Thursday, November 16, 2006

November 3, 2006 - Garage Style Status Reporting

My garage is a mess. In addition to the boxes of clothes to be donated, old dressers with broken drawers and the large pile of stuffed animals there are a couple of projects in process. If I were to update you weekly on the activity in my garage you probably don’t care about most of it. This concept hold true for your status reports.

There are infinite variations of information given on status reports, but all of then convey what has been done for the recent period of time. Management doesn’t want details; they want to know what you started and what you completed. Here are some not-so-good phrases to avoid on your status report.

Met with team and discussed testing. Nobody really cares about meetings. They want decisions. You wouldn’t care that my wife and I discussed paint colors for an hour. You may be interested if we decided to paint the living room mauve. Replace “discussed” with decisions such as “Outlined Test Strategy and assigned Joe to begin creating the Test Plan.”

Continued developing Credit Collection application. One of my friends has an old mustang he is refinishing in his garage. It does me no good to have him generically tell me it is still a work in progress. It would be better for him to say, “I had the radiator re-cored and hooked it back in. Now I’m starting on replacing the hoses.” Better statements in your status might be “Completed Module X. Started design of Module Y.” Break it down and report real progress.
Development is about 90% complete. Random, unsupported percent complete is worse than giving no status. It gives the impression of accuracy without the reality. Sometimes the last 10% takes longer to complete than the first 90% did. Break the activity into pieces and reporting the number complete. The 90% complete would then become “Completed 18 of the 20 modules. The remaining 2 are scheduled for completion by the end of next week.”
Once you get your status reports cleaned up, maybe you can help me with my garage.

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