Project Management 7. Manage an Ongoing Project

As you develop a course or communication product that was planned, your sponsor and the team of people working with you will be interested in the progress of the project.

To inform them, regularly publish a progress report. The progress report offers many benefits, including these:

  • Anticipates the sponsor’s need for information about an in-progress project
  • Makes the team aware of changes to the original plans and situations that could cause problems before those situations become problems
  • Maintains the common vision for the project that you painstakingly created when you developed plans of the information design.

Most likely, you will publish the report weekly or bi-weekly. Let your project team determine the exact frequency. In one of the first meetings, ask team members how frequently they would like to receive a progress report.

Who Should Receive the Project Status Report

The progress report has primary and secondary audiences.

  • Primary audience is the sponsor and all of the people working directly on the project, including other instructional designers and technical communicators, subject matter experts, marketing planners, production assistants, and the information development manager. These people will closely read the report and check for information that directly affects them, such as an issue that you assign to one of the recipients to solve.
  • The secondary audience is all of the other people with an interest in the project, but no hands-on responsibility, including the managers of subject matter experts, marketing staff other than marketing planners, and executives who are responsible for ensuring that the course or communication product is available. These people will skim the report to make sure that the project is progressing smoothly and note any issues that might affect their work.

How Long Should the Project Status Report Be

One page–if you want people to read the report.

Make sure that you use charts and headings so recipients can easily scan the report to find just the information they need.

What Information Should You Include in a Status Report

Table 9 lists the information to include in a Project Status Report.

Table 9: Information to Include in a Project Status Report

Section Information to Share
Milestones If a milestone was scheduled during the time period covered by the report, mention whether or not you made it.

  • If you made it, mention whether you made it on or ahead of schedule.
  • If you did not make the milestone, mention why you did not and when you expect to make it.

Then, state the next scheduled milestone and your assessment of whether or not you can make it.

In addition to this information, some sponsors would like to see a complete schedule with a status report. If your sponsor requests this information, provide the complete schedule as an attachment and make reference to it in the report.

Budget Indicate whether you are meeting, exceeding or underspending the budget. Specifically indicate:

  • The percentage of the total budget that has actually been spent
  • Whether you that is the percentage you anticipated spending by this point in the project.

In addition to this information, some sponsors would like to see a complete budget with a status report. If your sponsor requests this information, provide the complete budget as an attachment and make reference to it in the report.

Changes to the Design or Information Plan (If any) Indicate changes to the way content is being presented or the content covered in the course or communication product from what’s indicated in the original course design or information plan.Specifically, prepare a chart that:

  • Identifies the page in the information plan affected by the change was made
  • Restates the original plans
  • States the changes
  • Explains you made the change
Quality Mention how well you are meeting the following guidelines¾ editorial, production, and usability¾ and how you reached this assessment.For example, mention facts like someone edited the communication product since the last period and what types of errors the editor found, and that the, in a usability test completed during the period, users were able to perform most of the tasks within the intended time periods and indicated that they were satisfied with the communication product.
Technical Issues: Provide a chart indicating outstanding issues and questions. For each issue, indicate the following (each is a separate column in the chart):

  • Statement of the issue in 30 words or less
  • Priority
    • A: Showstopper, meaning that you cannot continue work until the problem is resolved
    • B: Important, meaning that you can continue working on the communication product but cannot publish it until someone resolves the issue
    • C: Nice to have, meaning that, if you do not make the change in this edition of communication product, users will still be able to use the information, although possibly not as effectively as previously)
  • Name of the person responsible for resolving the problem
  • Date when the person responsible must resolve the problem (if you don’t state the date when the problem should be resolved, the problem will never be resolved)
  • Current status of this item:
    • C: completed
    • I: in-progress
    • D: action delayed
Project Issues Issues with the project itself, such as a team member going on vacation or the need for a special production method.Handle project issues in the same manner as you handle technical issues; prepare a chart with the same headings as for technical problems.

Example of a Status Report

Figure 3 shows an example of a status report for a project.

Figure 3: Sample of a Status Report for a Project

Project Status Report 

TO Gena Belcher, Tom Dunn, David Greer, Donna Sakson,and Jack Schiffman
FROM Rodger Marks, Information Developer
DATE July 30
SUBJECT Weekly Status Report for the RecordKeeper Plus User’s Guide Project

Milestones: Distributed Draft One for review July 28, as scheduled. Next milestone: review comments returned to me, August 15. Complete schedule attached.

Budget: Spent $8,789. 15 percent of total. Well within projections.


Changes to the Information Plan: None.


  • Awaiting editorial comments, scheduled for this review.
  • Usability: Will test as part of the review of Draft Two.

Technical Issues

Issue Priority Person Responsible Date Action Required Current Status
Confirm changes to the button bar. B Belcher August 15 I

Project Issues

Issue Priority Person Responsible Date Action Required Current Status
Printer requires 3 weeks, we only scheduled 2 for printing B Marks August 15 I
Need a tape drive for backing up the PC used to develop the communication product B Dunn July 24 C


© Copyright 1996, 1999, 2001, 2010, 2012. Saul Carliner. All rights reserved.  If sharing or excerpting, should be properly cited.


About idmodelsandprocesses

Exploring, reporting, teaching, and advising on learning and communication for the workplace and consumers.
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