How to Write an Effective Project Report

How to Write an Effective Project Report in 7 Steps (+ examples in Microsoft 365)

December 1, 2022 by

Many project teams use the reporting tools in their collaborative project site to track work, identify risks and issues, and keep stakeholders informed about the project.

Depending on the project and organizational processes, additional project reports with in-depth analysis and recommendations may also be required when a project ends.

Writing a report is a useful opportunity to evaluate the project, document lessons learned, and add to your organization’s knowledge base for future projects. Try these steps for writing better project reports.

Manage Projects and Portfolios with Microsoft 365

See how you can start any project using templates for Microsoft 365, Power Platform, and Teams.

Manage Projects and Portfolios with Microsoft 365

See how you can start any project using templates for Microsoft 365, Power Platform, and Teams.

How to Write an Effective Project Report in 7 Steps

1. Decide the Objective

Take some time to think about the purpose of the report. Do you need to describe, explain, recommend, or persuade? Having a clear purpose from the outset ensures that you stay focused, which makes it easier to engage your reader.


2. Understand Your Audience

Writing a formal annual report for your stakeholders is very different from a financial review. Tailor your language, use of data, and supporting graphics to the audience.

It is also useful to consider the personal communication style of the reader, for example, how do they write emails or structure documents? Reflect their preferences where possible. You may need to develop a more formal or informal tone to your own natural style.

Adopting this technique will build rapport and make the reader more receptive to your ideas


3. Report Format and Type

Before you start, check the report format and type. Do you need to submit a written report or deliver a presentation? Do you need to craft a formal, informal, financial, annual, technical, fact-finding, or problem-solving report?

You should also confirm if any templates are available within the organization.

Checking these details can save time later on!


4. Gather the Facts and Data

 Including engaging facts and data will solidify your argument. Start with your collaborative project site and work out as needed. Remember to cite sources such as articles, case studies, and interviews.


5. Structure the Report

 A report typically has four elements:

  • Executive Summary. Your report will begin with the summary, which is written once the report is finished.  As the first item the reader encounters, this is the most important section of the document. They will likely use the summary to decide how much of the report they need to read so make it count!
  • Introduction: Provide a context for the report and outline the structure of the contents. Identify the scope of the report and any particular methodologies used
  • Body: It’s now time to put your writing skills to work! This is the longest section of the report and should present background details, analysis, discussions, and recommendations for consideration. Draw upon data and supporting graphics to support your position
  • Conclusion: Bring together the various elements of the report in a clear and concise manner. Identify the next steps and any actions that your reader needs to take.


6. Readability

 Spend some time making the report accessible and enjoyable to read. If working in Word, the Navigation pane is a great way to help your reader work through the document. Use formatting, visuals, and lists to break up long sections of text.


7. Edit

The first draft of the report is rarely perfect so you will need to edit and revise the content. If possible, set the document aside for a few days before reviewing or ask a colleague to review.

Automate and Streamline Project Reporting with Microsoft 365

Project reporting can often be a laborious and time-consuming task. Especially on a project where there are so many moving parts and different people involved, getting a clear picture of what’s going on can be quite difficult.

That is why we recommend moving to a cloud-based solution for project management and reporting – and you might have guessed it: we recommend Microsoft 365!

Why use Microsoft 365 for project reporting?

There are many benefits to using Microsoft 365 as the platform for your project management reporting, including:

  • Centralizing your project management and reporting on Microsoft 365 brings your project information into one place, so you can automate reporting and save time.
  • By leveraging the available reporting mechanisms in Power Apps, Power BI, and Excel you have access to configurable and filterable reports based on the audience. Everyone can see the information in the way they need.
  • Linked into Microsoft 365 ecosystem, reports can appear in Power Apps, Power BI, exported to Excel, emailed in Outlook, or seen in MS Teams, so reports are available wherever the audience is working.
  • Having project data maintained in a single platform means that project reports are always up to date. No more chasing up PMs or team members for the latest version of a document!


Ways you can use BrightWork 365 for Project and Portfolio Reporting

BrightWork 365 is a project and portfolio management solution for Microsoft 365 and the Power Platform. Here five ways you can leverage BrightWork 365 and Microsoft 365 for more efficient project reporting:

  1. Capture project status reports in a few minutes
  2. Track the project schedule with the Gantt
  3. Get high-level visibility into programs and portfolios
  4. Surface risks and issues across all projects
  5. Leverage visual and interactive reports


Capture Project Status Reports in a few minutes

BrightWork project sites have a “Status” tab, where the project manager can capture what is going on in the project right now. This is not a status report, but rather a place for the PM to log what the status looks like at this time. It is not a snapshot, as it will be changing regularly, but the info here will become part of the status report once the PM chooses to create one.

The Status Reports tab is where you can capture a snapshot of the project status at a point in time. It will bring in all the info from the “Status” tab, but you have the ability to add comments

This will also create a new entry in the status report log, and create a Word document version of the report as well. This status report can also be emailed to stakeholders as needed.

Track the project schedule with Gantt

At some point during project planning, you would have agreed the project plan and Target finish dates or deadlines for the tasks. The plan timeline is clearly laid out in the BrightWork 365 Gantt.

Nevertheless, as the project goes on, some dates and timelines may slip. And when those dates are updated it will affect the actual finish date of the project.

Project stakeholders can compare the Target (initial) dates of the plan to the initial plan by viewing the project plan against the original baseline.

Get High-Level Visibility into Programs and Portfolios

BrightWork 365 enables a hierarchy for your project management – with Portfolios being the highest level. For example a portfolio may house all the projects in a company. Portfolios consist of many Programs, are groups of projects put together based on some common criteria (maybe business function or geography). The Portfolio and Program areas show a snapshot of the status of the underlying projects, including KPI indicators, status, dates, type etc.

Surface Risks and Issues across all projects

One of the most important elements for senior executives and project stakeholders is being aware of the project risks, but especially understanding any issues that arise quickly.

I’ve heard it said before that “Senior executives don’t like bad news, but especially don’t like bad news late.” In BrightWork 365, team members or project managers have the ability to flag tasks or log issues on a project, and escalate them to the program or portfolio level for full visibility.

These reports are available directly from the navigation menu on the left hand side, so anyone can can view the current risks and issues without having to wait on a formal report, enabling quicker and better decisions.

Leverage Visual and Interactive Reports

The type and format of a report often depends on the audience. For example, senior executives often want the high-level details of a project. That’s where BrightWork 365 Power BI Dashboards come in.

BrightWork 365 pushes project data to visual and interactive Power BI dashboards. These reports give an overall summary of a program or portfolio, but can be filtered and sorted any number of ways as required. Again, the benefit here is that the dashboards are always real-time, and you never have to wait to understand.

The reports also enable drill-down as necessary, in case you see an issue that requires further investigation.


Spend less time on your project reports with BrightWork 365

One of the major benefits of a tool like BrightWork 365 (or any collaborative project management tool really) is that it consolidates and centralizes all project information in one system.

As team members and project manager update the project data in the solution, it is readily available to be reported on, in real-time, and in the format that is appropriate for the audience – right with the solution.

Reports in BrightWork 365 are available on a push/pull basis. Some users may like to log in and view the dashboards with all the filtering and configurability built in. Others may prefer to have a status report emailed to them on a regular basis.

BrightWork 365 removes the busy work of project reporting and surfaces the right information, at the right time, in a format that is right for the audience.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness


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Use BrightWork 365 to leverage Microsoft Templates, Power Automate, and Power BI for Project Pipeline Management
Shubhangi Pandey
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