Sunday, March 3, 2013

Status Report Basics

Whether or not your boss asked you for a status report, writing one can be a good opportunity to communicate your accomplishments. Good status reports are a form of personal "public relations". They can help keep you on track and keep your boss informed. Bosses like to be kept informed. (Source:
  1. Date the report: example: summary for the week of December 1. If this report will be an email, you can use this as the subject line. If the report will be a standalone document, place a header with this information on top.
  2. Make sure your name and your group or project name is somewhere on the document or email so that your readers don't have to guess where it came from or what it's about.
  3. Report the current status of your budget, if it is your responsibility.
  4. Explain what has been accomplished during this reporting period (week, month, quarter, etc.). Use a heading such as "Accomplishments", "Completed Tasks", "Completed Action Items" or even simply "Done".
  5. Use active verbs to start the sentences: completed, defined, solved, designed, organized, improved, fixed, filed, to name a few examples.
  6. List your or your team's major accomplishments. For an individual, weekly report, three to six one-sentence bullet points may be enough.
  7. In the next section, list things that you plan to do in the next week or in the next reporting period. A good heading is "Planned tasks", "Next Steps", or "To do". Again, three to six lines should be enough.
  8. Estimate the amount of time a task will require, if you can do so confidently. For example, "Call Ernie Tuesday to negotiate the XYZ account." or "Document the bracket design change (estimate: 2 days)." Refer to any schedules you have been given.
  9. Discuss any problems or potential problems in the next section. "Open Issues" or "Issues and Comments" are good headers for this section. This is the section where you should clarify any need for guidance or help. If you are simply reporting the problem and don't require assistance at this point, say so. Comments such as "We expect to solve this issue within the next 2 days" let supervisors know that they do not need to get involved, but should monitor the situation. Later, if the situation is not resolved, your supervisor cannot complain that you did not inform him/her earlier. This is the place to put stuff that isn't strictly a task. Perhaps you're having trouble reaching a supplier because nobody is in the office this week.
  10. Proofread your writing and send it to those who want it.