We Need to Talk About Status Reports

Status Reports – that was the subject for the last PMO Flashmob in Manchester. The evening was held at the Manchester Metropolitan University Business School so we thought, an educational establishment deserves an evening of learning. So we headed to the classroom for a session on project status reports (we really know how to let our hair down!)

PMO Challenges in Reporting

Before we got into a group session – working on a specific scenario around status reporting – it made sense to take some time to highlight some of the current challenges PMO face when it comes to reporting. Reporting is arguably the most important job a PMO does, and it’s certainly the service that requires a lot of attention and manpower.

Here’s eleven areas that cause current challenges:

Biggest challenge? Surely it has to be the workload issue? The sheer amount of time spent on reporting by PMOs on a weekly, monthly, quarterly basis. Not forgetting the dreaded year end! But as soon as our reports are out – the timing – means they’re already out of date, the project and the world has moved on.

Who we report to and what they want – our audience – is pretty wide ranging. The need for different types of reports in different styles and forms. More complexity needed for some audiences or just a few traffic lights on a Powerpoint slide. PMOs are screaming out for decent tools – yet they also need a solution that covers projects, programmes and portfolios.

And does the PMO have the right skillsets in-house to manage these ever increasing data sets? And do they just provide the numbers and stats or do they provide advise, guidance and recommendations based on the information the data provides?

PMO still has a large legacy of project police, project chasers and generally stopping project managers and their projects in their tracks once a month with requests for data. Even when the data is forthcoming – is it even truthful? Or do we have watermelon project reporting on our hands?



So after we cheered ourselves up with that little list we thought, why don’t we focus on the status report more? It seems to me that many PMOs will devise a project status report and that tends to be it. We don’t revisit the format of it, or even the purpose of it very often.

PMO Flashmob is exactly the right kind of vehicle to do these kinds of things, so we did.


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Here’s a couple of examples from the group sessions. The one directly below got the thumbs up for being much more visually appealing and the benefits map was intriguing.


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This one got the thumbs up for including a recommendation box – somewhere for the PMO to add their insights.

One area – the culture box – for the want of a better word, got mixed reviews. This was an area on the report that included something more social or interesting about the project and the team. A good quote or feedback from a customer, a pat on the back for a particular team member, a note about holiday cover. In fact anything that brings the people to the forefront.

Like I said, that got mixed reviews. What do you reckon?


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About Lindsay Scott

Lindsay is the founder of PMO Flashmob and a Director at PMO Learning - the sister company to PMO Flashmob and the best training company for PMO people in the world! She's also the creator of London's first dedicated PMO Conference; Director of Arras People and PMO enthusiast. Loves dogs and gin.

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