In my last post I discussed the lost art of writing a status report and why that is a big loss. It’s a shame because nobody intended to reduce the value created. They simply turned it into a burden to get done instead of a tool to help them. So what was missing? In this post I’m going to share my status report format and how I use it. To get started I recommend downloading the template at the end of this post.
Status Report Sections
I state my goals and provide an assessment of whether I am on track to complete them. There is no discussion of what I’ve done, that’s only relevant if it is a strong indicator of progress. For example I am on track because I completed a critical milestone on time.
What went well since the last report. Keep it positive, no buts. If you are like me each accomplishment can have a cloudy lining. Don’t fall into this trap, there’s plenty of room for being critical in the next section.
What didn’t go to plan and why not. What happened? Were my assumptions too optimistic? Did I miss a key risk? This is where we can learn to become better planners and estimators.
I keep a running list of problems and designate them as new this week, ongoing or resolved. I reflect on how things are or have turned out. Am I being overly optimistic or pessimistic?
I like to start by assessing the completion of my plans from the prior week. Did I do what I planned to do? Why or why not? Again, this is critical to becoming a better forecaster. Once I’ve graded last week’s plans, I start a new set of plans for this week. I might carry over some of last week’s plans if they are not complete.
That’s all there is to it. It’s not rocket science but it takes discipline and motivation to do it. I always feel the lightening of my load when I’ve completed it. Now everything is written down, I don’t have to carry it around in my head. Like all things, it will get easier and more valuable with practice. Don’t be afraid to update the sections as you find out what works for you.