Be Visible – Use Project Status Reports to Increase Your Job Security and Promotion Prospects

Problem: You do not get promoted and your job is at risk. You are not visible.

It is easy to get into a situation at work in which you do your job well, your projects are on time and under budget, and yet nobody seems to notice.

In fact, you can even get to the stage where you are on the short list of people to be fired if there is a downturn or a need to make redundancies (all too common without you realising it).

There are many reasons why you don’t get promoted or for your job to be at risk. One simple one I think you can easily remedy is that you, your work, and your projects are not being noticed when you are doing well. You are not visible to your managers.

You are not getting noticed because you do not keep your project director and your manager updated on your ongoing project status.

Failed (over budget or over schedule) projects do get noticed once they reach that stage or at their completion, but that is not the attention you want.

Solution: Do regular project status reports to protect your job and get promoted faster

You need to make your project director, your direct manager, and preferably their manager aware of your work, how good you are at it, and how well your projects are being managed.

Be visible to them. Give them regular and reliable reports.

There are many ways to make yourself visible in your company. I do not mean you should wear strange clothes or act embarrassingly. That may get you noticed, but I don’t think it will help you in your career.

Here is simple advice that many mentors will give you, but that many people either know and fail to do, simply overlook, or don’t have time to do.

It comes down to one simple thing:

Report your project progress. Regularly, properly, and succinctly.

Make sure you continually give your boss updates on your work/project and how it is going. You want them to see how much work you are producing, and that the project is going well. It is ideal to report these things to your boss before they ask for it.

This will help you become known as being proactive. It also helps dispel the thought that you are not doing much, and it also helps protect your job.

And when promotions are being given, you will be one of those considered.

Of course you should not bombard the project director or your manager with irrelevant details. You should however give them regular status updates on your projects, either weekly or monthly.

Ensure you keep up consistency with these reports. Do it on the first few days of the month for example. You don’t want the manager having to ask you for it, but rather to be thankful that you are one of the few employees who reports regularly.

From my experience, few people report on their projects reliably or even at all. So, by doing regular project status reports, you will stand out from the other project managers.

I prefer a short weekly email summary stating a few simple items, and then a more comprehensive monthly project status report.

A weekly email summary (issued early in the week) could include just some simple points

  • Project name and number
  • Achievements last week
  • Goals for this next week
  • To be aware of (anything you need the project director or your manager to be aware of – big current risks, current roadblocks, things you need from them (put that last item in bold))

Your project status reports should at least include the following information.

  • Project title
  • Project number
  • Project manager name (probably you)
  • Project director name
  • Client company name
  • Current budget
  • Original budget
  • Costs to date
  • Estimate at completion
  • Start date
  • Scheduled (contracted) end date
  • Current expected end date (this may sometimes be different to the contract end date)
  • Significant risks
  • Significant roadblocks
  • Commentary section to explain anything not covered by the above

You might also include:

  • Significant milestone dates (and their names)
  • Major accomplishments to date
  • Awarded cost or schedule variations (and amounts)
  • Pending cost or schedule variations (applied for but not yet awarded)
  • Possible variations (costs or schedule changes you may need to raise with the client but have not yet done so)

You could simplify a lot of the above by having a Green, Amber, Red light shown for key areas (budget, schedule, risks). This could be at the top to help the manager see the summary and move on. I.e. if the manager sees all green they know the project is ok, and there is nothing they need to worry about.

You should also have a similar project status report that you send to your client. This would of course present some of the information differently or have less of the above information. I think it should include at least:

  • Project title
  • Project number
  • Your company name
  • Project manager name (probably you)
  • Project director name
  • Client company name
  • Current approved budget
  • Scheduled (contracted) end date
  • Current expected end date (this may sometimes be different to the contract end date)
  • Awarded cost or schedule variations (and amounts)
  • Pending cost or schedule variations (applied for but not yet awarded)
  • Significant risks (only if the client needs to know these or can affect or be affected by them)
  • Significant roadblocks (only if the client needs to know these or can affect or be affected by them)

You might also include:

  • Significant milestone dates (and their names)
  • Major accomplishments to date

If your company uses a good project management system that allows project reporting, make sure you use it properly, especially to automatically bring in the cost and schedule data. If your company does not have a system that generates project status reports, then make your own (or use the company template report if it exists).

You should also encourage your project team to use the systems properly, so that your status reports are accurate.

Many project management systems won’t feature a reporting system that will show a report in the way you want, but most will have some reporting system, from which you can copy and paste (or extract some other way) the key information you need.

Projectmanager.com has a good explanation and examples at:

https://www.projectmanager.com/status-report

You should automate as much of the report you prepare as possible. The parts you should have to type manually should be your commentary or explanations for why the project is over budget or behind schedule, and your solutions on how to get it back on track.

You should also type any significant risks or issues that the managers should be aware of. These risks should already be in your project risk register system, so you should be able to bring those across to your report, either automatically or manually.

A few systems that I have used that do have reporting functions as part of their system are listed below. Note that

Lesson:

Good, regular project status reports are a very important way to ensure you and your projects are noticed (for the right reasons).

If you are one of the few people in your company who reliably makes project status reports for all your projects, you will get noticed and be more likely to keep your job and get promoted.

Make your project status reports useful, concise, and reliable.

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