Status Reporting is the biggest annoyance

Organisations that run many projects at the same time need to constantly keep track of the status and potential issues in all their projects. A project office is often created that acts as a hub for all projects in the organisation. When Webforum talks with various companies, the topic that comes up again and again is that updating the status of the project is one of the biggest annoyances during the course of a project.

In order to get an updated picture of the project’s progress project offices are forced to frequently chase the project leaders to give their status. This is an ongoing cycle which wastes both time and energy, which could be focused on more vital tasks linked to actual project delivery.

Avoiding unstructured collaboration

The main reason for the problems is often that project status updating is done as a separate process that is not part of the regular project cycle, but rather comes as an ad hoc request from the manager. Sometimes this is handled through a status update entered in a separate tool from the main project management tool, creating an even larger overhead and barrier to adoption when you need to remember specific login information and location, not to mention the need to manage additional systems.

Confidence decreases, irritation increases

This manual chasing of project status, leads to a huge frustration in many companies and organisations with long-running projects and a there is always the uncertainty whether the information is up-to-date or not. Often this becomes a real hindrance where the project office risks losing confidence in understanding the current project status when they constantly have to nag people about updating the project status, but also the senior management team can doubt whether they have a true picture on the project’s progress.

Three steps to achieving effective project tracking

To solve this problem, you can work with either the “push” or “pull” approach.

Status Reporting using a smart “pull” approach

Push, the usual method, means that resources are pushed to addressing the problem. For example, this takes the form of individual employees who are communicating with project leaders about the status of the project give an update for them. This is an option but a costly and inefficient solution. The harder way to boost participation involves management giving a directive with deadlines and impose sanctions if these are not met. A not very pleasant solution, which is also not very effective.

Pull, the nasty way, involves a “name and shame” exercise where those who have not followed the directives are exposed. It is not a particularly good way of promoting a positive company culture, but it depends on what works for your organisation. Looking instead for a friendly way to create the pull, we are now looking at something altogether more interesting. This means that the benefits of an updated information solution – and its use – are shared with the project leaders. Status Reporting completed in real-time in meetings and where it can be lifted directly from the tool to be used for direct reporting to management.

Finding a project management tool that meets your needs

It would be best to put a tool in the hands of project managers which is not too simple and equipped with the necessary features and support, but that is also not a huge and complex system that is hard to work with. The tool should provide genuine support to the team, enabling a professional way to collaborate on projects to achieve the desired results. A solution should also be provided for the accumulation of information, making it easy to compile status reports for project portfolios to management. Status Reporting thus becomes a natural part of the project work and combined with bringing the information to life by creating effective communication streams and a work routine.

Systematic project management

To allow the project manager to freely choose their own project management tool will become problematic. It creates a jungle of different formats and ways of working, and at worst of all it will also be difficult to compile status reports as they may look completely different. Project team members, who are often involved in several different projects, are also negatively affected when they have to keep track of various login to any system which can be frustrating. Over an entire business, this can create significant hidden inefficiencies.

To achieve good project results – be sure not to lose the opportunity for effective tracking and make it happen through a reasonable process of status reporting which is embedded into the project model template and other standard steps. Make sure to work with a tool that strikes the right balance on the one hand between being too easy and on the other too complex and expensive. The objective should be to support collaboration and to achieve the goals. Keep in mind that the tool has support a portfolio of projects, making it easy to accumulate status reporting when all the information is gathered in one place and in the same format.

Good luck with delivering your projects!