnings, a fun fact, or a customer research anecdote as a part of your update
- Use emojis — Another way to make sections stand out is to add emojis. On a Mac, you can use Control + Command + Space to pull up the emoji keyboard. On a Windows machine, you can use the Windows Key + Period . Add emojis to your sections to add a little fun, and make each section’s purpose stand out visually. Adding an emoji can help visually call out sections. You can also use emojis for whether or not something is on track by using colors and color coding.
- Make updating and reading metrics easy by using tables — If you’re reporting on a lot of metrics , make those easy to update by utilizing tables when and where you can. On the left side, include the name of the metric. On the right, include the number. Voila, an easy-to-read and easy-to-update metrics table
Once you’ve got the template, where do you store it? Ideally, put the template where you can quickly and easily access it and send it. Do you use a document repository like Sharepoint or Confluence? You can create a page that you can duplicate and edit. If you use something like Notion, you can save the page as a template that you can quickly and easily apply to any page within Notion.
Another thing to consider is how you plan to send the update each week. One option is to link to a document repository that has all of the updates linked and just schedule an automated email to send to key stakeholders with a link to the homepage. Another option? Copy and paste the text from your update into an email and link to older updates that live elsewhere.
If you feel trapped using a template, know that you can customize them and change them over time. As the project changed and evolved, so did our progress updates. It’s okay to change them! In fact, sometimes it’s necessary. So how do you know when it’s time to change your template?
- You regularly get questions from stakeholders about aspects of your project that are not answered in the current template
- The project has taken on a completely new direction but you haven’t updated your progress report to capture these new aspects of the project
- You’ve added another team or aspect to the project but their work is not reflected in the template
All of these are signs that it’s time to update the template to include more or different information. This can be a great time to pause and ask your stakeholders what new information would be helpful for them to read about in the progress report.
Incorporating progress report comments
Your stakeholders may have follow-up questions or comments about your progress report. This is great news because it means that your stakeholders are involved and staying up to date! Of course, they may have positive feedback or negative feedback. How do you handle either situation?
You’ve sent out the progress report, and you’re excited to hear all of the positive comments on how much progress the team is making. Then the comments start rolling in, and they are disappointingly not positive. How do you address negative comments from stakeholders?
There is negative feedback about the formatting
Sometimes, stakeholders may have negative feedback about how the progress report looks instead of commenting on the contents of the report itself. This can be a good thing — they have an interest in the process!
Take their feedback into consideration and potentially make updates to the template to make incorporating their feedback easier from week to week. If there’s a way to make the report easier to read, make those adjustments. If data is missing that would help make decisions — and if the data is available — consider adding it to subsequent progress reports.
There is negative feedback about the progress being made
Sometimes, stakeholders will have questions or comments related to how quickly the project is moving or the challenges the team is encountering. Here are some steps on how to handle this when it comes up.
- First, try to understand where the stakeholder is coming from. Are they curious about why a challenge arose? Are they concerned about the progress so far? Are they nervous about missing a critical deadline? You may need to reach out to that stakeholder to understand their concerns or feedback better so that you know how you can help
- Once you understand where the concern is coming from, now you can work to address the stakeholder’s feedback or criticism. If they address a challenge that has come up, it may be a good time to escalate the support you need in clearing the blocker. If they’re addressing that it seems like the project is off-track, reiterate what you or the team are doing to ensure that the project stays on track
- Sometimes, negative feedback occurs because someone is missing context or does not have all the information. In this case, it can be helpful to ensure that the stakeholder understands
When you get positive feedback about the progress you’re making, this is a great time to share that feedback with the entire team and celebrate. There are ways to incorporate this kind of feedback into your team’s rhythms.
One way is to surface positive feedback at a daily standup or weekly team meeting, letting them know that the leadership team or external stakeholders are happy with the progress are cheering you on. If appropriate, inviting a stakeholder to a team meeting and letting them know they’re excited about the progress can be a fun addition.
Conclusion and key takeaways
Progress reports can help keep your stakeholders in the loop, build trust, and keep them up to date about what’s happening within your project. Remember that good progress reports adapt and change as you get feedback from your stakeholders and as the project needs change. Templating your progress reports can help you save time and allow others to contribute as you assign segments to other members of the team.
Remember that you can also keep it fun by adding your touch to it. If negative feedback arises, incorporate what you can. And when positive feedback comes up, remember to pass it on.
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