project reports

7 Steps to Writing Effective Project Reports

September 2, 2016 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.

 

Read: A Guide to Project Reports with SharePoint 

 

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. Below is a seven-step process to help you write an effective project report.

 

7 Steps to Writing Effective Project Reports

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 to 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.  Adapting 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.

project-reporting

Project status report in a SharePoint project site 

 

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 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.

 

Grace Windsor

Grace is a content creator within the marketing team at BrightWork. She loves creating actionable content in different formats to help others achieve more project success. Grace spent far too long at university studying English literature, which instilled a life-long love of learning and upskilling.

In her free time, she enjoys a challenging session at the gym, tucking into a good book, and walking the beautiful Galway coastline with her dog.
Grace Windsor

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