How to Write a Status Report
Whether or not your boss asked you for a status report, writing one can be a good opportunity to communicate your accomplishments. Good status reports are a form of personal “public relations”. They can help keep you on track and keep your boss informed. Bosses like to be kept informed.
1 Date the report: summary for the week of December 1. If this report will be an email, you can use this as the subject line. If the report will be a standalone document, place a header with this information on top.
2 Make sure your name and your group or project name is somewhere on the document or email so that your readers don’t have to guess where it came from or what it’s about.
3Report the current status of your budget, if it is your responsibility
4Explain what has been accomplished during this reporting period (week, month, quarter, etc.). Use a heading such as “Accomplishments”, “Completed Tasks”, “Completed Action Items” or even simply “Done”.
5 Use active verbs to start the sentences: completed, defined, solved, designed, organized, improved, fixed, filed, to name a few examples.
6 List your or your team’s major accomplishments. For an individual, weekly report, three to six one-sentence bullet points may be enough.
7 In the next section, list things that you plan to do in the next week or in the next reporting period. A good heading is “Planned tasks”, “Next Steps”, or “To do”. Again, three to six lines should be enough.
8 Estimate the amount of time a task will require, if you can do so confidently. For example, “Call Ernie Tuesday to negotiate the XYZ account.” or “Document the bracket design change (estimate: 2 days).”
- Refer to any schedules you have been given.
- This is the place to put stuff that isn’t strictly a task. Perhaps you’re having trouble reaching a supplier because nobody is in the office this week. Perhaps you have a suggestion about how to improve something about the way the business is run. This section can be a short paragraph or two.
Here is what a status report might look like if it were written by editor. Adapt the style, format, and accomplishment lists to your own job, but notice that each bullet point begins with an active verb.
Status report for the week commencing 13 December, 2010
- Started three articles: Reuse an Empty Altoids Tin (my idea), Become a Handbag Designer(request), and Become an Adult Self Learner (request).
- Expanded and improved the articles Find Your Car in a Crowded Parking Lot and Plan a Bake Sale.
- Rewrote Help Someone Who Has Broken a Bone.
- Patrolled over 400 edits and reviewed new requests for spelling and duplications.
- Add images to Become a Handbag Designer.
- Revise and proofread Become an Adult Self Learner.
- Ask an editor with a medical or emergency response background to review Help Someone Who Has Broken a Bone. I researched this one carefully, but I don’t have a medical background, myself.
- Review Read Nutrition Facts on Food Labels. This article is off to a good start but it needs a clearer and more unified style and some mention of how to read an ingredients list.
- Thanks to our programmers for making this week’s software updates run smoothly. I’ll keep an eye out for any leftover problems.
- One of our volunteer’s cats died this weekend and she seemed pretty shaken by it. I advised her to take some time off if she needed to.
- Keep the report positive, if possible. This is not the place to complain, editorialize, or make excuses. One good way to do this is to suggest a solution or at least a direction to explore if you report a problem. That will show that you have initiative.
- Keep it short and simple. Managers are busy people who don’t have a lot of time to read. If she wants the details, she will ask.
- If you plan to write status reports, write them regularly, or at least keep a running list of accomplishments, so you don’t spend hours tracking down what you have done. Jot down some notes each day when you fill out your time card.
- Give credit where credit is due. Thank a coworker for all her help with a difficult task. If you helped somebody else, say so.
- Be specific.
- Be honest. Don’t report more work than you have already done.
- It’s okay to report that you began something, read something, or researched something. Not everything happens inside one week, and preparatory activities may take time and add value.
- If you write this report on Friday afternoon, it can be a good reminder on Monday morning of where you were.
- If you have many of the same sorts of things to track (purchase orders, change orders, work orders, invoices), a spreadsheet or database might be an easier way to keep tabs on that part of your work.
- Keep copies of your status reports for your own reference. They can help you to write a resume or list accomplishments when it comes time to ask for a raise.
- You can use this approach for a face-to-face status report in a meeting, too.
- Especially if you email this status report, remember that it could go much further than you intend, so write in a professional manner.
- If you send your boss a status report she didn’t ask for, she might want another next week!
- In general, try to avoid promising more than you can deliver. Say what you can do.