Status Reports Can Provide Tell-tale Signs of Project Management Competence
By Kiron D. Bondale
And you thought status reports were just useful for keeping stakeholders informed of project progress!
Although there are many ways of assessing a project manager’s skills including formal examinations, the perceived success of the projects they have managed and post-project 360 degree feedback surveys, a review of their project status reports might provide additional clues that might not have been gleaned through these traditional measures alone.
Here are a few development areas that might be identified:
- If there are multiple spelling or grammatical mistakes in a sample report, this could point to a written communications skills gap, a lack of attention to detail, or both.
If the executive summary section of the report focuses too much on minutiae, runs on for more than a few paragraphs or doesn’t provide enough ”meat”, this may reflect the inability to tailor communications to the needs of a specific stakeholder community.
If health indicators are yellow or red but there are no issues or risks documented in the report which support of these ratings, this could reflect either a lack of attention to detail, or a lack of judgment.
If the issues or risks listed provide no clear understanding of their business impacts, if the response or resolution strategies are high-level or non-existent, or if the issues or risks have obviously been replicated from a previous status report without any attempt made to update them to reflect current status, this may be a sign of ineffective risk or issue management skills or a lack of attention to detail.
While a single report might help you identify some challenges, a review of a few sequential status reports might also help in determining if the project manager is in charge of the project or is being a bystander. For example, if critical milestones appear to be slipping week-after-week and there is no evidence in the reports of actions taken to avoid further schedule variances, this could be a sign of a weak project manager.
Caveat lector – the fossil record alone can’t provide a fool-proof method of fully understanding the physiology and lifecycle of prehistoric animals. However, used in conjunction with other evaluation tools, a “forensic” review of project status reports can help to provide a more holistic understanding of a project manager’s abilities.
Kiron D. Bondale, PMP is the Director, Corporate Project Management Office at Agricorp.
Kiron has managed multiple mid-to-large-sized technology and change management projects, and has worked in both internal and professional services project management capacities. He has setup and managed Project Management Offices (PMO) and has provided project portfolio management and project management consulting services to clients across multiple industries.
Kiron is an active member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and served as a volunteer director on the Board of the PMI Lakeshore Chapter for six years.
Kiron has published articles on Project and Project Portfolio Management in both project management-specific journals (PM Network, PMI-ISSIG journal, Projects & Profits) as well as industry-specific journals (ILTA Peer-to-peer). He has delivered almost a hundred webinar presentations on a variety of PPM and PM topics and has presented at multiple industry conferences including HIMSS, MISA and ProjectWorld. In addition to this blog, Kiron contributes articles on a monthly basis to ProjectTimes.com.
Kiron is a firm believer that a pragmatic approach to organization change that addresses process & technology, but most important, people will maximize your chances for success.
For more of Kiron’s thoughts on project management, please visit his blog at http://solutionq.wordpress.com/.