Reports encompass not only the structure and the selection of the presented information. The PMO has another important responsibility that is not always simple. They must ensure the quality of the reports, their currency, and correctness. When introducing the project and portfolio management solutions (PPM) the reporting topic is often considered too late. It would be ideal if the PMO put reports at the very beginning. In such a case, the PPM system would be planned around the reports and their users. Reports make you realize what is happening and what needs to be decided. They help you focus on the essentials and get the most out of your PPM system.
The PPM system should provide information derived from the data. This is what the reports are for. They make you realize what is currently happening. And what needs to be decided. Hence, you need to get yourself an appropriate reporting structure. This will provide a clear guideline for setting up your further PPM system and therefore the maximum benefit. To make it easier, get these five important PPM reports straight first:
- The portfolio dashboard
- The project pipelines
- The project status report
- The resource utilization across the team
- The resource situation and roadmap
* The contents of the reports listed are only suggestions. Of course, you should tailor these to your individual needs.
The Portfolio Dashboard
The portfolio dashboard serves top management and the steering board as an instrument for monitoring and controlling the project portfolio. With the aid of important KPIs, the status of the portfolio is presented in an easy-to-read way. Important elements of this dashboard should be:
- The overall status of the portfolio
- The share of projects by status
- Adherence to schedule and budget
- Resource utilization
The development becomes apparent by the comparison with earlier stages of the project and portfolio management processes.
The Project Pipeline
The report for the project pipeline shows all projects across their phases in the life cycle. This makes it easy to identify the progress of the projects. The need for action becomes apparent where there are:
- too low or too high a number of projects
- critical accumulations in certain phases
The Project Status Report
The project status report shows the status of the project concerned. Examples of important elements of the project status report:
- Header data (project name, number, manager, sponsor, type)
- Project status regarding time (project phase, an overview of the timeline)
- Project status (“project health,” status of traffic lights, indices for dates and costs)
- Comparison of baseline, planned, and actual values (timeline, work, costs)
- Comment for the description of the current project situation in a free text field
- Overview of important milestones as well as risks and change requests
The Resource Management Markers Across the Team
The project manager requires support from line management. To this end, project managers send requests to team leaders. Team leaders need to be able to make a reliable commitment to the project managers. So, they require a complete overview of the workload of their team members. This is the only way for them to see how much time is available for projects. This allows the team leaders to have a well-founded basis for committing their resources to the project.
The Resource Situation and Roadmap
When new projects are approved to be taken into a portfolio, the resource situation is often the limiting factor. A resource “overview,” showing the utilization depending on the project situation, can clarify if and when the overload is looming. And in which teams. This makes decision-making on when new projects can start at the earliest a no-brainer. Modern PPM tools specially developed for this purpose show you the current situation from running projects overlaid with the resource requests from new projects.
Reports for Different Stakeholders at the Company
As a rule, every company has several levels requiring different reports. The higher up in the hierarchy, the more condensed the information needs to be. Still, a drill-down to the details needs to be possible on demand. This makes it possible to comprehend the consolidated report information in the case of inquiries. Top management requires consolidated information for management control on a regular basis. For instance, they consider adherence to the strategic focus, risks, or investment risks. A PMO often prepares the reports on projects and resources at the portfolio level for top management. It requires a project list with the status to be able to check with project managers when this seems necessary. Any escalations identified are reported to the top for decision-making.
- Team leaders are responsible for their resources. For this, they require the corresponding overviews of their teams’ workload and availability.
- When planning individual projects, the project manager uses the status report, the work breakdown structure, the milestone overview, or possibly a Milestone Trend Analysis.
- Project team members want to see their work packages. What is more, they are interested in who else is working on the project and in time recording. This is less about classic reports, but more about the available information.
Status Reporting Procedure Checklist
All projects involved in your PPM efforts must update project status information regularly. We chose monthly reports as an example. You can surely adopt this scheme to your needs and capacities. This checklist will help you familiarize yourself with the most important issues concerning reports.
Required fields should be completed when registering a project:
- Proposed Start Date
- Proposed Finish Date
- Project Class
- Project Type
- Project State
- Project Phase
- Primary Project Driver
- Primary Project Outcome
- Primary Funding Source
- Brief Project Description
- Project Requestor
Fields required for status updating:
- Next Steps
- Overall Status
- Budget Status
- Scope Status
- Schedule Status
- Risk Status
- Issue Status
- Control Status
- Date Status Updated
*Updates are recorded for the project activities within the last month only.
How to report your project activities
- Use the verb, object/subject of important high-level activities
- Use past tense verbs because these are past accomplishments.
- Do not submit a “journal” of everything you and your team did (such as “conducted team meeting”, or “worked on the project”). There is a spacing constraint. If the data is too long, you risk not being able to read all your project activities listed in the status report. In general, try not to use pronouns or personal names.
The Accomplishments section
- Start with reporting period dates
- List each activity starting with a bullet.
- In the Accomplishments section, you will always show the past 30 days of project activities.
- Delete all other report periods
What Type of Reports Fits Your Business?
You will get the most out of your PPM if you have an eye on the reports you desire from the very beginning. These days, IT allows us to present reports quickly on the screen, both in color and in the desired level of detail. However, the question of which reports are useful always requires a very individual answer. The figure below provides an overview. It shows which reports make sense across the hierarchies. Naturally, this depends on your company:
Unfortunately, no ONE report is right for all. While reports tend to look similar, they must be adapted to the respective processes and needs of the company. This always depends on the intended use and the recipients. No matter the form you choose, reporting on itself is the central part of your portfolio management system. All data entries serve the purpose of drawing the information for informed decision-making leading to a bigger success.