How to write an effective project status report in 8 steps

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Jenny Thai 27. September 2021 – 11 minutes reading time


Effective project status reports are the best way to keep stakeholders informed and up to date during project execution. These updates give everyone involved an overview and proactively let your team know if a project is on schedule, off schedule, or at risk of being compromised. How to make corrections, if necessary, to meet your deadlines. We’ll show you how to create a project status report in a few simple steps and have a template for you to start using right away.

The week is coming to an end and you already have to sift through various spreadsheets, emails, and tools to write an update on how your project is going.

Status reports are essential for keeping your team on the same page, proactively identifying risks, and staying on schedule and on budget. But manually compiling this information from disparate sources is one of the biggest contributors to work arounds, i.e. unnecessary effort that delays meaningful, important tasks.

Instead of manually gathering the information, you can use a project status report template to streamline this process. Spend less time on unnecessary data collection and more time on tasks that really matter.

Whether you’re preparing for your first project status report or looking for a better system than the one you’re currently using, this article explains what a progress report is, how to create one, and how using project status reports will help you consistently meet your deadlines. Here’s how:

What is a project status report?

Project status reports are regular updates on the progress of your projects. Written concisely, project reports provide general information about project progress so team members can see at a glance what is going on within the project. With status reports, you can make sure your entire team and cross-functional stakeholders understand what’s on track, what’s blocked, and what’s happening next.

Regular project status reports are important because they help you keep all project stakeholders informed and up to date on your project’s progress. As a result, all questions are answered before team members can even ask them. They show your team that everything is going according to plan and give you (and everyone else) a sense of confidence.

How often you share project status reports depends on the length of time your project has been running. For some projects, weekly reports are useful, but for others, monthly updates will suffice. Schedule project reports as frequently as is helpful to your stakeholders. These should not be reactive reports about what is going badly, rather effective reports should keep your team up to date on the progress of the project, whether it is on track, at risk or just not on track.

The benefits of effective project reports

You shouldn’t create reports just for the sake of creating reports. Effective reporting brings several benefits. By writing accurate project status reports, you can:

Keep track of project status

The worst thing for a project is when it’s nearing the end and you realize you haven’t been working to plan all along. Nobody likes surprises like this, and as a project manager it is your job to make sure that your team is constantly aware of the status of your project.

With progress reports, you can ensure this without too much manual work because these reports are a mix of overview-type summaries and important metrics – everyone knows the status of the project. And if the project is not going according to plan? Then you can fix it quickly and proactively to meet the deadline and stay on budget.

Summarize project progress

Project status reports are not real-time reports, but summaries of what happened during the past week, the past two weeks, or the past month. This allows your stakeholders to stay informed about whether the project plan is being met.

If you need tips for real-time reporting on projects, check out our article on tools for creating enterprise-wide reports.

Reduce manual tasks

As a project manager, you already have enough to do, you don’t need to spend hours every week or month compiling data from multiple sources. Project reporting tools make it easy to find all this information in one place and create project status reports with one click.

Determine next steps and action items

Project status reports should go to your project team, project sponsors, key stakeholders and cross-functional team members. Because these are reports that provide an overview, they are great for anyone who wants to stay informed about project progress.

This is the optimal way to let everyone know what’s going on without explaining everything in detail. If there are important next steps or action items coming up, let everyone know so they can prepare for them.

Identify obstacles proactively

If your project isn’t going according to plan, your status report will let everyone know about the delay and what needs to be done to address potential obstacles. This way, you proactively steer the project’s progress back on track. Similar to a project risk management process, proactive project status reporting helps you identify and eliminate issues before they impact your project schedule.

Say goodbye to status meetings

The era of status meetings is over. We now know that this is not an effective use of our time. Unlike in-person meetings, project status reports are provided in a centralized tool so team members can access them asynchronously, when they want to. You can refer back to the information or dig deeper into the project if necessary. Save your in-person meetings for valuable meetings like brainstorming sessions or company meetings.

Before reporting: combine reporting with effective project management

The big advantage of project status reports is that they reduce your manual work, centralize information, and make it easy to keep everyone in the loop. If your information is spread across multiple tools, you can’t use project report templates effectively – you still have to manually open Excel spreadsheets and write a team email to gather your needed information.

Make project management software the central source of information instead. This provides you with the following benefits:

Have a centralized source of information so team members can see who is doing what and when.

Easily visualize project information in a Gantt chart, Kanban board, calendar, or spreadsheet-like list view.

You can create status reports with one click.

It gives team members who read the status report and want more details a place to find the information they need.

You have access to additional project information, such as your project plan, communication plan, project goals, milestones, deliverables and more.

Of course, we think Asana is a great solution for this. This is a work management tool that can be used by your entire team. Your stakeholders from different departments need a way to view previous status reports, key stakeholders need an overall view of the program or project portfolio management process, and your team members need a place to track their individual tasks as the project progresses.

Write a good project status report in 8 steps

So how do you go about creating project status reports? Be sure to establish a clear structure that you can consistently use for future status reports. In addition, align the report with your project briefing to keep it thematically relevant.

Follow this guide to learn what should be included in your project status report. At the same time, we illustrate each step with an example of an employee satisfaction project.

1. Create your project where your work is recorded

Before you create your report, make sure you’re already recording your information in a project management tool. This way, you don’t have to manually search multiple sources, but can instead reduce manual effort and create a report in just a few clicks.

A project management tool helps you identify dependencies and upcoming tasks, so you’re always aware of your project status.

2. Title your report

For clarity, it is recommended to use the project name. If you are reporting regularly on this project, you should also include a date and timestamp.

Sample title for a project report: February 2020 – Employee Satisfaction Initiative

3. Report on the project status

Project status may change from report to report, especially if obstacles or major project risks arise. Select a project management tool that allows you to communicate the status of your project and indicate whether it is on track or not. One way to do this is to use a color coding system (green = on schedule, yellow = at risk, red = off schedule).

Example of a project status update: The project is on schedule.

4. Briefly summarize the status report

Your summary of the project status report should be short – about 2-3 sentences. The goal is to give a quick overview of the key facts to readers who may not have time to read the entire report.

This is the first section of your report, so here’s the best place to put the following:

Sample Status Report Summary: The results of our survey are in and just being analyzed. At first glance, employee satisfaction is at 80%, which is an increase of 3% compared to the last survey. The motivation committee is working with the leadership team on new motivation strategies in our key areas, including career opportunities and transparency.

5. Provide an overview for each key area

Depending on the project, your key areas may differ from report to report, or they may remain constant. In an agile project that is constantly improving, you probably use dynamic key areas to cover what your team worked on during the last sprint. With event planning, on the other hand, there are certain key areas you’ll want to mention in each report, such as advertising, registrations and presenters.

For each key area of the status report, provide a few bullet points that provide an overview of progress, successes, and upcoming activities.

Example of an overview of key areas: Survey Results

70% of employees participated in the satisfaction survey.

Our overall satisfaction rating is 80%.

Only 57% of our employees say they are on a clear path to career advancement, down 5% from the last survey.

41% of employees say they would most like to see improvements regarding transparency.

6. Add links to other documents or tools

Although you shouldn’t list every detail, some will want to know more about how the project is going. Provide links to documents or resources to stakeholders who want more information. This includes specific project information, links to specific project milestones, or the overall impact of the project, such as business goals to which the project contributes.

Example: Include a link to the employee satisfaction survey, as well as the company’s OKR for increasing employee motivation during the fiscal year.

7. Point out obstacles

Every project faces obstacles. These can arise from project risks, unexpected budget increases, or delays that impact theproject schedule. By letting stakeholders know when issues arise, everyone can adjust and ensure everything continues to go according to plan.

Example of an obstacle: The leadership team wants to look at the results before the motivation committee meets again, but doesn’t have time to do so for another three weeks. This will delay our overall project schedule.

8. Name the next steps

This could be a list of next steps, praise you’d like to give someone, or some other point to highlight.

Example: Thank you, Sarah A., That you sent out several communications to all employees encouraging them to participate in the survey!

Template for creating a project status report

To put everything you learned in the previous section into action in a short amount of time, create your next project status report with this easy-to-complete template:

Report Title:

Title your report. This can also simply be the project name and date of the report.

Project status:

Is the project on schedule, off schedule, or at risk??


Include here a brief description of the most important aspects of your project status report. Remember that busy stakeholders may only look at this section, so report any highlights or obstacles that the whole team needs to know about

Key area 1: Overview

Certain details about progress, achievements and upcoming tasks.

Certain details about progress, achievements and upcoming tasks.

Specific details about progress, accomplishments, and upcoming tasks.

Key Area 2: Overview

Certain details about progress, accomplishments achieved, and upcoming tasks.

Specific details about progress, accomplishments, and upcoming tasks.

Certain details about progress, achievements and upcoming tasks.

Key Area 3: Overview

Specific details about progress, accomplishments, and upcoming tasks.

Specific details about progress, accomplishments, and upcoming tasks.

Specific details about progress, accomplishments, and upcoming tasks.

Additional Information and Links:

Link to relevant project details or project information that might interest stakeholders. Through this section, team members can learn more about specific details or understand how the project proposal relates to your Overarching strategic goals contributes.


Are there challenges you are facing? How will you resolve them?

Additional notes or specifics:

What additional items does your team need to know about? What are the next important steps?

Examples for project status reports

Although a step-by-step guide to creating a project status report is quite useful, real-world examples often allow us to really understand what such a report might look like. If you feel the same way, the following example will probably help you:

Report title: Publishing the e-book

Project Status: On schedule


Great progress this week! We are still in the concept phase, but Avery Lomax will select a topic this week. Editorial and design teams are ready to go as soon as we give the go-ahead.

The planning team has met to discuss a guiding topic.

We have three final ideas and will choose one on Friday.

A briefing for the editorial team is due next Thursday.

Editorial team is ready to start writing copy as soon as our idea is ready.

Right now they are gathering relevant company information that should be included.

The design team evaluated five examples of e-books to find the appropriate style.

Next Tuesday they will select a template.

Additional notes or specifics:

Jenny is on vacation the whole next week, so please direct all questions about the content to Jana.

Many thanks to Henry for compiling an extensive list of topics for us to choose from!


The deadline for the e-book is tight, as everyone knows. It is important for each of us to work in our project management tool to keep everyone organized and informed at all times. Thanks!

Streamline reporting with a work management tool

The sample report is clearly and simply worded. By creating this report in a work management tool like Asana, you can automatically create every section except the summary section. Here’s what the sample report looks like in Asana:

Best practices for project status reports

Now you know what to include in your project status report, but you may have some additional questions? These best practices will help you formulate a successful status report for your project.

How often are status reports useful?

How often you send project updates depends on the project you’re managing. If your project is over a short period of time or things are moving quickly, you should send weekly status reports. On the other hand, if it’s a longer project, you probably only need to send bi-weekly or monthly status reports. The most important thing is to keep project stakeholders in the loop.

If you use a reporting tool, you can create a task for yourself so that you always send the status reports on a certain day of the week. Use these recurring reminders to easily keep stakeholders informed, whether you send weekly or monthly reports and updates. Either way, this will make stakeholders expect your updates, which will lead to fewer follow-ups from them (plus you’ll appreciate always being informed).

By sending a report weekly, some project meetings become unnecessary. We all know that unnecessary meetings are not appreciated. Forgo the status meetings and rather invest your time in more important activities.

Who is in the recipient group?

It depends on the project and the stakeholders involved, but send an update to all key stakeholders working on the project. During the project planning process, you should have created a key project stakeholder analysis listing all key stakeholders, sponsors, and team members. Refer back to your project plan if you are unsure of anything.

Even if a weekly status report is not relevant to a particular team member, you should still send it to everyone, as it is important for everyone to have an overview. Team members who don’t need to read the report in detail can read your summary, while others who are more involved are briefed on all the details.

How much detail should the report go into?

A project status report should not contain too many details. Let the work speak for itself – you’re just making sure all the relevant information is listed and adding some color to your report. Think of it as a summary of the issues in your project that affect the most stakeholders.

You should always indicate whether the project is on schedule, at risk, or unscheduled, provide a brief summary of what has been completed and what is still to come, and then refer to other sources of information if someone needs additional details.

Where should you write your project status report?

If you want to draft and share status updates, you should do so with a work management tool. The best tool for this is one with a project overview that serves as a central source of information for all project-related work steps. So you can finally break free from spreadsheets and manage status updates, project briefings, key deliverables and project milestones in a single place. Your reports can be conveniently shared with stakeholders, who can access previous reports at any time. This will ultimately reduce the need for you to write emails.

Project conclusion: summary of your work

The status reports discussed above are always sent out as the project progresses to keep everyone in the loop. However, once the project is complete, it makes sense to write a summary report. Think of it as a kind of executive summary of your project – your chance to give stakeholders a summary overview. With such a report you officially close the project.

Again, this is an overview of the most important areas, but instead of updates and status messages, you write a summary of the entire project progress. Here are some questions you should answer in a project closure report:

What were the goals of this project and were they achieved?

Was the project completed on schedule and within the specified budget (if any)?

What successes should be highlighted?

What challenges have we encountered?

What can we learn from this project that will help us in future projects?

Status reports that virtually write themselves keep everyone involved in the loop at all times

Send out status updates if you want to accomplish more on your next project. Keeping you productive, efficient, accountable, while providing everyone else with a quick (and interesting) look at what’s going on.

Use our resources to create reports that provide enough information without going into too much detail. Use a project management solution such as Asana whose features are designed to send status reports. It will save you time and keep you as organized as possible.

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