By Jessica Fender
Introduction – What is a Project Management Report?
A project management report is one of the essential tools in the project manager’s repository. It is a document that summarizes the purpose of a project, validates its need, and provides visibility on the different tasks, points of contact, resources, project budgets, and timeline allocations. A Project Management Report also serves as a tool that keeps track of all records, decisions made, as well as the reasons and circumstances surrounding them.
The importance of a management report
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Global report of 2015, 66% of adults view entrepreneurship as a good career option, either for themselves or others. There are more than 582 million entrepreneurs1 in the world today, and over 71,000 startups2 registered in the US over the years 2020-2022. In this context, a project management report is one of the most important tools to help enterprises succeed.
You can find 4 easy steps to writing a detailed and well-structured project management report below.
Step 1: Planning and Collecting Information
1.1 Define the purpose of the report
Defining the report’s purpose helps writers align themselves to the subject while writing. It also allows them to know the level of detail that the report needs to reflect. Lastly, it will enable writers to follow a set structure while making their reports.
1.2 Define the audience of the report
The second step is knowing the audience who will read the report. There are different audiences3 such as the leadership, mid-level managers, external stakeholders, funders, or the public. Each of these categories will be interested in seeing different aspects of the project’s progress. Knowing the target audience of the report also helps writers keep their writing style and language relatable.
1.3 Look for pre-existing and past reports for reference
Looking at previous reports will give a good understanding of the expected style, level of details, size, and formatting templates. Such an approach makes the process of report writing faster and easier.
1.4 Outline the report
Outlining is putting together a structure in which the report must be written. It includes adding headings and subheadings, placeholders for infographics, and more. Many global firms also require that a project management report is available in multiple languages. Firms can use translation services for this. However, even the best translation websites expect a detailed report outline and the content that needs to be translated to be organized in a structured manner. Thus, creating a comprehensive and well-structured report outline is essential.
1.5 Outline data dependencies
Any report requires collecting and collating data from different departments. Recognizing data dependencies and communicating them with the concerned teams should be done at the beginning of report writing. This ensures that all the data points needed for writing the report are in place before the actual writing begins.
1.6 Create a table of contents
A table of contents should be created at the beginning of the report, after the outline. By doing this, writers will have a good understanding of gaps in data acquisition, if there are any. They can also use the table of contents to track the progress within each section of the report.
Step 2: Organizing the data
The data in a good project management report is organized4 as follows.
2.1 Executive Summary
An executive summary is a brief overview of the major points covered in any report. Writing an executive summary helps a report stay professional.
An introduction familiarizes readers with the subject of the report. It can contain any historical information or project objectives and validate its necessity.
2.3 Methodology for problem-solving
In this next section, the writer must go into detail on the methods and processes that the project uses. This is called methodology. A methodology section validates the research being done, the conclusions made and the solutions found. A methodology section contains standard operating procedures, quality control techniques, and improvement methods as applicable.
2.4 Overview of resources, budgets, and project timelines
An overview of resources, budgets, and timelines gives a realistic picture of the project. Resources include humans and machines. Budgets outline the amount of money required for the project and the forecasted expenditures. Timelines5 talk about milestones in the project roadmap.
2.5 Conclude with a relevant solution
Lastly, a firm conclusion that proposes some solution and adds value to the report should be mentioned at the end.
Step 3: Formatting the report
Once all the information for the report has been organized, the next step is to format the report in the required manner, as follows.
3.1 Automate and use templates as much as possible
Most enterprises have their templates6 for different reports. Such templates can be created once and then stored and accessed via Microsoft Office, Google Suite, or Overleaf. After that, one can automatically format or edit a particular type of report within said software and save it as the required file type.Check out these proposal templates for reference and choose the best one for your report.
3.2 Use style formatting techniques
Using heading styles enhances the readability of a report. Today’s most text editing software comes with a few built-in style templates. Style formatting is built to cascade – this means that editing one heading will automatically update the style of all titles of that level. It also helps writers to maintain consistency in their reports.
Step 4: Refining the report
4.1 Add infographics and visual aids
Infographics and visual aids7 are excellent tools used to capture readers’ attention. A report that features them will likely be well received. One can easily enhance the quality of reports by using the right visual aids.
Good visual aids help to:
- Summarize the presented data
- Put an emphasis on certain statements.
- Allow the audience to easily grasp the point being made.
- Stimulate visual memory.
- Showcase additional data – charts, graphics, surveys, examples, etc.
4.2 Get early feedback on a first draft
Sharing the first draft for early feedback helps writers gauge the target audience’s expectations better. It saves a writer time and energy and helps to avoid unnecessary iterations of a report for minor changes.
Once the project management report is finalized, one must ask a teammate to proofread the whole report. This helps writers avoid spelling or grammatical errors that they might have overlooked.
In conclusion, while writing a project management report can seem like a daunting task, it is not. By following the steps outlined in the article, any project manager can quickly write high-quality and accurate reports for any target audience.