What Are Project Statuses? (With Common Terms and Uses)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 9, 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.

Project statuses typically indicate where a team is in the process of completing a project. These statuses are often important when creating reports to share with stakeholders and other professionals. By learning about project statuses, you can improve your status reports and help ensure that all team members understand where the project is along its way to completion. In this article, we discuss the definition of project statuses, review several project status terms, explain project status reports, explore the benefits of project status reports, and describe how to create one of these reports.

What are project statuses?

Project statuses are the measurements that inform professionals about the progress made on their projects. Many project managers display these statuses on company reports and documents because they describe the different stages of the company's projects and their subsequent progress or level of completion. It's often beneficial to describe a project status by a tag or icon on reports to indicate their progress. For example, you can assign a specific icon to all completed projects.

Many professionals use different colours to indicate the statuses of projects, which allows them to assign a colour based on their varying levels of progress. For example, you can assign the colour green to a completed task and red to a task that requires more work.

Common project status terms

Here's a list of terms you can expect to see when working on a project that keeps track of its status:

  • Upcoming: An upcoming status indicates the client or employer is developing or preparing the project.

  • Pending: A pending project is one where the employer or client has approved its creation but have put it on pause temporarily.

  • Overdue: An overdue project is one that is still in progress even though the deadline has passed.

  • Not started: A project labelled as “Not Started” shows that the client or employer approved the project, but it has not yet been started.

  • Active: An active project means that the client or employer approved the project, and that it's still in progress.

  • Priority: Priority indicates that the team wants to address this project before completing others.

  • Cancelled: A cancelled project means that the project is no longer active, but that you can still access the information about its progress from reports.

What are project status reports?

A project status report is a document that provides updates about the progress made on a particular project. Project status reports can be valuable in projects that involve several professionals or teams because they offer a central resource for all updates about a project's progress. Members of a team can also share project status reports with company stakeholders to provide them with information about where their investments and resources go.

Project status reports are also essential when a project experiences challenges that slow its progress, like budget reductions and technical difficulties. The status report can inform a team about how they may want to adjust their operations to finish the project within the deadline and to the client's specifications.

Related: What Is an Agile Project Manager? (With Crucial Skills)

What are the benefits of project status reports?

The primary benefit of using these reports is that it reduces your manual work and creates a centralized platform for you to access the information. You can use project status report tools to automate data collection, which may help you make better decisions as you progress. Collecting data about the project often allows you to review the health of projects effectively and helps your colleagues have a unified understanding of the project's status. Having an overall understanding of the project's status helps ensure team members collaborate to develop solutions to potential obstacles.

After the completion of a status report, you typically share the information with project sponsors, teams, and stakeholders. If stakeholders want to know about any delays in the project, you can also send them the report and provide them with the information they require.

How to prepare a project status report

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you prepare status reports for projects:

1. Consider a project management tool

Before developing the physical report, you may want to consider gathering data with a project management tool. This can save you a significant amount of time and increase your efficiency because the program can obtain the data for you. Many project management tools allow you to develop status reports through simple templates, which you can then edit to include the missing information.

2. Give the report a relevant name

Assigning a name to a project status report is important because the name of a report provides a description that others can use to access it. This may be valuable for companies that complete multiple projects simultaneously because using a unique name for each project status report can distinguish it from others. It may help to name the report with a similar name to the project on which you're working because it's often easier to recognize the connection between the project and its status report that way.

3. Include the project's current status

Project status reports typically include the existing information about the project's status. The project status indicated in reports can vary depending on the report created because you may pause, continue, or complete projects between reports. This is important because it helps prepare readers for the information addressed in the report.

For example, if a client cancels a previously accepted project, the reader can expect to read about the reasons for the cancellation when they notice the status report. When you define the status of projects, you can use phrases or terms like "at-risk" or "in progress". If you complete a project, you can also indicate this at the beginning of the report.

3. Write a summary of the entire report

After the project status, you may want to include a brief summary of what the report discusses. This is often helpful for shareholders and readers who want to learn about a project's status and may not require all the details that a status report can provide. When writing a summary of your report, you can focus on the most important pieces of information from each section and use a single paragraph to express the general updates about a project. This typically allows the reader to review the information quickly.

Related: Project Manager vs. Project Coordinator: What Makes Them Different?

4. Highlight several milestones

Some professionals release multiple project status reports during the completion of a project, and you can include some milestones in each report that discuss the progress made. To do this, it may help to consider which updates you previously highlighted in your other reports to identify where the project experienced progress. Reviewing this information may also require you to assess data such as survey results, feedback, or comments from professionals who worked on the project.

5. Add a summary of each area

This survey differs from the general summary at the beginning of the report because it adds more depth to the specific sections. You can typically include a summary at the beginning of every section of the status report so readers can review the project phases that interest them. It's often beneficial to include this information for professionals who want to read the report quickly. You can also include bullet points in the summaries to provide primary statistics and relevant information.

6. Link to important resources

Some projects may involve supporting resources and documents, such as spreadsheets, surveys, and reports about specific processes. In these cases, it can help to add links to any relevant resources toward the end of a project status report to help ensure that readers who want more information can explore the sources directly. In this section, you can link documents, charts, or portfolios that display a project's materials. For example, if you want the reader to complete an employee satisfaction survey, you can include a link to the survey in this section.

Related: What Is Project Coordination and Why Is It Important?

7. Discuss any challenges

Many projects experience challenges that can affect their progress, and you may want to discuss these obstacles in the status report. This is because the team working on projects can better respond to obstacles when they have a general understanding of them and their impact. Discussing challenges in a project's status report can also provide an opportunity for readers to develop creative solutions they can share with a team to help them complete the project.

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