What You Need to Know About Status Reports to Keep Your Software Projects on Track
One of the essential communication tools when working on a software development project is a Project Status Report. It is frequently updated to reflect the current status of your project. Whether you are a client, team member, or another type of stakeholder, you’ll know what is going on with the project from the status report.
What can you expect to find in a status report?
While not all status reports are created equal, what you need to look for in a quality status report is that the information explains the value you as the client is receiving for your investment. For example, a reliable report may include issues/risks, what has been worked on since the last report, the number of hours billed, and a description of what will be worked on next. Whatever the case, the details of the report can provide much of the transparency you need to remain comfortable with the work the team is doing.
Bonus Tip: A reputable firm will not surprise or deliver to you bad (or good) news solely through a status report. Bad (and good) news is always to be shared verbally or face-to-face before it is published in a report.
What are other benefits of a status report?
The most apparent benefit of the status report is likely that it provides you and your team a look into the status of the investment you’ve made, as explained above. However, here are a few additional benefits that are often overlooked that make status reporting a key to success:
→ A project status report can strengthen the partnership between your organization and the software development firm you are working alongside. First, it is assumed that the communication with the client will be open, honest, and timely and that the information in a status report supports this notion. The report itself does not necessarily ensure this. However, the report is a deliverable and codifies what you are communicating verbally about the project.
→ Various people within an organization that have a stake in a project need to be aware of a project’s status at any given time for a variety of reasons. Seems simple enough, yet too often individuals ask for status updates from people they believe have the knowledge needed to explain status, or may look at disparate reports and systems. By not seeing the status report as the single source of truth, they may be misled by disparate sources when they need to be turning to the status report as the single source of truth. Bypassing or overlooking the status report creates confusion, uncertainty, and escalations up the chain of command that are a distraction to all involved.
→ When it comes to reporting the status of a project, it’s accomplished through a process of calculation, discovery, and analysis of all the dynamics that may affect a project. When all combined, you’ve ensured a holistic view of the project. If you are the project manager, this process can assure that you have the information needed to manage the project, and as a result, you, the client, can be more confident in the management of the project.
In conclusion, if done right, a project status report provides stakeholders comfort in knowing that they have a trusted source of information to efficiently gain an understanding of the project’s status so they can manage their stake in the project.