Information is everything when it comes to running your own business, big or large. An organization is a firestorm of information and numbers that, depending on its size, goes through many hands before getting back to you at the top. Whether it be a handful of employees or entire departments, they are there to help a project run smoothly while project managers and the powers that be can focus on the big picture.
They are doing their part to make your endeavor as great as you know that it is, and you are trusting that they will do an outstanding job. Their day to day work fortifies the groundwork you’ve laid down.
In order for you to know that you are meeting the strides that you have set out to hit and beyond, you are going to need access to all of the data and work that has been done so that you can analyze it and navigate the future of your organization.
An easy way to obtain the information that you need is to request annual progress reports from your employees.
A progress report is essentially just a report that is submitted to a project manager, supervisor or employer documenting progress over a specific period of time. This could be anything from research, numbers, designs, statistics or any information pertaining to any progress that has been made.
There are several templates that can work, but it is important that they clearly and succinctly convey what percentage of the workload is complete, when the rest of it will be complete as well as the completion dates of prior work.
Because the purpose of a progress report is to provide as much information about the current state of a particular project as possible, it’s important to make sure that all of the required information is present so that you can properly evaluate the results of each facet of the operation.
Doing a quick review of a progress report can tell you whether a project is nearing completion, what needs to be done, documentation of any issues (if any) that have come up, and how things are looking to keep going.
If you look carefully enough at the progress reports of each employee or department, or you are making your own progress reports for your start up, you can gain a wealth of insight as to how things are going overall. The purpose of this information is so that can you use it to bolster the project.
Whether the results the report yields are positive or negative, getting on the same page as everyone else on your team is important in making sure the information gets put to good use. Progress reports help each team member get an understanding of the big picture.
These results let you know if there are any problems that need to be addressed, and whether you’re the team leader or the executive in charge, that information needs to be in the right hands.
The information gleaned from a progress report needs to get as many important eyes on it as possible. All department heads, supervisors, investors and shareholders should be aware of what is going on in the organization.
Together, everyone should put their nose to the grindstone and analyze exactly why the project is yielding the results that it is. If things are going great, then not only has all of the key people seen that things are going great, but you can also brainstorm as to how to position the project to keep up the success.
If the results of the progress reports show that things have fallen behind and are not going so favorably, it’s just as important that all the key players are in the room checking it out. Having several minds sort through what led up to the outcome is constructive.
Typically speaking, progress reports are done three times a year at three, six, and nine months.
Choose your progress report template and begin the process. Every project or business is nuanced and unique and strict adherence to this is not necessary as your own project will have its own distinguishing factors.
Seeing that everyone is on board with format, process and results of doing progress reports, the team can get back to work with a better idea of where the energy needs to be focused. Make sure that everyone is clear on what their specific responsibilities are and how they factor into the overall outcome of the entire project as a whole.
If there are two big things that you learned from doing and reviewing other progress reports, it’s that a project of any size change constantly, for better or worse, and that the numbers and work says it all. If the progress report in your hands doesn’t paint enough of a picture of what state your project is in, then it is likely missing significant information.
Remember that the results shown in a progress report only show a specific period, and due to the nature of businesses and organizations, fluctuating results is not always a bad thing. Don’t be too discouraged if the results aren’t exactly what you were hoping for.
Every project can experience down times, and it only makes the upswings that much sweeter. Be cautious and prepared to implement constructive changes but don’t fret over going back to the drawing board unless you are in true dire straits.
Compare current progress reports to the last period, and the one before that and so on until you and those that need to see it have a clear picture of the overall trajectory.
Use the report to trim the fat off of the project by identifying dead end roads, if there are any, and eliminating them so that team effort can be put forth somewhere else. If a lot of time and effort is going into something that is not producing good results, shift gears.
A progress report is an invaluable tool that is easy for a good team to get its head around and make way for a productive future. It’s a simple and quick request that can pay off in the long haul when the observations made from the production reports lead to further success in the future.