For some people, reports and presentations are the dull end of project management. For me, they are a valuable part of communications.
A well-written report conveys the essence of the project.
In the concept phase, the Business Case covers everything from goals to benefits realisation.
Obviously, it also gives all the financial details too. When writing business cases, I find questions, inconsistencies and assumptions. Left to fester these issues with the concept definition will come back and bite me. So I close them out. Just by writing I improve the quality of my projects. For more senior stakeholders, we summarise the Business Case in a project charter.
And the benefits keep on coming.
- Stakeholders, especially the sponsor, can confirm the direction set.
- The project team can see their concerns addressed and ideas celebrated.
- Posterity – including the next phase of the project – has a clear record of what you did. And why and how you did it.
When we are defining our project we make lots of decisions.
For example, we investigate and select solutions. We identify and manage risks. And we work out who we need on our project and when. The Project Management Plan (PMP) captures all these decisions. It is a living report, which we update should we replan. The PMP tells our team and stakeholders how we will manage the project. Rather than become too large, the PMP may link to other documents such as the risk register or project schedule. Steering groups prefer to discuss the Project Management Plan during a presentation.
As we enter the implementation phase our focus changes from planning to doing.
And everyone wants to know how we are getting on. Progress reports are vital at this stage. So is openness. I like to use a single page report that shows status, issues, upcoming actions and help needed. Our risk and change management processes will also generate reports during this phase. We can summarise risk levels and the impact of change in an addendum to the single page status report.
At the end of the project, the team assesses its performance and makes recommendations for future projects.
The Lessons Learnt report acknowledges good practices and gives transparency where we could make improvements. The steering group agrees the Lessons Learnt report at the project closeout, during another presentation. They pass recommendations to the relevant process owners for action.