Illustration of a gauge

4 tips for making a good project progress report

What do you do with questions such as: “How is our project actually doing”? “Are we still on schedule or are we far from our target”? You probably have an answer, but can you also substantiate your answer properly? You need a progress report for that, so in this article we give you 4 tips with which you can immediately establish good progress reporting.


Tip 1: Develop a discipline

To measure progress, it is important that you are disciplined with this. That means you have to make a new one every week. Because, if there is more time between each progress report, then all data is for most of the time outdated.

For example if you make a monthly progress report. Then halfway through the month the progress percentage can be 50% while this indication is already 2 weeks old. In this way, that percentage can frighten the manager, while in those 2 weeks the progress can already have progressed with an additional 20%. Without up-to-date information, your report is useless for managing the project.


Tip 2: Make the reporting date explicit

For a good progress report, you must explicitly indicate when the report was made. So: progress per X date. This way you make the actuality of the progress visual and concrete.

You can hammer on the discipline of tip 1, but it is not fool-proof. Because, if you have been ill or on holiday, had to deal with issues elsewhere, or have not been able to make the report for any other reason, then discipline falls into the water. However, if you can always see when the progress report was made, it can still be acted upon. If it is clear that the report is already 2 weeks old, then your manager knows that he/she can take it with a grain of salt and that it is important to retrieve the current progress from the project employees involved.


Tip 3: Tell the story behind the report

Progress percentages are useful but they provide no context. Sometimes a week goes by without the percentage increasing, for example due to a setback, because the project scope is expanded, or because a budget has to be approved. Of course, all 3 reasons must be managed completely differently.

Other times, 20% progress is suddenly made in 4 hours. That’s great, but it’s still important to know how that rapid progress came about before you expect this to be the new standard. It is therefore important that you provide qualitative explanations for the interpretation of the project and its progress.


Tip 4: Estimate the hours to complete

In addition to the progress percentage, it is important to indicate how many hours are still needed to complete the project. That way you can look ahead, because that 20% progress in 4 hours from the example above does not mean that the next 20% will also take only 4 hours.

Results achieved in the past are no guarantee for the future.

So, indicate that employees can indicate how many hours they still need or that you have the project manager do this for you. For small projects, the project manager can probably still estimate it himself. This is no longer possible with large projects with many people, because then the project manager will be much further away from the day-to-day work.

As soon as you know the estimated hours to complete, immediately adjust the scheduled hours in the planning accordingly. If you need extra hours, it is useful to schedule them as soon as possible. Did you schedule too many hours? Then remove them from the schedule so that your employees can be deployed to other projects.


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