How to Write a Business Progress Report
A progress report consists of a header, an executive summary, a description of the smaller components, an indication of when the next report is due. You would write the report following this template and then send it to your boss or another reporting superior as designated.
The header contains identifying information for the report. You will enter the title, the date on a which the report is published, the stoplight status of whatever you're reporting on (red, yellow-green), and the overall metric, perhaps percent complete, plan versus actual. Note: A progress report such as this is most often used for projects, but can also be used to report on other things. For example, if you have been assigned the task of reducing the number of hours per drawing for an engineering firm you would use a progress report to show your progress in reducing the number of hours per drawing.
- Title: Project X Progress Report
- Date: May 30 20xx
- Status: Green
- Percent Complete: 63 actual, 59 plan
You write the executive summary last. This is the summary of all of the major points listed below in the body of the report. Depending on your audience, sometimes the executive summary is limited. That depends on your audience, the number of people receiving the report and their levels within the organization. An executive summary is targeted to those senior managers who may not have the time to read the entire report. If your report is directed to your immediate supervisor, it is expected that he or she will read the report and the executive summary may not be needed. However, if this is a report that is widely distributed to many executives throughout the organization, it may be necessary to include an executive summary for those individuals who do not have the time to read the entire report.
Progress of the Component Pieces
This is the main body of the report. In this section of the report, you detail your progress in all of the component areas of the project. You list your progress and accomplishments regarding all of the metrics during this time-period. You show what your plan is for the next time period. And then you list not only the blockers but also what efforts you are taking to clear them. Finally, the section will show what additional assistance is needed from your boss or another recipient of the progress report.
The body of the report is followed by in the summary section. It includes fewer details than the progress reported in the previous section. You would include the same information, metrics, accomplishments, plan for the next period, and any blockers, but provide fewer details for each category. For example, the summary might be a single sentence, like “all deliverables are on time,” while the progress write-up in the previous section might say “Deliverable A, due on xx/xx/xx will be delivered three days early. Report Y will be delivered on time on xx/xx/xx. And report C, delayed for two weeks while waiting for the graphics, is now expected to be delivered on its revised due date of xx/xx/xx.”
Next Report Due Date
Here you list when the next report will be sent out. If this is a weekly report, for example, you would show the next report due date as one week following. For a monthly report, you would show the date next month when the report would be sent out. People who receive the report will expect these data to be as accurate as the data in the reports.
Your progress report consists of the optional executive summary, the reporting of the progress of all the components of the project, the detailed summary, and the timeline. Make them as accurate as you can.