What Are Performance Reports? (With Benefits and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 26, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Performance reporting can show you and stakeholders how far a project has advanced while also identifying areas for improvement. The reports may advise companies to maintain current plans, adjust others, or change course. If you're working on a project with stakeholders, it’s beneficial to understand the different types of performance reports so that you can keep them aware of progress. In this article, we define performance reports, discuss the benefits of performance reporting, explore the process, list the various types, and review how to write one.

What are performance reports?

Performance reports provide an overview of a company’s performance through a compilation of analysis, predictions, revenue, and budgets. Project managers use these reports to inform stakeholders of a project's progress. This entails collecting and analyzing data on all the processes involved in a project.

Typically, the participants create a project communication management strategy that specifies the number of reports they may generate throughout the project and the elements to include in them. Those working in finance, manufacturing, transportation, education, automotive, construction, business, and healthcare may use performance reports for projects in their sectors. When working on a project, it's possible to integrate many reports, compare them with one another, and extract relevant information from prior reports. The reports may be text-based documents, such as spreadsheets and graphs, or image-based documents like tables and charts.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Business Reports (With an Example)

Benefits of performance reporting

Here are some advantages of performance reporting:

  • Provides transparency: Performance reporting provides transparency to stakeholders who have invested in the project and allows them to see how those involved are using their resources throughout the project.

  • Leaves less room for error: Regular reporting may reveal any possible faults, thus leading to a quicker resolution of these issues.

  • Measures productivity: The reports can also help you track productivity and inform you of a completion date for a project.

  • Follows regulations: Creating reports also helps to ensure that those involved adhere to the standards and restrictions inherent in the project.

Related: What Is a Performance Improvement Plan? (With an Example)

Elements of the performance reporting process

Even though the elements of a performance report depend on the type of report involved, some aspects are common to most types:

  • Analysis of previous performances: Typically, these reports include an analysis of past performances so that management may compare the output, quality, and length of projects.

  • Summary of changes: Also included in reports are any changes made to a project plan along with the reason for each modification.

  • The next steps: The reports include the next steps that a team intends to take on a project.

  • Project estimation: Updated project estimates are in the reports, along with financial forecasts and output results.

  • Information for stakeholders: These reports include information that stakeholders may want, such as specifics regarding materials, project participants, and deadlines.

  • Work performance data: Work performance data includes details on a project's timeline and the expenditure to date.

  • Work performance measurement: Work performance measurement allows the participants in a project to compare actual and projected progress.

Related: Performance Review Goals (Definition, Types, and Importance)

Performance reporting types

Stakeholders and project participants may receive these reports by e-mail or specialist reporting tools. Here are several types of reports that you may generate:

Status report

A status report provides information on a project’s standing. It indicates if the project is on track to meet its deadlines, summarizes the project's specifications, identifies areas for improvement, and lists any achieved targets. Status reports may keep stakeholders informed of the project's general progress and any modifications. Depending on the project communication management strategy, it's typical to generate frequent status reports during a project.

Progress report

A progress report details all the work done on the project since the last report. It also describes any objectives you've achieved or revisions you’ve made to the project's plans. Progress reports allow you to gauge your productivity by comparing your current report with previous ones. The following are examples of activities that you may include in a progress report:

  • completed survey results on [date] and [time]

  • implemented project feedback starting on [date]

  • received results from community engagement on [date]

  • updated project proposal to include current regulations

  • used [type of resource] from stakeholders on [date]

Trend report

A trend report looks for any recurring issues that have appeared in several previous progress reports so that the project team can identify and resolve those issues. It compares the project’s current performance with its most recent recorded performance. You can complete these reports every week, month, or year throughout the project, depending on deadlines and the length of the project. Trend reports show if a project's overall production rate is increasing or decreasing.

Variance report

A variance report compares the actual performance of a project with its estimated performance, using variables related to work performance measurement. These variables are the planned schedule performance compared with the actual scheduled performance, and the actual project cost compared with the planned project cost.

To create a variance report, you can identify key performance indicators for a project, which are typically outlined in the project plan, then calculate how many of those performance indicators you've achieved so far. A project's deadline is a common key performance indicator. For example, if a project doesn't meet its original deadline, then the report may show a large project variance.

Forecasting report

A forecasting report shows what a team can expect to happen during a project, predict future performance outcomes and provide expectations for project guidelines. The elements included in forecast reports are deadlines, cost, and overall project quality. In a forecast report, you can take the current status information and compare it with the expected project outcomes.

Earned value report

An earned value report uses mathematical calculations to indicate performance. Project teams base these calculations on the variances found in the performance report. They compare the time spent on the project and the cost of materials and labour with the amount of completed work. Earned value reports give you insight into the rate of production on the project.

Related: What Is a Performance Metric and Why Should You Use Them?

How to create a performance report

To create a performance report of your own, consider following these five steps:

1. Organize your data

Collaborate with teams to get the necessary information for your report. The sort of information you collect depends on the business, the project and the type of report necessary. Obtaining insights from this data might significantly contribute to the success of an organization by improving its data analytics.

2. Use a template

Providing an outline for a report is a solid starting point and makes it easy to incorporate the relevant data and other information, whether you create it yourself or use professional templates provided through software. When using recommended templates, just provide the parts pertinent to your report. The reports may include:

  • an introduction

  • organized sections and paragraphs that are easy to read

  • suggested next steps or solutions

  • any references

  • contact information of the person who compiled the report

  • a conclusion

3. Prepare the report

In many cases, several people collaborate to create various aspects of a performance report. For example, the sales team may include a section on revenue predictions, accomplished sales, pending sales, and future projections. Usually, a project manager coordinates all sections of a performance report that other departments or colleagues have submitted.

4. Check for errors before distributing

Proofread your report thoroughly. Check for any grammatical, punctuation, or formatting mistakes or any spelling errors your computer's spellcheck may have missed. Additionally, double-check all statistics, facts, and numbers before submitting the report for approval.

Related: How Employee Performance Is Measured and Why It's Important

5. Constantly monitor

The frequency of updates and distribution of performance reports depends on the business, the project, or a specific objective. Consider arranging regular updates, such as daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on your requirements. It’s important that companies monitor their performance on an ongoing basis to ensure they align with their goals and that any issues identified are swiftly dealt with.

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