Days or weeks into a project, your supervisor asks for a progress report. Here, we'll give you tips on how to write a progress report, complete with templates The project plan might require you to have secured letters of intent (LOI) from at.
Days or weeks into a project, your supervisor asks for a progress report. Depending on your experience with writing such a document, you might respond with readiness, anxiety, or confusion. Worry not – we’re here to help.
Here, we’ll give you tips on how to write a progress report, complete with templates and checklists. We begin, of course, with the all-important question a newbie might have: “What is a progress report?”
A progress report is exactly what it sounds like – a document that explains in detail how you far you’ve gone towards the completion of a project.
It outlines the activities you’ve carried out, the tasks you’ve completed, and the milestones you’ve reached vis-à-vis your project plan.
A progress report is typically written for a supervisor, colleagues, or client. You might write it on your behalf or work with your teammates to produce a team progress report.
Depending on the scope and complexity of the project, you might need to give a progress report weekly or monthly, or for every 25% project milestone.
Throughout your career, you’re likely to be creating more reports than you can count (challenge for you: count them and find how much resources you’re using!). Perhaps you find yourself spending more time crunching data and plugging numbers into graphs than actually working.
Reports don’t have to be as time consuming as they often are, which is why we tapped into the brilliance of Kevan Lee of Buffer in this interactive content experience to help you with them. Dive right in here, and learn some reporting hacks from Kevan.
Sometimes it might feel like writing about your progress in detail is redundant, especially when you’ve been regularly communicating with your supervisor, teammates, and client throughout the course of the project.
But this kind of report is actually quite useful for several reasons.
Each person who receives a copy of the report will know what has been accomplished. This prevents confusion about what has been or has yet to be done.
This is especially important when different teams work together. Knowing what the other team is up to helps prevent working in silos and also reduces task redundancy. It also helps one team identify areas where it can offer help or team up with others.
When you submit your report, you’ve placed on record that you’ve accomplished a task or explained why your results were different than expected. Once the document has been accepted, it becomes part of the project’s official documentation.
So, just in case someone accuses you in the future of failing to accomplish a task or not reporting a problem, you can point to the progress report as proof that you did so.
On the flip side, if your project ever gets nominated for an award, you can be sure validators will come seeking documents that explain how the entire thing was accomplished.
Next time you plan for a project, your team can examine documents, including progress reports, of previous projects to find out what was done right, what went wrong, and what can be improved.
Previous reports can shed light on systemic issues, loopholes, and other causes of delay or failure – both internal and external – that must be avoided or resolved.
When the supervisor knows what tasks have been accomplished, he or she can focus on monitoring progress towards the next stages of the project.
When a report shows that delays have occurred, the supervisor is able to investigate the problems that hindered progress and take steps to prevent them from happening again in the future.
The supervisor will also be able to adjust the project timeline if absolutely needed, or instruct teams to double down.
Here is a progress report example:
Use this progress report template in Piktochart now!
Have you ever found yourself stuck tapping your pen or staring at a blinking cursor, unable to begin writing?
That’s not an unusual experience when writing progress reports, especially for those whose jobs typically don’t involve writing long documents.
One reason people may find it difficult to write these reports is the thought that they’re not writers. But that’s all in the mind. Reports don’t require sophisticated language – in fact, the simpler, the better. Here are some report writing tips:
Because that’s what it is in essence. Imagine your manager, colleagues, or client asking you questions and you giving them answers.
For example, let’s say that you’re organizing a weekend fair with food stalls and music, and you’re in charge of food concessions.
The project plan might require you to have secured letters of intent (LOI) from at least 10 businesses by the end of the first month.
Your progress report would then outline the companies or entrepreneurs who have sent LOIs, including a description of their businesses and plans for their food stalls. If talks are in progress with other business who haven’t yet sent LOIs, you can mention that, too, and explain when they’re expected to send in their letters.
On the other hand, if you haven’t met your target, you’d have to explain why, but also narrate the efforts you have exerted and the expected timeline for achieving the desired results.
This doesn’t mean you can’t use technical jargon. For example, if you’re in the construction business, you don’t have to avoid using terms like “tender” or “variation” or “risk management.”
But otherwise, speak plainly. Use clear and concise language. One misconception in business writing is that complexity impresses. In truth, it only causes confusion. Fact is, being able to speak plainly about your subject indicates that you understand your subject matter inside out.
Let’s get specific. One thing that makes business documents dreary is the transformation of verbs into nouns – just like I did there.
If we had to rephrase that to keep the verb, we’d write, “transforming verbs into nouns.” It sounds simpler and gets to the point.
Sometimes, you can’t avoid using the passive voice in really formal documents that prohibit the first-person point-of-view. But when done well, it really helps to make your report more relatable.
Going back to the food concession example, a passive sentence would read: “Research on potential food concessionaires was carried out.”
To make that sentence active, give it an actor (which is the team in this case), as in: “The team researched on potential food concessionaires.”
A study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience found that when you use concrete words, you tend to engage both the left and right parts of the brain, while the right region tends to remain unstimulated by abstract words.
While the jury is still out on exactly how word meanings are represented in the mind, we can agree that the phrase “a merry sound” doesn’t stir the imagination as much as “tinkling bells”.
“A hot day” doesn’t activate visual imagery as much as “a melting popsicle” does. When a reader’s mind is stimulated by words, it’s less likely to drift off.
Taking the previous example, “researched on potential food concessionaires” doesn’t evoke a visual image. “Built a list of 50 potential food concessionaires” is more concrete, especially when you add details of what food items might be sold.
This depends on who will be reading your report, and if you’re using very specialized jargon that only members of your team would be familiar with. For example, in a report written by a construction team addressed to the project manager – construction jargon could be used as the recipient obviously understands it.
Don’t assume that every single person reading the report will understand all the acronyms you use without you spelling them out. For instance, in construction work, SWMS should first be spelled out as Safe Work Method Statement. ‘Pre-starts’ should be spelled out as ‘pre-start checks’.
So in your report, it would look like this: Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS), then all subsequent references are free to just be SWMS.
Avoid providing an opinion, unless it’s part of the project.
For instance, your task might be to analyze data and offer your interpretation and prediction. In that case, you can offer your speculation and point of view, as long as you have evidence to back you up.
Avoid writing down a long series of numbers in a sentence. Try using tables or charts, especially when dealing with a series of numbers.
When using graphs or charts, try out several types to determine which ones best presents your data. You might use a bar graph, pie chart, line graph, or even scatter plot. When doing so, though, spend time in distinguishing different data sets from the others by using labels and colours.
Don’t worry if this sounds daunting – there are plenty of software that can help you visualize data, including the most basic examples, MS Excel and Numbers for Mac.
That’s all well and good. But you may still be wondering about the exact process of how to write a progress report. Armed with all of these practical tips, how do you put the report together?
First, it depends on the type of report, as well as the intended reader. A progress report may be written daily, weekly, or monthly. It may be written for an individual or a team.
As you’ll see in the examples below, the main parts of a progress report are:
This part provides an overview of the contents of the progress report. It’s best to write this after you’ve completed all the other parts of the report. That way, you’ll be able to provide an accurate summary.
Keep it short and simple. One or two paragraphs will do.
Numbers and details are your friends, especially when writing this section of the progress report. The accomplishments you write should correspond to your goals.
What were your goals for the period covered by the report? This could be a goal for the day, week, month, or quarter. On the other hand, it could be a team goal, too.
Be concrete when writing goals. For instance:
Explain what situations, if any, prevented you from achieving your goals, or may prevent you from reaching this month’s targets.
But don’t stop there. Be proactive and present an action plan and timeline for resolving the roadblocks. Include details, such as funds, materials, and human resources you may need to implement the solution.
To guide you better, here are progress report template examples that are visually attractive and highly readable.
A daily progress report includes your goals for the day, as well as your accomplishments the previous day. It also explains challenges encountered in performing tasks and achieving goals.
Another section under the daily progress report is ‘lessons learned’. These need to be directly related to the day’s tasks and challenges, as well as to the previous day’s accomplishments.
Try this daily progress report template in Piktochart now!
A weekly progress report provides a week by week breakdown of what has been accomplished and what tasks remain to be completed.
Just like a daily progress report, a weekly progress report may include challenges and lessons learned. Examples are included in the templates below. To get a better idea of this, let’s go back to the events example:
Try out this weekly progress report template now!
A monthly progress report is necessary for projects with longer durations. The report may provide both monthly and quarterly data on project progress.
A team progress report provides information on both team and individual milestones and progress status. Now this one is more complicated, simply because it involves several people who may have worked on different tasks.
It’s not enough to just let one person make the report. Of course, one person can do the typing, but everyone must provide input and feedback.
One way to keep a record of different team members’ input is to keep track of edits they have made.
To do this, simply enable tracking of changes on a Word document, or on Pages for Mac users. When working on a collaborative tool like Google Docs, click the pencil icon on the top-right part of the window, and choose “Edits become suggestions” on the drop-down menu. Here’s what that looks like:
On the other hand, team members can insert progress report comments or questions. Again, you can do this easily on a Word document, as well as on software that let you comment on shared documents, like Google Docs and Piktochart:
Here’s a sample of a team progress report template.
Check out this team progress report template now!
You’ve finally finished typing up your progress report – breathe a sigh of relief, but don’t hit ‘send’ just yet.
Go over it at least once (better to do it more than once, especially if it’s a team report). Re-read the article, edit the content as needed, then ask a teammate to proofread with a fresh pair of eyes.
Project overview. 1. Project summary. 2. Achievements. 2. Challenges. 2. Attraction of researchers. 3. Retention of researchers. 3. Highly qualified personnel. 4.
Falling efficiency, lack of focus, no drive. Sounds like spring fever, don't you think? But these are all the negative effects when you are not using a progress report.
These are the things that happen to companies from time to time. There comes a stage when productivity falls deep down below a critical level. As is the case with our bodies needing the right mix of nutrients to get better, we should give our organizations proper treatment if we want them to succeed.
It has been over 5 years since Weekdone started providing teams like yours with progress reporting software. With Weekdone being free for small teams and offering a two week free trial for everyone, we really try to make progress reporting easy for our clients (you're always welcome to try it here.)
Weekdone isn't so arrogant as to call our service a 'company doctor,' but there is a simple cure out there for those of you looking to save your productivity.
Progress report template. (sample template)
Progress reports are one of the best management tools you can use to kickstart your company's productivity. A great way to automate it is to use a special software tool like Weekdone. The information in these reports help employees track their progress while observing both company goals and their personal objectives.
However, not many are familiar with the benefits of progress reporting.
So, we're going to fix that.
Progress reports used by teams encourage engagement and transparency. According to the American Society for Training and Development, having a specific place to check in your progress increases the probability of meeting a goal by 95%.
For managers, progress reports offer concrete information about your employees' contributions. It encourages the exchange of ideas and opinions. Truthfully, it is a very simple form of two-way communication. With some guidelines and basic understanding of the format, everyone can file an excellent report on their own.
The foundation of every good progress report is a "PPP methodology", something the Weekdone software is built on. This stands for Progress, Plans and Problems. It may seem overly simplistic, but there is a deep framework hidden underneath.
As Cleve Gibbon aptly put it, PPP is "rich in stuff, low in fluff". His opinion is shared by the likes of Emi Gal (CEO of Brainient) and Colin Nederkoorn (CEO of Customer.io), both of whom use PPP to organize and streamline their respective enterprises. Even companies like Skype, Ebay, and Facebook picked up on the benefits of PPP.
First of all, there's Progress. Progress lists employee's accomplishments, finished items, and closed tasks. This category gives a good assessment of how much work has been done.
Plans are immediate or long-term goals and Objectives. All of the items listed under Plans are potential items of Progress. However, leave room for changes and accept that your Plans are not set in stone.
Third, there's Problems. Problems lay out challenges and pitfalls. Some people leave correcting mistakes for last, but it is highly recommended to do this throughout the project.
When you keep in mind these three things, you already have what it takes to write a simple report. When you first log into Weekdone after signing up, these three categories are the ones in the default weekly status update form. Furthermore, if you really want to succeed in communicating the details and nuances of progress reports, you have to take note of three questions: Who, How and What.
The key part of progress reports is your team. Michele Puccio, Sales Director of Arrow, says that they helped him "stay connected with the team". This is why your immediate focus should be on your colleagues and team dynamics.
Reports need to be concise and focused, so you should understand what your colleagues want. To help yourself with this task, ask a few questions:
Next, consider the tone of writing. Managers and executives may not understand the intricacies of employees' conversational style. Use longer, comprehensible sentences but also try to refrain from writing essays. Ideally, there should be 5-7 keywords per sentence.
You can look at a sample report for further guidelines and inspiration. Remember that the modern world is metrics-driven, so figures are more important than descriptions.
Instead of writing "we need to increase the output" try "we need to increase the output by X%". Concrete goals are more inspirational and, at the same time, more attainable.
The one mistake people tend to make when writing a progress report is avoiding writing about mistakes altogether. The purpose of progress reports is to objectively identify key difficulties and concerns and help them along the way. Even if the problem was already addressed, it needs to be put into writing to help avoid making the same kind of mistake in the future.
Secondly, keep in mind the relevance of your writing. Explain how every individual item connects and compares to Progress.
Even when progress seems small and changes are minimal, keep updating your reports. It enables transparency on all levels and can help assess challenges so you can plan your next actions accordingly.
Going back to our interview with Michele Puccio, he shares this example of how progress report influence your performance:
"In the beginning of the week, you decide to call 5 new customers. You write it down and have it under your nose. By the end of the week, you will call 5 new customers. You have made the commitment, communicated it to the rest of the team, and now need to honor this."
Progress report templates are made to save time for everyone, so it is illogical to spend most of your workday on writing them. This can be easily aided by reporting tools. Many teams use Google docs or emails to do this.
That being said, it is better to use tools that were specifically developed with progress reports in mind and allow you to automate the process of writing them. Availability and accessibility are key for an excellent progress report. Be sure to check out Weekdone to make your reporting process a breeze.
The key to progress reports is regularity. Progress reports need to be done at least on a monthly basis, though weekly is encouraged. With a notification system integrated in Weekdone, you ensure that everybody remembers to send their reports in time.
Sign up for your free Weekdone account here.
This one seems a bit obvious, but going ahead without explaining employee benefits risks employee buy-in later. You need to explain the 'whys' to everyone. Some easy benefits to sell include: employees having a voice within the organization, and raised productivity and focus on new plans. To find out more about selling the benefits to your team, we recommend drawing from this infographic.
Create a culture that allows discussions to be held from both sides and allow team members to provide feedback to their superiors as well as the other way around. Making a culture that encourages feedback as the default model improves overall company communication and makes progress reports more meaningful to employees and managers alike.
Use progress reports (and other goal setting software ideas like OKRs) to decrease the amount of time wasted at meetings by encouraging frequent updating through the web and mobile-based services (for an introduction to OKRs, this site provides a comprehensive overview). If your status meetings stay in one place, you'll save countless hours every month by writing instead of speaking.
It may sound a little promotional, but online tools can make the implementation process so much easier. Progress reporting can be done via e-mail, word document or spreadsheet, but the challenges are far greater and you risk not having all of your information in one, easily accessible place. Combing through Google docs and emails is a colossal waste of time, after all. One of the advantages online tools have is that they automatically remind your team to fill their form, compile the received information, and then present it to you in a way that's both appealing and fun.
Using a ready-made template does not mean that you have to adjust to its specifications. Actually, these tools are flexible enough to meet your standards and needs. What is more, they provide you with even better ideas that might have been missed otherwise.
Before inviting your whole team, make sure you have set up Objectives. The goals that need to be reached in a certain period and key results that help the team achieve these. Try this management technique used by LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. For more information about it, go to OKR introduction.
After you have set up all crucial information, it is time to invite your team. Send them an automatic e-mail to sign up.
Explaining this new tool to everyone on the team might be a challenge. Especially when you are not too familiar with it. No worries, that is exactly why product support people are here for. Remember, there is no such thing as a dumb question. There are only dumb answers. Don't be afraid to contact the support for additional materials, demo or whatever is on your mind.
progress against agreed milestones and the significance and implications of the research to date problems that could influence the conduct and outcomes of the project and that may require mutually agreed modification of the workplan and budget and opportunities for new projects, workshops, media releases, the protection of intellectual property, commercialisation etc.
The information provided allows the Corporation to consider both opportunities and problems arising from the research project and will be the primary benchmark used by research managers to check that the project is on track. Scheduled payments each year are dependent on the annual progress report being assessed as satisfactory by the research manager. Timing Reporting dates are as specified in Schedule 6 of the Research Agreement. Reports must reach the Corporation by the agreed reporting date and should be completed in Clarity whether the milestones have been achieved or not. The Corporation may withhold funding for a given project:
when a report is not received by the due date when satisfactory progress does not appear to have been made when significant changes to the workplan and budget need to be agreed.
To avoid delays in payment, early warning should be given when it appears likely that an agreed milestone cannot be achieved on time. Format The report should be entered in the online database management system Clarity. The structure below shows the headings in Clarity you will be asked to address. Project objectives Agreed objectives as stated in the Research Agreement Progress against agreed milestones Use the agreed performance indicators to indicate whether the milestone(s) have been achieved or not and, where appropriate, provide copies of material generated by the project. Comment on the significance or implications of the milestone(s) achieved to the targeted rural industry or community sector. Where the agreed milestones have not been achieved, provide reasons for this and propose a revised reporting date. Outcomes, issues and recommendations
Outline any outcomes, issues and recommendations, also include a proposed management strategy for any issues. Demonstration/promotion/extension activities/research reporting Researchers should identify issues such as commercialisation, advertising, communication/extension and opportunities for new projects, workshops etc arising from the research. Confirmation of industry funding, if not already notified Where the project budget shows a contribution from industry, the Corporation requires confirmation that the research organisation has received that contribution for the relevant financial year. To release research funds it is essential to complete this section in Clarity if your project budget has an amount in the "industry contribution" column. Variation requests not already identified to RIRDC Variations to the project, including timing, staffing and budgets, will need to be approved by the Corporation. A justification for the changes sought must be provided. Other comments Space for any other comments Length and content As annual progress payments are made following approval of progress reports, sufficient information should be provided to allow research managers to fairly assess progress against the agreed tasks. Reports should enable the Corporation to:
determine if milestones have been achieved respond to any problems that have arisen consider variations that are proposed develop ideas and opportunities arising from the project
As indicated above, they should address the significance and implications of the outcomes reported as well as providing information on the work completed. Clarity will restrict the content to 250 words per heading. Reports should be written in a user friendly manner with minimum use of scientific jargon and acronyms. New technical terms should be explained where necessary. Do not repeat information included in previous reports.
I need to call Al Andrews, make sure he got his letter, and work out any remaining details about his arrival. We need to find out when Mr. Brannan will be arriving and have someone meet him at the airport. We would like to send announcements to various business leaders, the news media, the chamber of commerce, and the other post-secondary schools in town by the middle of next week.
I have a few questions for you. 1. Will your office be responsible for sending out announcements, or do you want us to do that? We do have some papers from Genesis that could be sent with the announcements. These would help people know what Genesis is. I've enclosed one. 2. Will someone from your office meet Mr. Brannan or should one of us? You'll notice that my letter suggests that Mr. Andrews go directly to your office if he arrives at noon. 3. Will you or Tim make the opening comments and introductions? Please see the enclosed schedule.
4. How do we make arrangements to have coffee and rolls available in G.T. 103? I think this will be an interesting workshop and am confident that everything is working out nicely. I don't foresee any problems that would throw off our plans.
If the progress report is a memo, it should contain the following standard elements:
Date: Date the memo is sent To: Name and position of the reader From: Name and position of the writer Subject: A clear phrase that focuses the reader's attention on the subject of the memo
Because the reader is busy, get right to the point. Imagine you are meeting the reader in the hall, and you say, "I wanted to talk to you about this." Use the same strategy for the first line of the memo's body. Try saying out loud, "I wanted to tell you that" and then start writing what ever comes after that prompt. Often such a sentence will begin something like this: "Progress on setting up the new program in testing is going very well." If there is a request somewhere in the memo, make it explicity up front; otherwise, your reader may miss it.
Usually in the same paragraph as the purpose statement, the writer gives the reader some background information. If the occasion demands a written progress report instead of a quick oral report, it is probably the case that the reader needs to be reminded of the details. Tell the reader what the project is and clarify its purpose and time scale. If there have been earlier progress reports, you might make a brief reference to them.
The next section of a progress report explains what work has been done during the reporting period. Specify the dates of the reporting period and use active voice verbs to give the impression that you or you and your team have been busy. You might arrange this section chronologically (following the actual sequence of the tasks being completed), or you might divide this section into subparts of the larger project and report on each subpart in sequence. Whatever pattern you use, be consistent.
If the reader is likely to be interested in the glitches you have encountered along the way, mention the problems you have encountered and explain how you have solved them. If there are problems you have not yet been able to solve, explain your strategy for solving them and give tell the reader when you think you will have them solved.
Specify the dates of the next segment of time in the project and line out a schedule of the work you expect to get accomplished during the period. It is often a good idea to arrange this section by dates which stand for deadlines. To finish the progress report, you might add a sentence evaluating your progress thus far.
Progress reports are among the best management tools you can use to kickstart your productivity. Check out this guide with a sample template to get started.
A progress report usually summarizes work within each of the following:
|Building municipal Measuring community interest ball parks on city- Locating suitable property owned land Clearing the property Designing the bleachers, fences, etc. Writing a report Studying the assignment Selecting a topic Identifying the audience of the report Narrowing the topic Developing a rough outline Gathering information Writing one or more rough drafts Documenting the report Revising and editing the report draft Typing and proofreading the report Putting the report in its final package|
You can also organize your progress report according to the work done on the sections of the final report. In a report project on cocombusting municipal solid waste, you would need information on these topics:
|Topics to be covered in the final report 1. The total amount of MSW produced --locally --nationally 2. The energy potential of MSW, factors affecting its|
energy potential 3. Costs to modify city utilities in order to change to
For each of these topics, you'd explain the work you have done, the work you are currently doing, and the work you have planned.
A progress report is a combination of two of these organizational strategies. The following outline excerpts give you an idea of how they combine:
| Task 1 Work Completed Topic 1 Work completed Task 1 Work completed Current work Task 2 Current work Planned work Task 3 Planned work Task 2 Current Work Topic 2|
Work completed Task 1 Work completed Current work Task 2 Current work Planned work Task 3 Planned work Task 3 Current Work Topic 3 Work completed Task 1 Work completed Current work Task 2 Current work Planned work Task 3 Planned work
Figure 3-6 shows an example of the project-tasks approach with subheadings for time periods; Figure 3-7 shows the time-period approach with subheadings for report topics.
|Brine Drainage Tube Modifications During this period, we have continued to work on problems associated with the brine drainage tubes. Previous period. After minor adjustments during a month of operation, the drainage tubes and the counterwasher have performed better but still not completely satisfactorily. The screen sections of these tubes, as you know, are located at variable distances along the height of the washer. Current period. The screen portion of the brine drainage tubes have been moved to within 5 feet of the top of the pack. So far, no change in counterwasher performance has been observed. Production statistics at the end of this month (February) should give us a clearer idea of the effect of this modification. Next period. Depending on the continued performance of the screen in its current position in relation to the top of the pack, we may move the screen to within 3 feet of the top of the pack in the next period of testing. Although the wash ratio was greater with greater screen height, the washing efficiency seems to remain relatively constant as the production vs. compressor KW data for all screen locations so far has seemed to follow the same linear curve.|
Figure 3-6. Progress report organized by project tasks and time periods
|WORK COMPLETED As of this time, I have completed almost all of the research work and am putting the sections of the final report together. Here is a breakdown of the work that I have dione so far. Development of the Bottle In the development section of my report, I have written a technical descrip- tion of a typical PET soft-drink bottle. It is very complete and gives the reader a good idea of what the product should look like and able to accomplish. Favorable Properties The section of the report describing the properties of PET is finished. I have chosen four physical properties that many raw materials containers are tested for, and I have shown how PET withstands these tests. Manufacturing Processes For the section on manufacturing processes, I have done research to help me recommend one particular production method for PET bottles. Here, I have described this chosen method and have explained exactly how a plastic bottle is produced on an assembly line. Economics I have finished work on half the economics section of this report. So far, I have written an econimic comparison of the use of plastic and glass bottles. PRESENT WORK Right now I am mainly involved in determining just which areas of my report are lacking information. Also, I am continuing my work in locating financial information on PET bottles. Manufacturing Processes In the manufucaturing section, I am currently . . .|
Figure 3-7. Progress report organized by time periods and report topics
Sample Letter to Parents from Teacher about Student Progress Date Parents name Home Address Contact Information Sub: Progress Report of.