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The Weekly Status Report Template

David Wallace Croft
Senior Software Architect
CroftSoft Inc.

2002-10-25

Abstract

Use of the weekly status report is a well known project management tool that I have seen practiced at a number of software development sites over the years. This document introduces the tradition by providing a weekly status report example with template section descriptions.

Example

From: David Wallace Croft
To: Client or Project Manager
Subject: status report, David Croft, 2001-06-17

Weekly Status Report of
David Wallace Croft
for the Last Week Ending
2001-06-17 Sunday

Activities Planned for Last Week

  • Document the revised architecture.

  • Rework the database connectivity.

  • Revise the installation documentation.

Activities Accomplished Last Week

  • Discovered that source code files had been corrupted during project version control synchronization. In attempting to restore from backup, I was informed by the Sys Admin that the most recent run of the automatic backup process had already overwritten all files with the corrupted versions. I was further surprised to learn that periodic full backup snapshots are not created and stored off-site. Restored files to near original state by writing script to seek and remove all spurious characters.

  • Implemented temporary backup solution.

  • Documented the revised architecture.

Activities Planned for Next Week

  • Track progress of systems backup policy revision request.

  • Rework the database connectivity.

  • Revise the installation documentation.

New Issues

  • We need to create full backups periodically and store them off-site.

Old Issues

  • The application server needs to be upgraded.


--
David Wallace Croft, Senior Software Architect
CroftSoft, Inc. (http://www.croftsoft.com/)
(214) 731-9284 / david@croftsoft.com

Subject Line

Assuming that the status reports will be sent by e-mail and then archived in message folders sortable by subject, using a consistent subject line format can make searching for a particular status report much easier.

Activities Planned for Last Week

This will always be a cut-and-paste verbatim copy of the content of the "Activities Planned for Next Week" section from the previous status report. Although redundant, this allows the report reviewer to quickly compare the activities projected with the activities actually accomplished as documented in the section immediately following.

The report author will use this section to remind himself of planned activities as he fills in the template with his accomplishments throughout the week. Many developers print a paper copy of this section and pin it to their wall at the beginning of each new reporting period for quick reference. This promotes a concentration of focus and a sense of progress as each planned activity on the list is initiated and completed.

Activities Accomplished Last Week

This section is the heart of the report. The accurate documentation of recent activities facilitates management by the employer and communicates progress to the client. It provides the employee with the opportunity to advertise his contributions and permits the contractor to justify his invoice.

The activities actually accomplished in the previous week may or may not have any relationship to what was planned. It is important to both the author and the reviewer that actual activities are listed, regardless of whether planned or not, in order to validate and manage the consumption of time and labor.

Throughout the week the report author will add items to this section as they are accomplished. This incremental approach ensures the all relevant activities are recorded and reduces the probability that a report will be delayed or skipped due to the difficulty of writing the report when memories have faded or the deadline is imminent.

I recommend that the author avoid delaying the submission of a report for the purpose of including additional activities within this section. Likewise, it is not necessary to delay "closing" this section until full and complete accomplishment of a subtask. The intent of periodic reports is to act as a regular and consistent snapshot in time of actual progress. Furthermore, intentional delays by the author may have the unintended effect of increasing developer stress as the report itself then becomes yet another overdue task. By establishing a consistent pattern of punctual report delivery, an author can increase reviewer confidence.

Activities Planned for Next Week

In this section, the report author records what he anticipates his activites will be for the coming week. Note that we use the phrases "Last Week" and "Next Week" instead of "This Week" to prevent ambiguity. The report is assumed to be written just after the end of all activity for "Last Week" and just before any activity is initiated for "Next Week".

These planned activities should vary from week to week in sufficient detail that a reviewer can detect the rate of progress. For example, a very general planned activity such as "Work on user interface" can be uninformative if simply repeated week after week without breaking it down into subtasks.

This section has the effect of promoting the temporary cessation of activity for a moment of reflection and review. By requiring the report author to update this section on a weekly basis with relevant content, the exercise will lead to a reevaluation of short-term goals in light of the current project status and external forces.

An additional beneficial effect of this section is that it prevents misunderstanding and miscommunication between the developer and the project manager or client. In reviewing the planned activities for the next week as documented by the developer within the role of report author, the reviewer has the opportunity to clarify any misinterpretations of expectations and redirect short-term goals if necessary.

New Issues

The new issues section is a place for the author to alert the reviewer to any current or projected problems that may delay or derail the scheduled delivery. It may be as simple as a planned vacation or as complicated as blocked task requiring management attention.

Old Issues

This section is a weekly reminder to the reviewer of problem issues that have been previously reported by not yet been resolved. This low-priority reminder is always placed at the bottom of the report as it may become quite lengthy over time with only minor updates from week to week.

As the content for this section may not frequently change, it is likely that regular reviewers will skim past this section. For this reason, any new issue should not be placed within the Old Issues section until they have been introduced within the New Issues section in the current or a previous report. Furthermore, such issues should be copied verbatim from the New Issues to the Old Issues section as any rewording may contribute new information which may never be read or require the unnecessary reexamination of an issue previously described in other terms.

Contact Information

A status report reviewer will frequently desire to contact the author for further explanation on one or more of the included topics. Providing contact information within the closing signature block obviates the need for the reader to retrieve that information from his records, which may or may not be readily available, on a periodic basis over an extended period of time. It is especially useful to include a phone number as the reader may not have access to a network connection at the time of review.

© 2002 CroftSoft Inc.

 
 
 
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