Likely you are working on a project of some sort. Likely on a regular basis you or someone is required to report status in some manner. There are many ways to show status including templates we fill out, information radiators, and more. Now stop and reflect asking how honest you’re being about the status of your project.
Now I know some people out there might be thinking I’m not being fair using the word ‘honest’. Call it what you will. If you are spending time massaging and debating what your status report is saying you may not be 100% honest and factual. If you’re adjust the report to avoid the heat you’re going to take if you report red you many to be 100% honest. Status reports should only reflect reality.
I’ve seen the impact resulting from a lack of honesty too many times. Some of the things I’ve witnessed are:
- weeks spent untangling the web of bandaids and workarounds put in place to try and avoid bad news
- the program just carries on without ever really addressing the problems and in the end delivers a product of limited value to the customer
- A program that was cancelled as the eventual cost of correcting all the problems exceeded the value proposition
- I have also seen a program with a collection of minor issues. Nothing significant by itself but put them all together and they can amount to a lot of churn.
So what’s my point? Our job is to deliver value for our customers. Our customers don’t really want to work with us, they only want us to provide them with some level of automation so they can do their jobs easier. So just how valuable is it when we create a situation such as one I describe above? They loose precious budget dollars wasted because a situation was created they didn’t have any opportunity to influence.
So it’s time to stand up and start reporting realistically. Regardless of how you report on the status of your project consider the following questions when you’re writing your next status report:
- Are you providing the most accurate financial picture possible?
- Are you providing the scope/value the customer is expecting?
- Do you know how you’re going to successfully deliver on your project?
- Do you have any significant risks you’re not in control of? Do you even know what risks you should be focusing on?
There’s many other ways to look at status reports. Whether you’re doing the traditional status report template, or simply posting information on the walls. Make sure it’s accurate, transparent and visible. Oh, and leave the politics at the door.
Final note: This isn’t the first post I’ve written about status reporting. Check out Start all your projects red!