A Systematic Process for creating Heroic Weekly Status Updates
(The Second in our Series on Project Management Best Practices)
This article is all about heroes: remind your customer you are their personal hero by making them look like one.
Every government contract comes with a requirement to keep your customer informed about the project's status. Having this requirement is the prudent thing to do. But no quality contractor should have to be told to keep their customer in the loop.*
The trouble is, status updates are something easy to avoid. If there are problems in the project, if your program is going over budget or missing deadlines, when you give your customer a status update, you'll have to the own up to the truth. You won't be able to hide behind your credentials or past successes any more.
Allow us to therefore to revolutionize your understanding of Status Updates (as in, turn your feelings on them 180º).
Status Updates are an opportunity to Remind your customer that you are their hero by ultimately making them look like one. Want to make it super easy to give your customer regular, high quality status updates?
In order to take advantage of this unique opportunity, you need to be already doing a quality job of managing the project: particularly team communication, task assignment, and issues. If you aren't managing these three things well, then of course your Status Updates are not going to make you look like a hero; your customer will see you are not in control of their program.
Need to know how to systematically manage the daily communication of your project? Read our previous article here, about the first of our Project Management Best Practices.
Being perceived by your customer as not in control of your project is the kiss of death. Instead, when you provide a Status Report, your systematic, daily team communication will have already given you the following information:
- What your team has recently accomplished
- What issues the project is facing & how they are being resolved
- What your team will be completing in the near future
Equipped with this information, you can simply plug it into a presentation template and share it with your Government Contracting Officer or any other managers you are accountable to.
Your Status Update should include:
- Significant work accomplished that week
- Significant development milestones
- Iterations, Risks, and Issues (along with date for each and current status)
- Sub-slides with more details about specific Iterations, Risks, and Issues
- Team tasks completed & current assignments
- Team focus for the coming week
- Deliverables & Approvals Timeline
- and a Project Communication Schedule
Some of this information will not change week-to-week. Arguably, the part that will change the most (the first 6 sections of your update) will already be known by you because you're using the best practice: Communicate via a team Scrum, and a lot of this information will be given to you by your team, when they send you an email Scrum summary each week.
But how should you go about creating this Status Report? We've made it easy for you. As we've promised in this blog, we're giving you a step-by-step system to delight your Government customer, as well as helpful tools to put it into action.
We've created a Weekly Status Report Template, the very template we use for our own contracts. The presentation already has instructions on how to personalize the template for your program, and will save you hours of work each week keeping your customer in the loop.
Don't forget, every Status Report you provide your customer is an opportunity to Remind them of the reason you are the contractor, and of the value they have received in working with you.
*Here's some obvious food for thought: if you want to be rated as an exceptional contractor, you have to see your contract requirements as a starting point - as a minimum level of acceptability, and go up from there.