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3 preconditions of project progress reporting

Research has shown that almost half of all projects exceeds the end date and the budget. Reports on the progress of projects are often inaccurate. The causes of this inaccuracy can often be traced to lack of project administration of planning, spending and progress.

As a result, it generates the risk that the project manager:

  • makes the wrong decisions
  • reports incorrect assumptions
  • can no longer make adjustments in time

The 3 basic conditions

The basic conditions of a good project progress report are:

  1.  Definition of work packages
  2.  Proper definition of progress
  3.  Discipline


1. Definition of work packages

Work packages are the components of the project for which specific job-related planning can be scheduled in time and money. The activities and results can be described clearly, so the progress can be accurately determined.

Defining these work packages are often not on the agenda and/or the project administration is not at this level. One continues planning on too high a level or waits too long before planning on the details.

Definition of work packages

It is now also impossible to plan all stages in work packages at the start of the project. However, it is crucial that this takes place per phase well before the start of that phase.


2. Proper definition of progress

Many determine progress of all kinds of work packages using the “percentage complete”. Often, this is applied to the effort made instead of the result. This leads to inaccurate reports.

Let me use an example to explain the problem. The progress of two work packages is determined:

  • draw up a report
  • repairing six computers

Proper definition of progress

When measuring the progress, it appears that the report is half-way and that three computers are repaired. Is the progress for both now 50%?

This certainly applies for the computers, but as for the report, this is questionable. With the progress, it concerns the realized “value” and not to the work effort (resources). Half a report is worthless.

This example shows that work packages may differ by nature and that this should therefore be taken into account when determining the progress.


3. Discipline

The discipline to continually analyze the own performance and to adjust based on this, is usually missing in projects. Due to the pressure, everybody just “run” as hard as possible to reach the final destination.

Just like in the cockpit of an aircraft, the project manager and the team should constantly make adjustments to the direction based on all kinds of measuring instruments as the environment changes continuously.

Based on these measurements, the project manager and the team should establish deviations in the performance, analyze causes and take steps to adjust accordingly. Otherwise, the project can never reach the final destination (time and money).

Conducting an accurate project administration requires other skills and therefore other people. People who are capable of managing a defined and controlled process from startup, planning, execution, control and completion.

Questions or comments regarding this blog? Contact Timewax.

A photo of Mark de Jong

Mark de Jong

Mark is Sales & Marketing Manager at Timewax. He has a background as a project and resource manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers Management Consultants with expertise in the field of Professional Service Automation (PSA)