When a company initiates a new project, it needs to be aware of how the project is progressing, what findings and decisions are being made by the project team, and what needs to be improved. In order to provide the company’s supervisors with such information, progress reports are usually written. Generally speaking, a progress report is an update on a project’s status. A well-written progress report is beneficial both for the company and for you. The company gets accurate real-time information and you can count on adequate staffing and financial assistance with the project you are working on.
Steps for Writing a Progress Report
- Write the heading of your progress report. This usually contains the date, when the report was submitted, the name and the position of the recipient, the writer’s name and position, and the subject of the report.
- Compose the introductory section. In this part, you must brief about the project. Then, you should provide readers with information about the project’s purpose, clarify its timescale, and remind readers about other important details.
- Write the “work completed” section. In this section, you must describe what work has already been done. One of the best ways to do this is to order the completed tasks chronologically. Make two columns. In one of them, specify dates and in another one, specify tasks you and your team were working on. Information about key findings should also be included in the “work completed” section.
- In the next section, specify the problems your team encountered while working on the project. Provide explanations of how you solved them or how you are planning to do it. Also, describe any changes caused by these problems and state whether any assistance on the project is required.
- Provide your supervisors with information about how you are planning to move forward with the project. Make an outline of future tasks that need to be accomplished during a certain period. Specify dates that will be deadlines for the tasks.
- Summarize your progress report. In the summary section, you should only give the most essential details about the completed and to-do work. Also include a short description of problems your team encountered and recommendations for their correction.
The topic of a progress report is usually determined by recent work you and your team have done. However, when composing a progress report, each time you schedule your work and outline tasks for the next period of time, you assign topics for your next reporting document.
Key Points to Consider
- Progress reports come in different formats, such as a brief verbal report, a periodic email sent to your supervisors, a memo, or a formal written report with a clearly-defined structure. Internal progress reports can be submitted in memo format, while reports from one external organization to another can take the form of a business letter.
- Progress reports not only inform supervisors about a project’s status, but they also affect the decision-making process. A company’s management may revise, adjust or change their decisions according to a particular situation with the project.
- A progress report should be project-centered, which means it should refer to the work done by your team and not to the plans or expectations of your supervisors.
- A progress report should be simple and concise. Avoid writing lengthy, dense documents. In most cases, a progress report is submitted on 2-3 pages.
- A progress report not only provides decision-makers with necessary information, but it also shows them what kind of specialist you are.
Do and Don’t
Common Mistakes When Writing a Progress Report
– Using expressive words and phrases to characterize the situation. Describing a project’s status as a “complete catastrophe” or a “giddy success” is too vague and won’t be of use for supervisors.
– Being irregular with sending progress reports to supervisors. Most likely, they will expect you to send reports in equal time intervals.
– Glossing over problems and understating their prevalence, hoping to solve them secretly. Always provide adequate and honest information about all issues that occur during the work on the project.
– Turning a progress report into a lengthy document. Don’t supersaturate the document with excessive details, research digests, calculations, and so on.
Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic progress report essay writing tips and rules, you can check out our progress report samples to link theory with practice.
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Samples for Writing a Progress Report
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Falling efficiency, lack of focus, no drive. Sounds like I’m talking about spring avitaminosis, right?
No, these are the things that can happen to companies. There comes a stage when productivity falls below a critical level. As is the case with our bodies needing the right mix of nutrients to get better, we should give our companies proper treatment if we want them to succeed.
Though we at Weekdone aren’t so arrogant as to call ourselves ‘company doctors’, there is a simple enough cure we’ve successfully tested.
Progress report. (sample template)
Progress report is up there among the best management tools you can use to kickstart your company’s productivity. A great way to automate it is to use a special software tool like Weekdone – it's free to get started and try it out. The information in these reports allow employees to stay coordinated and map progress while taking into consideration both company goals and their personal objectives.
On the other hand, we often overlook the fact that not many are familiar with the advantages of progress reporting.
We’re here today to rectify it.
Progress reports used by teams encourage engagement and transparency. According to American Society for Training and Development, having a specific place to check in on your progress increases probability of meeting this goal by 95%.
For managers, progress reports offer concrete information about employees’ contributions. It encourages the exchange of ideas and opinions. In truth, it is a very simple form of two-way communication. With some guidelines and basic understanding of the format, everyone can file an excellent report on his own.
Also read how one of our clients uses progress reporting to stay connected
The foundation of every good progress report is PPP methodology, something Weekdone software is built on. This translates into Progress, Plans and Problems. This may seem overly simplistic, but there is a deep framework hidden underneath.
As Cleve Gibbon aptly put it, PPP is “rich in stuff, low in fluff”. His opinion is shared by the likes of Emi Gal (CEO of Brainient) and Colin Nederkoorn (CEO of Customer.io), both of whom use PPP to organize and streamline their respective enterprises. Even companies like Skype, Ebay and Facebook picked up on the benefits of PPP.
So what does PPP entail exactly?
First of all, Progress which lists employee’s accomplishments, finished items and closed tasks. This category gives a good assessment of how much work has been done at this point.
Plans are immediate or long-term goals and objectives. All of the items listed under Plans are potential items of Progress. However, leave room for changes and accept that your plans are not set in stone.
Lastly, Problems list encountered challenges and pitfalls. Some leave correcting mistakes for last, but it is highly recommended to do this throughout the project.
When you keep in mind these three things, you already have what it takes to write a simple report. When you first log into Weekdone after signing up, these three categories are the ones in the default weekly status update form. Furthermore, if you really want to succeed in communicating the details and nuances of progress reports, you have to take note of three questions: Who, How and What.
The most important part of progress reports is your team. Michele Puccio, Sales Director of Arrow says that progress reports helped him “stay connected with the team”. This is why your immediate focus should be on your colleagues and team dynamics.
Reports need to be concise and focused, so you should understand what your colleagues want to be included in your report. To help yourself with this task, ask some questions:
- How are the readers connected to the project?
- Do they know the details and goals of the project?
- Are the readers comfortable with technical language?
Next, consider the tone of writing. Managers and executives may not understand the intricacies of employees’ conversational style. Use longer, comprehensible sentences but also try to refrain from writing essays. Ideally, there should be 5-7 keywords per sentence.
You can look at a sample report for further guidelines and inspiration. Remember that the modern world is metrics-driven, so figures are more important than descriptions.
Instead of writing “we need to increase the output” try “we need to increase the output by X%”. Concrete goals are more inspirational and, at the same time, more attainable.
The one mistake people tend to make when writing a progress report is avoid writing about mistakes altogether. The purpose of progress report is to objectively identify key difficulties and concerns and mitigate them along the way. Even if the problem was already overcome, it needs to be put into writing to help avoid making the same kind of blunder in the future.
Secondly, keep in mind the relevance of your writing. Explain how every individual item connects and compares to the progress.
Keep It Simple
Even when the progress seems small and changes are minimal, keep updating your reports. It enables transparency on all levels and can help assess challenges and plan next actions accordingly.
Going back to our interview with Michele Puccio, he shares this example of how progress report influence your performance:
"In the beginning of the week, you decide to call 5 new customers. You write it down and have it under your nose. By the end of the week, you will call 5 new customers. You have made the commitment, communicated it to the rest of the team, and now need to honor this."
Progress reports are made to save time for everyone, so it is illogical to spend most of your workday on writing them. This can be easily mitigated with reporting tools. Many teams have found the combination of Google docs and email to do the job well enough.
Although, it is better to use tools that were specifically developed with this in mind and allow to automate the process of writing reports. Availability and accessibility are keys for an excellent progress report, so be sure to check out Weekdone to make reporting a breeze.
The key to progress reports is regularity. Progress reports need to be done at least on a monthly basis, though weekly is a predominant way at the moment. With a notification system integrated in Weekdone, you ensure that everybody remembers to send their reports in time.
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