How to Write a Project Management Report

how-to-write-a-project-management-report

Project management reports are a versatile tool within every manager’s toolbox. Reports can be used to shared information with vendors, clients, members of the manager’s inner circle or departments beyond the initial scope of the project.

Lasting Value of Reports 

So, what’s the real value behind reports? Why should you bother typing up a report that takes time away from engaging new prospects and coordinating among your team’s inner circle?

The answer is that reports can help managers keep a historical record of budget constraints, impending deadlines and the job duties of each team member. Reports are just a great touchstone to get other managers, vendors and a larger audience on the same page.

Reports are also invaluable in conflict resolution and give managers the chance to improve their own leadership skills. On the more micro level of inner-team organization, reports can keep employees engaged and motivated to fulfill their goals.

Writing Better Reports 

Simply put, a project manager who can streamline his communication skills has an edge when it comes to scheduling and carrying out short-term goals and embodying long-term career success.

Under project management theory, project managers struggle against the constant threats of funding limitations and providing deliverables to clients ahead of schedule.

OK, that’s interesting, but where does report writing factor in? When project managers take the time to apply a few basic principles to their report writing – proper formatting, putting the audience first, and clearly outlining reports – the entire project management cycle improves since everyone understands their role and has an ironclad reference to go back to.

All reports drafted by project managers, in short, should have a few features in common:

  • Audience-centric writing

You need to determine the core audience for your report writing since this will inform the report’s tone, formatting and underlying purpose. A report written for other employees within your own department is going to emphasize different facts than one that is geared towards the owner of your company or individual vendors. Isolating out your audience from the outset will help with formatting and staying focused later.

  • Concise and actionable

Employees, vendors and clients are far more likely to heed your advice if you lay out the facts then tell each team member what his or her specific job for the day is. Keeping reports tight and concise allows your audience to quickly find the information that they need and ultimately carry out the tasks that they’re paid to carry out. It’s just a fact of life that people normally want to succeed but they need direction as well as motivation to consistently do so. Report writing can help provide that guiding hand.

  • Just the facts, ma’am

Bearing in mind that one of the driving aims behind report writing is conveying hard information and spurring on action, a report that downplays opinions and hairy-fairy interpretations in favor of cold-hard facts is a winning strategy. When you winnow your writing down to the facts, you’re enabling reports to work their own magic – to act as a reference and motivator for employees and clients alike. Facts are also much harder to dispute later when it comes to conflict resolution.

  • Respect your audience’s time

Your audience is going to find your report more useful if you make sure to break up the content into sections. Introduce the topic, mention the project’s methodology and get into the project’s early successes and areas for improvement. Mentioning the report’s two main findings at the beginning of your summary can also help even more time-strapped speed readers get the picture and take effective action sooner.

The Advantages of Project Management Software

the-advantages-of-project-management-software

Two of the largest hurdles that project managers find themselves constantly struggling against are finishing projects ahead of schedule and ensuring that projects come in under budget.

Benefits of Project Management Software 

Project management software addresses both of these concerns by enabling project managers to automate processes that would otherwise be prone to oversights, errors and a mismanagement of resources.

Through streamlining the planning and resource allocation phases of each project, project heads can feel confident that cost control and resource allocation processes are optimized and documentation is made every step of the way.

The magic behind most project management software packages starts with the ability to visually depict and juggle each project’s phases and those phases’ interconnections.

From there, project management software provides managers with the scheduling resources and resource allocation tools – particularly for your most valuable resource: your own employees – needed to reach your project’s deadline ahead of schedule and under budget.

Project Management Software Must Haves 

All project management software packages, though, are not created equal. Some excel in areas that others lag behind in while other packages are well-rounded planning, scheduling and cost control powerhouses.

Microsoft Project 

An example of a piece of project management software that does particularly well on the planning side is Microsoft Project.

Microsoft Project is part of the company’s enterprise project management system, and this software can help managers proactively gauge the project’s progress and monitor workloads in real time for optimal resource allocation.

Microsoft’s project management software is a great example of a package that gives you collaborative tools to coordinate between members of your team while presenting a project manager’s inner circle with an incredible sleek user interface.

https://products.office.com/en-us/project/project-and-portfolio-management-software

OmniPlan 

While Microsoft Project is arguably the project management software par excellence for PC users, a very popular option among Mac users is OmniPlan.

OmniPlan – a clever portmanteau of “omniscience” and the ability of managers to adequately “plan” and efficiently allocate resources – puts simplified project visualization tools right at the fingertips of iPad and Mac users.

Project tracking and an incredibly intuitive interface makes OmniPlan a crowd favorite among project managers around the country.

https://www.omnigroup.com/omniplan

Basecamp 

Although the two packages listed above are probably the most popular options for PC and Mac users, respectively, these pieces of project management software might be outperformed in certain niche areas by companies you haven’t necessarily heard much from recently.

Basecamp, for instance, is a relative newcomer on the project management software scene since it specializes in the task management phase of every project and is mainly accessed through mobile app.

This particular project management software is usually taken up by freelancers, small shops and medium-sized businesses eager to leverage and coordinate human resources to meet ambitious deadlines. Best of all, Basecamp requires absolutely no IT technical support and is fully cloud-enabled – and over 99.9% uptime isn’t too shabby either.

More Helpful Features 

Although getting everyone on the same page and coordinating the job duties of every team member is an essential side of resource allocation, perhaps as important is keeping an accurate tally of all documentation. Ensuring that documentation is secured in the cloud and accessible by all relevant team members should also be a feature of a well-rounded project management software package.

Even though web-based tools like GoogleDocs can help managers disseminate and store documents, project management software with built-in document storage tools greatly simplifies the process while offering the other benefits mentioned above. GoPlan and DotProject are two additional management framework tools that can make sure your next project starts (and ends) on the right foot.