Progress reports are very important for managing a professional or university project. In addition, they will help you to more easily inform your superiors, your colleagues or your clients on the progress of the project you are carrying out. Your report should specify the work accomplished and the steps that remain to be taken to complete the project.
Part 1 of 3: start the process
Step 1. Determine the objective of your report
Someone may ask you to write a progress report for several reasons. Obviously and in most cases, this is about showing the progress you have made in completing a specific project. However, you will need to take a closer look at your goal.
- A report on the progress of a program or research project will be slightly different from a report on a professional project. In this case, you will have to give information without necessarily taking into account other elements such as costs, but this is not always the case.
- A report intended for a client will be different from a report written for a superior. In either case, you will need to consider your reasons for writing your report.
Step 2. Determine your readership
When you have set the goal of your report, you will need to choose the information your readers need in order to include it in your text. The layout of the progress reports will be virtually the same regardless of the topic presented. However, you will need to take into account the specifics of your project.
- What are your readers' relationships with the project? What is the impact of the project on them? For example, this impact will be different, whether it is your boss or a customer.
- Imagine the decision readers will need to make after reading your report. For example, it may be a question of logistics, financing or turnaround times.
- Determine the information your readers will need to participate in and effectively follow the project. What are the technical aspects that your readers should know? Are they used to the jargon used in the activity in question?
Step 3. Find the best way to communicate with your audience
A progress report is not just a written document that you send to your supervisor or to your professor. It can take various forms, depending on the case.
- A progress report could be an oral presentation made during a weekly or monthly business meeting.
- It can also take the form of an email sent regularly to colleagues.
- You can also decide to write a brief and send it to your supervisor.
- Usually, you will write an official report for a client or government agency.
Step 4. Check with your boss
Unless you have written this kind of report before and know all about it, try to get as much guidance as possible from your superiors. Your business may require a specific presentation, in which case you should stick to it.
Step 5. Choose the tone for the report
Not all progress reports are necessarily formal. In reality, internal reports intended for colleagues or direct superiors are often written in a relaxed tone. Therefore, you will need to check with your boss about what he expects from your report.
- If this is a report to a client or to a thesis review committee, it is recommended that you adopt a formal tone.
- However, a formal or informal tone does not matter, as the key is to be clear, precise and honest.
Part 2 of 3: Writing the report
Step 1. Choose the presentation of your document
Before you start writing, you will need to choose an appropriate presentation and set the content and tone of your report.
- You can use a bulleted list. This method allows you to present your information in a clear manner. The reader will be able to browse your text easily to obtain the necessary information. However, such a list may lack formality in the case of an interim report. Therefore, if the report is intended for your line managers, it is best to resort to a brief. But, if you are communicating with colleagues, go for an email.
- Also consider including graphs or tables. This is particularly useful if you are writing a progress report on a project for which you are trying to obtain funding or if you are looking to justify to the reader funding you have received.
Step 2. Organize your text into paragraphs
A good progress report should be as clear as possible. It is preferable to divide your text into paragraphs, in order to group together information on the same question.
To make your text clearer, consider adding subheadings, so your readers can get a feel for the content of each section. If they are particularly interested in a point, they can access it directly
Step 3. Write the title
Usually, the title is placed at the top of the first page, if you are presenting your document following pages. Again, this will depend on the presentation rules set by your company or university. Therefore, make the necessary checks in a timely manner.
The title should include the date, that is, the date of submission of the report, the name and position of the recipient, the name of the author, his position and the subject of the report
Step 4. Write the introduction
This section comes after the title. Often, it can be italicized to distinguish it from the rest of the text. It is used to provide an overview of the project and its progress. You will present the progress made and the goals achieved.
Be sure to include the subject of the report. Also present the project, remembering that it is an update on its progress
Step 5. Write the body of your text
This part can be divided into sections and subsections. In fact, this is essentially just a more detailed text of the introduction. Examine the contents of it and flesh it out.
- Indicate the tasks accomplished since the last report as well as those which are in progress.
- Analyze the problems encountered, the questions to be answered and the solutions that can be adopted.
- Discuss and justify the changes that occurred during the realization of the project.
- You can also include other elements such as staff movements, cost overruns you may have suffered, delays, difficulties obtaining documents or computer and security problems encountered.
Step 6. Go through the next stages of the project
This section is part of the body of the report. It will serve you to inform the reader about the remaining phases of the project. Remember to allude to issues that may affect the budget, management, or deadline for completion of the project.
- Above all, do not ignore a possible change in the deadline for completion of the project.
- Avoid watering down the problems. However, don't worry the reader needlessly or make promises you can't keep.
Step 7. Indicate the total number of hours worked
You will need to show how much time you and your team have devoted, if you have one, to completing the project. So your readers will know that you have worked hard, whether it is your line manager, your clients, or a government agency that might give you money.
Part 3 of 3: Avoid Common Mistakes
Step 1. Be careful not to deviate from your subject
Your writing will be correct as long as you adhere to the points described above. Try to stay on topic by dealing with marginal issues, even if they are interesting.
For example, if your project concerns the voluntary organization of an artistic event, you will probably be tempted to embark on an analysis of the deplorable state of funding for artistic activities, but this will not really help you to specify the course of the event. your project
Step 2. Keep it simple
An interim report aims to present the progress you have made, without drowning the reader in a flood of unnecessary words and ideas. All you need to do is focus on how the project will unfold, what steps still need to be taken and what changes need to be made.
Depending on the recipient of the report, you may be required to not exceed a certain number of words. A good rule of thumb is to present the necessary information as concisely as possible
Step 3. Avoid being too vague
Be sure to specify the current status of the project. For example, avoid saying something like “we are making progress to fund our artistic event”. Instead, present your information in a more explicit way: “thanks to the two grants of € 5,000 awarded by these different institutions, we only need the sum of € 2,000 to reach our objective which has been set at € 12,000. ".
Step 4. Remove expansive expressions
Remember you want to write a clear and concise report. Obviously, try not to clutter your text with expressions that add nothing to the report. For example, terms like "utter disaster" or "breathtaking success" are too emotional or too vague to be incorporated in a report intended for a client or manager.
Step 5. Cite your sources
Correctly identify the external sources of information, data and graphics embedded in your report. You can add a page in which you will indicate these sources.
- Try to be familiar with the style preferred by your supervisor. He may like to receive reports written in a particular way. Some people will want to browse information presented in the form of a bulleted list. For others, brevity is essential and you will need to keep your information to a minimum. Still others prefer a comprehensive report with as much information as possible, with no limit to the number of pages.
- Write your report accurately. However, avoid being verbose.