Whenever a company starts a project, it wants to know the progress of the project, the research being done by the project team, their decisions, and the scope for improvement. A progress report is a written document that is intended to provide all such information to the company’s management. In general, a progress report gives an update on the status of the project.
If you want to write a report for your project, here are a few simple steps to help you with the process:
Select the topic
The topic of the progress report is generally decided by the recent project that you and your team are doing. However, during the report writing, whenever you plan your task and outline work for the next time frame, you have to assign a topic to your next report.
Compose the title of the report
The heading or the title contains submission date of the report, name and designation of the person to whom the report is addressed, name and designation of the writer, and the topic of the report.
Write the introductory paragraph
This section presents an overview of the project, the purpose of the project, its timescale, and other important details.
Create the “work accomplished” section
This section describes the tasks that have already been done. The description of the completed tasks must be recorded in a chronological manner. You can make two columns – one for the dates and another one for the tasks that you were working on. Give details about key observations and conclusions in this section.
Describe the challenges faced during the project
The section specifies the challenges that you faced while carrying out the project. Explain how you dealt with the problems or how you plan to do it. In addition, give details of any changes that had to be made because of these challenges and mention if you require any help on the project.
Provide a plan of action for the future
You need to explain to your seniors how you plan to move ahead with the project. Prepare a summary of tasks that must be completed over a certain period of time. Mention dates that will serve as deadlines for these tasks.
Sum up your progress report
This section offers only essential details regarding the work accomplished and future work. In addition, provide a brief description of the challenges you faced and suggestions for their rectification.
Types of progress reports
A progress report records a list of tasks that have been done and that still needs to be done on a project. It demonstrates the progress that has been made on the project so that the company’s management can see at a glance the status of their project. Progress reports can be prepared in different formats, but there are three main formats that the majority of people use for writing their progress reports. These are:
- Memo: A progress report can be written in the form of a brief memo that can be shared within a company. For example, you can submit a progress report to your boss, and he’ll distribute copies of the same to other project members. So, if your progress report will go out to your boss and coworkers, you can probably write it as a memo. Given that all of them are working at the same office, you can choose to write the report as a note.
- E-mail or letter: You can also choose to write progress reports in the form of an e-mail or as letters. These reports are also short, just like memos. However, the difference between a memo and an e-mail is that you can share the latter with people outside of the organization too. So if you want to submit your report to your boss and also share it with the company’s client, you can send the report in the form of an email. Email is a convenient format and everyone can save an electronic copy for future use.
- Official report: Though they both serve the purpose, memos and emails are informal reports. A more formal format is writing an official report. This report is long and often presented in a folder or a binder. Official reports are generally used when the progress reports need to be shared with people outside of the organization. For example, if you were sending a progress report to the client, you might choose to do so in an official report.
Important points to remember when writing a project report
Progress reports have many functions. They reassure the seniors of the progress that is being made in a project (or update them of holdups). In addition, they can also be used to determine and formalize the responsibilities of each team member, fix a work agenda for the project, and talk about possible challenges in the project’s timeline.
In school projects involving writing, students are asked to write progress reports. These reports summarize your progress to the teacher, who will usually give view on whether or not your progress is satisfactory. Progress reports are critical papers in science and engineering, where you have to submit a report as a part of your research team to a funding organization describing your progress on the task you are performing for that organization. It’s an important document that must be prepared with precision and planning.
Here are a few points to consider while writing a report:
- Progress reports can be compiled in different formats like a short verbal report, an email sent on a periodic basis to the seniors, a memo, or an official written report with a well-defined structure. In-house progress reports may be compiled in memo format, but the reports that are sent from one organization to other must be in the form of a business letter.
- In addition to informing seniors about the status of the project, progress reports also play a role in the decision-making process. It helps the company’s management to revise, fine-tune, or modify their choices in keeping with a situation that arises during a project.
- A report should be focused on the project and talk about the work accomplished by your team and not about the expectations or plans of your seniors.
- A report should be prepared in a succinct and concise manner. There is no need to use complex jargon or lengthy documents. In most cases, a report contains 2-3 pages.
- A progress report reflects your abilities as a manager and decision-maker. Therefore, only include pertinent information about the tasks and how you plan to go ahead with them.
Writing a report is beneficial for the company as well as the project manager. The company will get correct real-time information and the managers can be sure of the financial support and adequate staffing on the project they are working on.