Design Your Status Report for an Audience of Leaders
Be honest: When it comes time to choose the routine status report you are to use in your project, are your actions on autopilot? Do you simply download the standard template or copy one from your last project?
There are reasons why you should take a little more time to consider the design of your current status report. These reasons are your audience. The design of your report should enable communication of information on their terms, just as user experience is considered in design of application interfaces.
The audience for the status reports covered in this article is made up of executives and/or senior leaders. You already know what information they need in general: transparency into your project and evidence that you can be trusted to manage the project to their needs.
To plan your status report redesign, you must first know their needs as report users. Here’s a quick audience analysis (you can add to these and adjust these points to fit your project):
- Short attention span
- Interested to know that they will get expected results—and especially if they will not
- Driven to produce results, typically improving results over last fiscal period
- Frustrated by excessive detail and “walls of words”; will ask questions rather than read paragraphs
- Prefer detail only when intervention needed
- Comfortable interpreting charts and graphs
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"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
- Groucho Marx