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How should I structure my weekly status report in such a fashion that I can have senior management attention to the issues being reported?

Being objective, how to properly and effectively report

Ongoing task slippage

  • the schedule is slowly going off-track and if no action is taken, team won't be able to deliver the expected results

Ongoing scope creep

  • the scope is not being restricted to the original agreements and new requirements are arriving right after the latest new requirement

Inability to remain accountable to deadlines

  • the team / management / stakeholders is not able to demonstrate committment and deadlines are at risk
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    "Start a general sense of panic"...always an effective way to run a team. Good luck. – Venture2099 Apr 12 '17 at 9:41
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    This reads like (s)he is trying to report up and no one is paying attention. Am I right? If so, while this was funny to read, you ought to redraft your question because conveying risk to get senior management to respond, i.e., get some sponsorship going, is a rather normal issue on projects. – David Espina Apr 12 '17 at 17:45
  • I'm on the bubble about whether this question is too opinion-based. I feel like there's a good question in there that could be on-topic with some editing, but as written it's extremely subjective and (as David points out) possibly an X/Y problem. – Todd A. Jacobs Apr 12 '17 at 18:17
  • Gave my shot with the updates - please, roll it back if the question is no longer addressing your problem. – Tiago Cardoso Apr 13 '17 at 0:02
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    Thank you for the edit @TiagoCardoso ! I think this helps focus what I'm trying to achieve however I was particularly interested in the words or phrases that people find help trigger an emotional response to certain topics. I'm finding that too often the language of PM status reporting can receive some glazed over attention. I guess I'm struggling with how to phrase that. – Friendly Sheep Apr 13 '17 at 11:01
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I don't think there is a canonical answer to this but I understand completely what you are after in your reporting. One problem that I see in reporting is we typically display the metrics in raw form, e.g., CPI = 0.84, versus the results of the analysis of the metrics. We may only display in the report, for example, a process run chart, instead of explaining what the run chart is saying to us: this jump is normal cause or this jump indicates a special cause trend and requires analysis and intervention. It's akin to your doctor showing you your xray film with no explanation of what it means. I witness a lot of eyes glazing over when this happens.

On the other front around emotional responses, you are faced with different personality types and hidden agendas when trying to find trigger words. For example, if you have any experience around the DiSC Assessments, you'd likely find different emoting words necessary for folks who are high DI low SC; high SC low DI; or high DC low IS people. Also, people with whom we work have personal agendas and much of that could be hidden. You would have to find that trigger word that impacts their agenda to get a response.

I think this is the art of communication and stakeholder engagement. I think the heart of your question is a valid one and speaks to these two areas of project management. The answer, however, is a complex one and one where there is no one size fits all. You will need to really understand your audience, those who are consuming your reports, and experiment with your reporting language. This also means you need to LISTEN for what they are asking, really listen, because many times they are asking for something different than what their verbal ask indicated.

This is getting to the psychology of us, personalities, and cognitive biases.

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