A status report is a narrative description of the project's progress, usually provided to senior management and the customer representative on a regular basis, say, each month. The frequency of this report, or any other report, is a function of how complex or risky the project is. Most IT projects are complex and at risk, at least with regards to schedule and technology issues. Thus, it is likely that the project manager will be asked to provide informal reports frequently—even daily—with a formal, written report to follow weekly or, at a minimum, biweekly.
Exhibit 9-6 is an example of a typical status report format, which is designed to provide some very basic information to the reader. In other words, it answers questions like these:
What has been done during the reporting period?
What problems were encountered and how were they handled?
What is going to be done during the next reporting period?
Do you expect any problems during the period?
Exhibit 9-6: Sample status report format.
Most senior managers (especially the financial officer) are going to want financial information. Depending upon the organization's sophistication with earned value analysis, you might want to add an earned value report as an attachment. Otherwise, a simple time line showing the budget and the actual expenditures may be sufficient for this report.
Another important aspect of project control is that of managing changes in the project.