The Project Group, LLC
The Project Group, LLC Newsletter
  Advancing Project Management January 2004  

in this issue

The Project Group, LLC

Reporting Project Status

Next Month In The Newsletter

The Project Group, LLC

We specialize in assisting corporate and government clients in learning to improve their productivity while planning and executing projects.

Our three-phase approach yields faster, more efficient project initiation, planning and execution results.

   Dear Robert,

Each month our newsletter delves into a specific step in the phases of Initiation, Planning and Execution of projects. Our methodology is applicable to any project in any industry. Our process approach to Project Management is designed to help your company's projects gain traction quickly, communicate clearly to all parties and keep them on track to reach a successful conclusion.

We facilitate workshops that jump-start your teams, making sure they know what they are going to do and validating they have the time and resources with which to do it.

This newsletter focuses on Process 11:

Reporting Project Status.

  • Reporting Project Status
  •    The boss says "I want to See your Project Status"

    When you go to the movies in the San Francisco Bay Area and your friends ask you how you liked it, a negative response could be "The little man wasn't jumping out of his chair." This is a reference to the icon the San Francisco Chronicle uses in their film reviews. When they like the movie they display and icon of an ecstatic little man jumping out of his chair:

    It is an image that goes straight to the right hand side of the brain (emotions) rather than intellect. For the other side of your brain you can read all the words and get the full "picture" on the picture.

    The same can be true of managers and sponsors in the hard-pressed corporate world. They want to read a project status report that tells them everything they need to know about the project in less than five seconds. Is the plot proceeding well? How about the characters? Will there be a happy ending?

    One way to do this is with a project dashboard that includes colored graphic elements: Green is a "go", Yellow is slow down, and Red is stop, trouble. You may not be able to read or understand all the words on this sample report but you sure can have a feeling for how it's going.

    We unearthed this status reporting method at a best practice company where, believe it or not, most PM's reported their status accurately with relatively little fear of blame or recrimination. It was safe to describe a project as being in red status because it was meant to flag down the sponsor for help.

    Another way we have heard status reported to a large project community is through broadcast voicemail. That's right, we literally heard it. Every two weeks the project manager carefully wrote and recorded a forty- five second message which was sent to a broadcast list of over two hundred stakeholders and end-users. The project had high visibility in the company and it was good public relations to keep everyone updated as to what was coming and when. The dividends paid off handsomely when there was a change or delay. The positive trust of two months of regular good news was counterbalanced when the negatives came. And by the way, the message was never more than 45 seconds. Much longer than that and listeners feel imposed upon and tune out.

    The team of another company made large banners with their resident color plotter and decorated the corridors near their cubicles trumpeting the successes of recent milestones. There could be no mistake entering their part of the building. This team was making progress and proud of it.

    One of the more bizarre instances of visual project status reporting involved a group who placed their project symbol on a button which they wore as a crude reminder of the critical nature of their endeavor.

    For those of you who don't recognize it, the graphic stands for "Our butts are on the line".

    If that wasn't bad enough, when the project was nearing completion, a few wags took out their Sharpie pens and turned the button around replacing it with a more positive message:

    We give kudos to a company that allows the employees to have their fun.

    We encourage going beyond words to report your project status. If you're in good taste, you'll probably get fewer words in return.

  • Next Month In The Newsletter
  •    In the February Newsletter we will talk about closing out a project.

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