10 different types of reports for your digital project
What kind of report is the best fit for your digital project?
Not all may be applicable for your specific project, but choose the ones who eventually are. Ideally, some of these reports will have to be implemented before your digital project begins (this is why you should read the entire recipe before starting to cook!).
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1. Communication plan
This preliminary report includes everything you should know about communicating with your team and stakeholders. A communication plan often outlines:
- What kinds of communications will appear in the project—like management meetings, team meetings, management reporting, project records
- Who is involved in the communication—like stakeholders, consultants
- How often the communication will occur—like daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly
- What needs to be communicated—like reports, meeting minutes, details, summaries
- How the information will be distributed—like meetings, reports, email, Slack
2. Project timeline
A timeline states the proposed course of the digital project from start to finish. It can be done visually or more traditionally, but the one important common ingredient is to name the dates which will be of interest for your stakeholders, like expected milestones dates.
3. Project budget/financial report
As cost is one of three key elements constraining any given digital project (the other two being scope and schedule), it is vital to create a project budget report. This financial report should ideally show the budget versus the actual cost, which can aid you in the running of the project by warning if the numbers diverge too much.
4. Resource report
Another preliminary report meant to ease project organisation and management. A digital project team may be small and tight-knitted, but can also be large and span various departments, companies, and regions.
Creating and maintaining a list of team members, their roles, and contact information will help the team work more efficiently together. Adding what they will do and when will help make the resource report to be an invaluable tool for project management—in this way you can help allocate people to right tasks, remove duplicate tasks, schedule additional resources, and so on.
5. Status report
A status report will tell the recipient the current state of your digital project, as well as the projected course forward. What information to include depends on the nature of your project, but some common traits may be actions, commits, and numbers.
How often you should deliver a status report again depends on the project’s nature, but in all cases automation will help you deliver them more frequently and more accurately. Set up dashboards and other tools to quickly help you extract the required status information to be distributed.
6. Risk report
Every digital project, large and small, includes risk factors. A risk report should summarise the risk profile of the project, where the greatest risks should be addressed in detail—while the minor risks can be bundled together with an explanation on how you plan to solve these. Such a report could also include a risk register, where you methodically inventorise any occurrence that may impact your project. Then you should regularly revisit the report to assess the status of the risks and whether they can be removed, or whether new ones should be added as your project has progressed.
7. Project actions log
This report is meant for documentation purposes, where every action item is listed and tracked in an actions log. Actions give you an overview of the project and what is being done—or not. At the same time, documentation such as this makes it easier to review the process of the project, learn from mistakes, and highlight successes.
8. Project dashboard
As mentioned earlier, senior stakeholders may be too busy to properly digest your reports. An idea to solve this issue may be to craft a project dashboard with interactive graphs and reports, showcasing all the high-level, essential statuses in your digital project.
9. Board/executive report
In some cases, often involving the most senior stakeholders like board members and executives related to your digital project, you need to create especially tailored reports with relevant high-level information. These are people who need to know the overall progress, the budget status, if KPIs have been reached, and other aspects which they can help resolve.
10. Variance report
A variance report compares the planned outcome of your digital project to the actual outcome, in terms of cost, completion, goals, and so on. The variance report gives you a metric to measure whether you are on track, ahead of schedule, or running behind in a given field, allowing you to change course before it’s too late.