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I have a few projects and I want to prepare/update and send reports about them. Could you suggest me any tool/application/web-site which can do the following things:

  • Describe a project's current status
  • Set percent of completed work
  • Set status of a project (Idle, In progress, Closed etc.)

I need to find any useful tool which can help me not with creating, assigning and tracking tasks. But with creating reports about projects.

  • Are you looking for an online tool or just something to create a report that you can send out? – Erin Beierwaltes Jan 31 '12 at 20:58
  • @ErinBeierwaltes: I'd like to have an online tool – misho Feb 1 '12 at 12:58
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Excel and PowerPoint-

I've yet to find a single tool that can be tailored to the needs of all the stakeholders. To often I waste a lot of time futzing with the tool and not enough doing real work.

When I joined a company, they had this massive status report slide deck. Less than eight projects being reported on and it probably ran close to 100 slides. Had to be updated every single week and my boss spent a whole day on it each week. And it was pretty much useless. It gave so much detail and not enough perspective that people just glazed over.

I replaced it all with a spreadsheet, with four pages. Within a year I was tracking over twenty projects on it and anyone could look at it and quickly know the status and high points of each project. Took me maybe an hour a week to update.

The key was I didn't start with the tool. I started with what people needed (not wanted, needed) and found the easiest way to deliver that.

Try the butter knife in your drawer, before going an buying the $100 Swiss Army knife.

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Depending on what it is you are looking for, i see two solutions:

If you want to have some simple progress reports accessible to anyone interested, it probably would be easiest to make them yourself, with something like an excel spreadsheet. Pick out the key points you want to represent, collect the data every week and update your spreadsheet. This way, you will have put in more work yourself, but will not have to implement any tools or solutions to change up your process.

Another way to go, would be to implement some sort of a project management tool that creates reports automatically from the data enterred. This would require some major changes within the organization though and i would only recommend it if you want to have that sort of a tool anyways. Getting it just for reports, without realizing other capabilities it has, would be a huge waste.

If you do decide to go with a tool, make sure to get one that fits your company the best. My team has been using Eylean Board, because of the flexibility and ease of use it offers.

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Slide is OK for the report to top management. Keep it to just 1 page but include:

  • the program schedule(only the milestone)
  • cost analysis
  • program risk
  • next step action

Top management only needs to focus on the Cost, quality and schedule of the project, so just update them to the status quo.

And do remember, be a program manager, you should update the program risk to let top management know what the risk is and what is your mitigation plan, also what kind of help you want to ask from them!

I hope this can help.

  • Daniel, do you mean just PowePoint slide? – misho Feb 1 '12 at 7:49
  • yes,just PPT is enough and OK – Daniel Xu Feb 23 '12 at 13:43
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For a simple, free, online solution, I would use a Google Doc that is then permissioned for a set of people. You could treat it as a sort of dashboard that you update or make a new one weekly so there is an archive.

Depending on how dynamic or static you want the data to be would determine which Google App you use. (spreadsheet vs. doc vs. presentation)

  • Our organization uses Google Spreadsheets and inserts either new rows or new worksheets in the spreadsheet to show the most current data as well as maintain a running archive. It does indeed work out a lot better because it can be tailored. There is even an API so developers could pull the data from the sheets and perform other operations on it. – jmort253 Feb 3 '12 at 17:35
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Our company uses Redmine to handle projects.

Now I don't know how you want to present the report, but with Redmine we give fine grained access* to our clients where they can follow the actual state of the project, they can see what tasks are done or blocking other tasks, and while every task (done/open or closed) is commented, they get an rather detailed inside on the status of the project.

And with the version control of project steps (Roadmap), they get a detailed list of how much overall is done in percents and expected date of release (or how much time overdue).

So all you asked in your question we do with Redmine. If you're looking for an hosted solution, there is planio who host Redmine installations.

Take a look on those, maybe you'll find thzm as useful as we do.

* fine grained means that we give not access to all the tasks concerning the projects. Some tasks are internal and don't concern the client.

We're not affiliated with either mentioned links.

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