Project Management Reports You Need
By Jennifer Whitt
Two of the biggest questions I get from people are: what exactly are project management reports, and which ones are the best ones to look at? Project management reports are views of data collected related to deliverables and timelines for projects that we manage. Most PMs manage a portfolio of projects, meaning there is a considerable amount of data to track. Since I feel that the devil is in the details, here are five reports that I have found can turn a failing project into a successful one.
- Timesheet Report
The timesheet reflects all your projects and time reported by the resources for those projects. It allows you to track actual time against that which was allocated and approved time for in your budget. It’s helpful for not only the manager to look at this, but I also share timesheet reports with teammates or anyone reporting time on my projects, because they are accountable for what they are reporting. I recommend that people report time weekly, but it’s more valid if people track their time real-time.
Expenses can kill projects if not tracked. A project manager may think the job is going well until everyone reports expenses at the end, at which point it quickly turns into a failed project because people did not report their expenses real-time. Expenses include:
- Contractor time
- Travel expenses such as airfare, cabs, hotels, meals, etc.
- Supplies – i.e., if there are presentations that you have to do for your executive team, those supplies are purchased and charged towards your project.
- Equipment – some project teams are allocated in certain project areas; they may have to order equipment such as printers, additional laptops, etc., that have to be accounted for.
- Rent/Facilities – some project teams may rent out or lease office space that has to be accounted for on your projects.
Track expenses real-time so that they don’t hit your project at the end and cause failure. Those who may want to look at expense reports would include you as the PM, those who approve expense reports, and anyone who posts expenses to your project.
Resource Work Load Report
Just like the timesheet allows you to track actual versus estimated so you can look at variances, the resource work load report is also very important for the project manager to look at. Team members may also benefit from the insights of this report because they are actually estimating the work and tracking actual time. They need to be able to look at their own work load and bring attention to where they may be overbooked.
The resource work load report looks at what you have budgeted for. If two people have the same skills set it may be possible to reallocate some work to other resources. If overlooked, these are things that can cause a project to become over budget.
Most project managers are managing multiple projects; personally, I like high-level insights into my portfolio such as milestones and statuses. If something is red, signifying a project is off track, it compels me to take a closer look at the details of the project.
Project Status Report
There are multiple formats for viewing data, but I am a very visual person who likes graphs. Graphs can be circular; or, they may be histograms that color code different information. Or you may prefer data in a spreadsheet format. These are some of the items I look at in a project status report:
- Work that is completed or late, and when is it scheduled to be completed
- Schedule variances
- Cost variances
- Risks – making sure those risks are being attended to
- Issues – making sure those issues are being escalated as needed
- Changes – what changes are coming up or need to be evaluated by the change control board
I share project status reports with my change control board at the level they prefer, which may be a high level view of the data, and then I may provide a more detailed view of status to my team members. Today’s software allows you to customize how data is presented.
Looking at data through project management reporting gives you important insights into your project, and can show you what’s off and on track. Keeping track of project details can mean the difference between a failed project and a successful project.
Jennifer Whitt, PMP is a speaker, trainer, Certified Performance Coach, author, and company president of PDUs2Go.com. She is a PMI-certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and knows how difficult it can be to make time for classroom or online learning so she has developed a new way for Project Managers to Earn n’ Learn while on the go. For more information, please visit http://www.pdus2go.com