If you are reading this article you are probably facing the taunting task of writing a status report. Contrary to the popular belief, writing a progress report can be very easy and highly effective. Not convinced? Keep reading, I will explain everything in detail.
It is called PPP – Progress Plans and Problems technique, used by the likes of Skype, Ebay and Facebook. PPP is mostly loved by both managers and team members for its simple structure. In addition, it doesn't take much time to neither fill in nor to read.
As Cleve Gibbon aptly put it, PPP is “rich in stuff, low in fluff”. His opinion is shared by the likes of Emi Gal (CEO of Brainient) and Colin Nederkoorn (CEO of Customer.io), both of whom use PPP to organize and streamline their respective enterprises.
In case you are looking for an online reporting tool or software I advise you to check out the best status reporting tool out there – Weekdone.
Before diving into the details, I would like to give you an overview what will you gain from this article. I promise to keep it as simple and quick as is PPP reporting.
- What is PPP and how to use it
- How to write a status report: best practices and tips
- Successful case studies
- Progress & status reporting template sample
What is PPP and how to use it: best practices and tips
Progress, Plans and Problem is a management technique for recurring (daily, weekly or monthly) status reporting. A person reports 3-5 achievements, goals and challenges from the reporting period. It is used in organizations in situations like employee to manager, team member to team or CEO to board, investors and advisors reporting.
- Progress: Employee's accomplishments, finished items and closed tasks for the period ending.
- Plans: Goals and objectives for the next reporting period.
- Problems: Items that are stuck and can’t be finished. Problems often need help from someone else, not just the employee.
That's it, simple enough, right? PPP is the foundation of every status report. You can add different categories or items to make it suitable for you or your organization. For example, you can add a weekly review or special events and campaigns. For example, in Weekdone team we use “Things I read” category for all the interesting and useful materials that will help the company move forward.
How to write a status report
Actually, we have already covered this point in the previous paragraph, that is the magic of PPP – it is the world's simplest status report. Nevertheless, I would like to share the full overview with you guys.
When writing a status report, always keep in mind the question: “What is the current status?”
- Progress: the past, what has been achieved already.
- Plans: the future, what are the goals, objectives and plans.
- Problems: what challenges have been encountered
First of all, the perfect number of items under each category is 5-7, no more. This approach will make you more focused on getting the most important tasks done, rather than creating the appearance of being busy.
Secondly, when you are writing a status report, keep in mind the people who are reading it. You are not writing for yourself. Always think of your manager or your co-worker, what is the tone of writing they would understand? Use longer, comprehensible sentences but also try to avoid writing essays. 5-7 keywords per sentence.
Thirdly, one thing in common with every great status reporting practice is regularity. In some organizations they use status reporting daily, but in my opinion this is too excessive and time consuming. On the other hand, quarterly reporting is too long. In a world where very few have the attention and discipline to read another document daily, the best practice is weekly or monthly. I would personally recommend weekly reporting, because it allows everybody to react quickly enough and will keep the reports short and concise, 5-7 items.
Successful case studies:
- How Whole Foods Market Improved Meetings By Using Weekly Progress Report
- How Status Reports Helped AgoraPulse Go Remote
- How Arrow's Team Plans a Winning Strategy
- How Belfor's Team Recovers Disasters and Achieves Goals
- How Pennington and Bailes Has Increased Team Focus and Communications
Progress & status reporting template sample
Funnily enough, for a template sample you only need 3 words: Progress, Plans and Problems. Congratulations, this is your template, add 3 words of PPP as headings and under each category list the items. Use a pen and paper, email, Google Docs, Excel spreadsheets or a specialized beautifully designed status reporting tool like Weekdone.
Just in case, I will share a status report template sample to get you started. Good luck!