Reporting status to your team (internal) and to stakeholders (external) requires different communication approaches.
Regardless of being co-located or remote, most teams follow agile methodologies. So, status and progress reporting within the team is done during stand-ups, which can be daily or happen multiple times per week. Stand-ups are the perfect environment for each individual to talk about progress and any blockers they might be dealing with.
Typically each team is supported by a Program Manager, who guarantees the initiative is delivered on the timeline agreed by all stakeholders. The Program Manager will also interface with the external stakeholders on behalf of the team, and will join the team stand-ups and gather team updates, so they can regularly check-in and report progress to the Engineering manager.
Engineering managers, who are responsible for the technical quality of the work delivered, support multiple teams, work closely with Program managers to get visibility into what each team is doing. They usually have weekly or bi-weekly check-ins with Program Managers to get a pulse on the progress of each team, help escalate priorities and remove any blockers the teams are dealing with.
To propagate that information and give visibility to other stakeholders and leaders in the company, top-performing companies have a consistent approach to reporting status. You can find more information about it in this article.
Summarizing it, this is how they do status report meetings:
- Do one every two weeks,
- Block 30 minutes to 1 hour,
- Anyone who's responsible or accountable for a specific milestone must be present,
- Folks that need to be informed about progress are invited but
attendance is optional,
- Go over the progress since the last meeting, what's blocked, and what will be delivered by the next meeting,
- Take note of any blockers and action items, and assign someone to
work on them, Take time to celebrate accomplishments.
And because the main goal of these meetings is to provide visibility into company-wide initiatives, the meeting agenda is shared in advance and every attendee responsible for an initiative reports progress following specific guidelines:
- Project and elevator pitch, so everyone can understand what the
project is about.
- Timeline for the project. This is a recap of how much time to ship the deliverable to customers, where you are today, and other major milestones.
- Review action items from last status meetings and check they were completed.
- Progress since the last status meeting. People responsible for deliverables do a demo at this point.
- Activities that are blocked or at risk. At this point the team creates action items to get those activities unblocked.
- Upcoming activities. All activities and milestones that need to be done until the next status meeting.
- Celebrate accomplishments, achievements, and critical milestones.
The Program manager is usually the one organizing these status meetings. Some of their responsibilities involve taking notes, making sure the meeting starts and ends on schedule, and following up on the meeting's action items.
This way, information about the progress on a specific initiative is propagated across the company. From teams to all stakeholders involved, everyone has visibility into company initiatives.