Imagine you have completed a project, then what? In this article, I want to introduce you to a very technical aspect of Idea Management. We will explore the need for a project report and also how to create one. You have the “ongoing status report” often termed mid-term project report and you have the “completed project report. Start either report with a brainstorm session. The brainstorm session is meant to help you remember and then journal everything about the project implemented so far. Do not self edit at this point. You want to put as much information on paper as possible so that you do not forget. Out of this brainstorm report document, you can begin to structure, style and create your actual project report.
What is a project report
A project report of a written document you use to showcase the results and findings of a project. It is often written alongside the project and completed after the project has ended. It is very important to develop the design fo a project report even at the very beginning of the project. If you have received a grant or any kind of investment for your idea or venture, you might need to submit a report.
This report should show the activities you carried out, how you spent the grant and more information around evaluation and results. Some grant offices have their own template for writing a project report. So be sure to ask or get the template before you begin the project. This helps you to stay on track and gather the needed information.
When do you need one
As mentioned above, you might need a project report if you have received financing of any kind for your project. Also if it is a grant that is paid in instalment, you will need a mid-term project report to be able to get the next payment out. There is a difference between the mid-term report and the final report. The mid-term report shows what has been accomplished already. The status quo!
Also, it reflects any changes relating to the original project idea and the challenges you are facing. This is when you can request significant adjustment to the overall project. The final report is submitted at the end of the project. One assumes, you have either completed the project as expected or ended the project due to some specific significant reason. If so, you will have to elaborate on these specific reasons within your project report.
Some important relevance of a project report
- Use a report as a tool to evaluate your project.
- It helps to ensure that you stay on track.
- If you have a team, it provides them with information so that everyone is on the same page.
- A project report is also useful to show the public what you have been up to with a specific project.
- You can also use a project report to show potential investors or partners the status quo of your venture.
Tips to structure a project report
Start with the objectives of the project. You must have submitted a project proposal at the beginning. Check the format of the proposal and use this to format your report if there is no template available.
Must include in your report
- Cover – include a report cover which is the executive summary of the report. This is not more than one page. And you often can create this after you have finished writing the report.
- Table of content – If your report is long or more than 20 pages, I suggest you include a table of content to help people navigate the report better.
- Define your objective – think about why and what you want to communicate with the report.
- Audience – Know who will read the report or who it is for. Make sure to write in their language, style and context.
- A report should have some facts, statistics if available and data that can back your conclusions or steps taken during the project.
- Make provisions to communicate any evaluation and monitoring methods you used during the project.
- It is important to provide the background of the report before going into details about the activities.
- Include challenges you faced during the project and any contingencies you implemented to counter these challenges.
- Activities – break them down into milestones if you did so initially at the project proposal. If not, find a structured way to arrange the activities. A simple bullet point can also work if they are not too complex. But if there are sub-activities, you need to report on, then you should use headings to section your activities.
- In some reports, you might need to create a separate document to report about the budget or numbers if this is a significant part of the project. Especially if you received funding for the project, you will have to report about how the money was spent or allocated.
- Recommendations – this is very important in reports as it helps readers or the audience to learn from your experience.
- Now do you forget the conclusion of the project which you should highlight in the report. Conclusions are like the big take away or “Aha” from the project.
- And then do not forget to mention the team, special people that assisted or contributed to the project. Make space to say thank you and give credits when due.
Re-read with a fresh eye
After you have completed your project report, make sure to read it again for errors, complex explanations and confusions. Try to write the report as easy to read as possible. Remember those that will read the report do not or may not have participated in the project, so provide enough background information without overexplaining. After you are done, it is time to add some images or any other documentation you gathered during the project. If you have a team member, be sure to send them to read and give feedback before you share your report. You might also write the report in a team, so make sure to debate specific areas thoroughly. Also learn to pitch your report in about 3-5 minutes, as you might end up only presenting your report verbally. Now you are ready to share your project report.
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