Are Project Reports Really a True Reflection of Project Progress?

Big Picture – by aloshbennett via Flickr
Guest post by Susan de Sousa
Project managers often hold a position of great importance within a company. The future of an organization will often be determined by the programs and projects they manage, as well as the large budget that can be difficult to afford. Transparency in project reporting via the weekly report is expected to allow senior project management stakeholders to track progress. But does the organisation always see the whole picture?
There are correct and wrong ways to fill out the project management report. Some project managers prefer to only fill out the essential information, while others are more detailed and can write reams. It doesn’t matter how many words are written; it matters what is written.
Organisations that are involved in projects need to be updated on the following:
?Summary of Progress?Milestones?Key Issues?Risks?Dependencies?Budget
This may seem simple, but project management is an art and not a science. Sometimes it is a good idea to be honest with the truth. This allows for time for the issues and doesn’t raise alarm bells with sponsors.
This is often done by project managers who simply want to live a comfortable life. These people make it a way of living to be economical with the truth. Soon, the project becomes impossible to achieve. But no one realizes this until it is too late. It is easier for everyone to understand project reports that contain only good news, which will stop senior management from asking awkward questions.
Although you might think this is a crazy scenario, it happens far more often than you might realize. Take the UK’s $468 million C Norris IT System. According to a recent report from the National Audit Office, bad news about the project did not make it up the reporting ladder. In fact, in the early stages of the project, it was consistently rated green despite little progress being made. Three years passed before the project was finally reported as in Red. It was too late and a lot of taxpayer money had been lost.
It doesn’t have to be this way. It is easy to ruin a promising career in the field by hiding bad news from senior managers. It doesn’t have to be this way, as long as you keep consistent project communication.

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