Project status – Where does the project stand, how is the project doing?
“Everything is currently in the green zone!” – this could be the short description of the current state of a project. Interestingly, there is more content in this short description than might appear at first glance. “Everything”, for example, indicates that a sum of information contributes to this assessment. “… currently …” indicates that it is a current statement on a key date and that the project status may change over time. “…in the green zone” reveals that there is a graduated colour coding that expresses the state of the project. And last but not least, “Everything currently in the green zone!” also means that it is an assessment; an evaluation of the progress of a project.
In short, the project status is the assessment of the current project progress and project state on a reference date. In a figurative sense, it answers the questions “Where does the project stand?” and “How is the project doing?
The addressees of the project status
There can be a whole range of people and groups of people who are interested in a project status:
- company management,
- governing bodies such as the steering board, change control board or shareholders’ meeting,
- project management office,
- project staff,
- suppliers and
In other words, a selection of stakeholders. Stakeholders are persons or organisations that are directly or indirectly affected by or have an interest in the activities (and projects) of a company. Interestingly, the information that these persons or organisations want to know about the project varies:
- For example, a client wants to know if the project will be completed on time and thus as agreed.
- A project management office may want to know whether the capacity allocated is sufficient to complete the project on time.
- The governing body may want to know what decisions are needed to keep the project within the agreed budget.
- And for the company management, a simple visual representation in the form of a traffic light is often sufficient. With “green – everything is fine” and possibly also with “yellow – there is a need for action”, the management does not become active itself, but with “red – the project’s success is at risk” it does.
The addressees of the project status (and a documented project status report) provide the information that is needed in general or in particular.
Contents of the project status
The project status can express a wide variety of aspects of a project, including
- the project phase the project is in (e.g. in preparation, planning, implementation, completion or commissioning),
- the stage of completion of individual work packages, e.g. using the 0/100, 20/80 or 50/50 method,
- the consumption of human, material or financial resources, supplemented by a cost trend analysis if necessary,
- the schedule situation, supplemented by a milestone trend analysis if necessary,
- the risk assessment with reference to the overall project or individual project aspects, if necessary presented in the form of a risk matrix.
Since the project status is always a snapshot, there should be agreement in the organisation that the determination (or assessment) is a regularly recurring task that extends across the different project phases. The means of expression used for this (quantitative values, qualitative evaluations, indicators such as earned value or a schedule performance index) and when the determination is made must be agreed individually with the addressees.
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