7 Ways to Make Executives Love Your Project Status

love your project status
Getting executives to love your project status

As project managers, we all have our weekly status meetings. For some, it can be a stressful time, especially if the project is behind. For others, it becomes as mundane as going for a cup of coffee. Whatever your situation is, it is important to make sure you’re presenting a strategic project status to your executives.

Know your audience

Are you presenting to one person or a group of people? How high level are the people you are reporting to? What decisions do they need to make? Make sure you know what information they need to know in order to make the meeting efficient and meaningful for them.

Make the information understandable to them

Do you report that the team completed the XYZ reports series? Does that mean anything to them or is it just a task you checked off in the project plan? This is not your status report. It is the executive’s status report. When the executive is done reading it, he or she should have a better idea of where the project is heading. Are you on track with your plan or has it fallen behind? If you are behind, how far and what are you doing to bring it back on track? If you just report completed tasks, they may not get the full picture.

Related post: The Importance of the Status Report

Know how to scale

The status report should provide a summary. The executive is usually not interested in the fact that Bob is late on his task because his wife had her baby earlier than expected and he is on paternity and had to fly his mother in from Spokane. Have additional details in your back pocket in case the executive asks, but assume she isn’t interested until then.

For more information see Stakeholder Management for Project Managers

Be prepared for questions the executive may ask

Put yourself in his position. Consider other projects for which he is responsible. Determine whether any aspects of your project could impact any of the other projects. Try to provide information that would allow the executive to make decisions for his entire portfolio of projects. It may even be a good idea to communicate regularly with other project managers within the executive’s portfolio. This can help your boss’s entire staff deliver more strategic project status reports.

Know when to stop talking

Some executives can be chatty and like to have small talk sprinkled throughout a meeting. Many are busy. They want the necessary information and that’s it. Try to pick up on the type of executive you are dealing with and follow their lead. If they like a little small talk, go along with it, but let them do most of the small talking. If they are all business, don’t be verbose. Give them the facts they need and let them get on with their day.

Be transparent

There is a tendency among many project managers to paint a rosy picture to the executive that everything is running smoothly. If things are going south on the project, you may think we will deal with those issues behind the scenes and she won’t ever have to know. The problem with that approach is when those issues become larger issues, you end up dropping big surprises on her. If the executive has more preparation and time to prepare for a project delay, both of you will be better off.

Have a plan

If and when things do go wrong, report the issue to the executive and have a plan of action ready to put in place. This gives the executive confidence that you can deal with issues and he doesn’t have to intervene.

Project managers can sometimes treat the status report as just another task on their to-do list. Reporting status is important to the executive to get an idea where the project is so she can make strategic decisions. Delivering a strategic project status gives the executive that information. It will also be a good reflection on you for the executives to which you report.

What have you done to make executives love your project status?

If you would like to learn more about a career in Project Management, get Lew’s book Project Management 101: 101 Tips for Success in Project Management on Amazon.

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