Getting Status Updates on Your Projects

Receiving regular and reliable status updates from team members and sub-suppliers is critical for a Project Manager.  It allows you to strategically plan, identify any possible risks or delays early on, and to proactively make changes or mitigate potential problems before it becomes too late.

However, establishing a framework to deliver clear, concise and a consistent flow of information is easier said than done.  It is no easy feat, even for the most organized and experienced Project Manager.  Getting everyone on board, on task, and able to understand the importance of providing timely and effective progress reports is critical to the success of your project. Below are a few key tips to assist you to lead a more effective status reporting process:

1. Set Ground Rules

It is important to establish a firm foundation and example for your team to follow.  Set the ground rules for “Status Reporting” as early as possible on the project, and get clear commitment from team members (and their managers), and your sub-suppliers. Remember and remind everyone often, that without regular and reliable status reports from team members and sub-suppliers you as the Project Manager can not do your job properly.

2. Define Status Updates Regularly, and at Specific Project Milestones.

With a clear and established timeframe, your team will understand and learn to expect to receive and also provide the required information.  Once it becomes established, it will become more of a habit and routine and easily incorporated.  Like with anything, the more practice and the more it is done, the easier it gets and the more routine it becomes.  Providing updates at project milestones will help the project continue and proceed with direction and keeping the team on task and on focus.

3. Send Reminders & Get in Sync.

When the project starts, set up automatic reminders on your electronic calendar, and have your team members do the same.  This will help to ensure everyone sends you a monthly status update at specific times, and the deadlines aren’t forgotten or missed.

4. Use Templates.

To save time and streamline the process, use existing templates for the status updates and reports.  There are many available or you can customize your own.  Providing a standard, easy to use template will help your team provide you with the information you want and in the format you want.  The easier you can make a task, the greater the chance everyone will conform to your demands and it will minimize confusion or non-compliance issues.

5. Deal With Slackers Early On

It is best to deal with any issues or cooperation problems with team members not pulling their weight as soon as delays in status reporting arise.  Don’t wait too long.  It is important to address the issue directly with the individual. It is important that they understand the importance of the process and how their cooperation is vital to the success of the overall project.  If the issue continues to arise, you should take it to the next level and address the problem with their managers to avoid setting a trend for the future and to get to the root of the problem.  A lack of cooperation in status reporting can sometimes be a symptom of more complex issues within the corresponding department and continue to hamper the project if it is not properly handled and resolved.

Following these 5 key pointers will greatly assist you as Project Manager in establishing an effective communication framework for your team members to function within, and provide a free flow of information with you, to you, and with each other as a cohesive and collaborative effort.  Mastering this process will guarantee successful projects throughout your career.