Write a Status Report
Whether or not your boss asked you for a status report, writing one can be a good opportunity to effectively communicate your accomplishments. A good status report will not only keep your boss up to speed, but also help keep you on track with your assignments. Here are the fundamentals of writing a reader-friendly status report.
Sample Status Reports
Doc:Status Report,Project Status Report,Employee Status Report,Student Status Report,Business End of Year Report
Writing a Status Report
- Name and date the report. A name containing the date (ex. “Summary for the Week of December 1”) is an easy, efficient option. Be sure to date the report.
- 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.
- Provide details identifying the project. These include the project/assignment title, the starting and/or ending date, and the names of the people who have worked on it.
- Explain what has been accomplished. Use a heading such as "Accomplishments," "Completed Tasks," "Completed Action Items," or even simply "Done."
- Be sure to specify the reporting period (i.e. week, month, quarter, etc.).
- Use active verbs to start the sentences. These include words like completed, defined, solved, designed, organized, improved, fixed, and filed, to name a few examples.
- For a brief weekly report, 3 to 6 one-sentence bullet points may be enough.
- List what will be done during the next reporting period. A good heading for this new section is "Planned tasks", "Next Steps", or "To Do."
- Estimate the amount of time a task will require, if you can do so confidently. Ex. "Document the bracket design change. (Estimated time: 2 days)."
- Refer to any schedules you have been given.
- Again, 3 to 6 lines should be enough for a brief report.
- Discuss any problems or potential problems. This is where you should clarify any need for guidance or help. "Open Issues" or "Issues and Comments" are good headers for this section, which can be a short paragraph or two.
- Perhaps you're having trouble reaching a supplier because nobody is in the office this week. Perhaps you have a suggestion on how to improve the way the business is run. These are the kinds of details you’ll want to include in this section.
- If you are simply reporting the problem and don't require assistance at this point, say so. Comments such as "We expect to solve this issue within the next 2 days" let supervisors know that they do not need to get involved but should monitor the situation.
- If a situation does not get resolved, your supervisor cannot complain that you did not inform him/her earlier.
- Proofread your writing and send it to whoever needs it.
Here is what a status report might look like if it were written by a wikiHow 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 from the Week Commencing 26 September, 2011
- 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 Provide First Aid for a Broken 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 Provide First Aid for a Broken 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.
- 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 honest. Don't report more work than you have already done.
- If you write this report on Friday afternoon, it can be a good reminder on Monday morning of where you were.
- Keep it short and simple. Managers are busy people who don't have a lot of time to read. If he wants the details, he will ask.
- Be specific.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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