The ability to schedule and delegate are key traits of an effective project manager (PM). PMs also need to be good at tracking the tasks they delegate to make sure individual tasks get done according to the project’s technical documentation plan. Weekly status reports serve as an excellent vehicle for task management and tracking the progress of your team members without making them feel micromanaged.
The goal of the weekly status report is to keep everyone involved and on the same page so that the project proceeds as smoothly and efficiently as possible. As a PM, you want to make sure that there is no confusion about the current status of your project. You also want to make sure that all of the issues and risks that affect the project’s scope, schedule, and cost are properly addressed and reported to the project stakeholders.
The biggest challenge with weekly reports is coming up with a way to make them brief yet effective.
An effective status report is one that:
- Is easy to complete
- Instantly conveys the state of the project
- Gets you help when you need it, and flexibility when you don’t
- Takes less than 30 minutes to fill out
To make status reports work for your team, you need to:
- Be clear about why the information is needed
- Provide a template that serves as an guide that can be completed quickly
- Be consistent with the reporting schedule so that stakeholders come to rely on receiving updates on a regular basis
- Make the report a useful tool for the technical writers so they can follow their own progress
- Set it up to easily identify scope creep. You can also use the reports as an archive to review at the end of your project to provide lessons learned for running your next project even more effectively
Attribute: Photo above courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
5 Steps for Task Tracking Delegated Work
Someone once defined delegation as "the art of getting things done through other people." This is true, but to make delegation work successfully for a technical writing project, you need to be able to track the tasks you delegate and verify that these tasks are completed as assigned. When delegating for your project:
1. Make sure the assignments are individual and specific. Confirm that each team member understands their assignments and accepts responsibility for them.
2. Spell out the outcome you expect. In other words, define the “deliverables” each team member is required to provide. This will enable you to determine if the individual tasks were completed as assigned.
3. Be clear about milestones and deadlines. Don’t assume. If a milestone or deadline is critical to completing your technical writing project on time or within budget, stress this to your team.
4. Use a weekly status report to task track. This is crucial. You need to be able to follow the progress and pitfalls of your project and provide assistance as needed to stay with your technical documentation plan.
5. Serve as a support resource for your team. Don’t let the weekly status report be your only interaction with your team. As the PM, your primary focus is the end result. Although you don’t want to micromanage, you do want to be available to guide your team to a successful outcome. Let team members know that you are available for one-on-one meetings as needed, email communication, and phone calls to keep informed.
What are some of the ways you track the progress of your technical writing projects? Please share them in the comments below.