A progress report is a business document that provides updates on a project’s progress toward meeting a goal. Typically, you’ll provide a progress report for a supervisor/manager, team member, or business client to summarize a project’s status and what still needs to be completed or improved.
But how do you write an effective progress report for your business’s projects? In our guide below, we set out the typical structure of a progress report.
1. Header Information
A progress report should start with a header that includes key details about the report and the project. Typically, this will include the:
Name(s) and position(s) of the report’s recipient(s).
Name(s) and position(s) of the report’s author(s).
Subject or title of the report/project.
This will help the recipient to understand the contents of the report at a glance.
The introductory paragraph of a progress report should outline the purpose and timeframe of the project, plus any other important details or insights.
You can also include an overview of what the rest of your progress report will cover.
3. Work Completed
The next section of your report should be titled “Work Completed.” Here, you can provide a chronological list of the project tasks that you have already completed and their corresponding dates. You can also include key findings from those tasks.
4. Problems Encountered
The next section should outline any problems encountered in the project so far. You should then explain either how those problems were solved or how they will be solved, and whether any extra help will be required to do so. You will also need to mention if those problems prompted any changes to the project.
5. Future Plans
To highlight the goals for the remainder of the project, the next section of your report should outline any future project tasks with their corresponding dates or deadlines, anticipated problems, and/or ideas for the project as you move forward.
End your progress report with a brief summary of key completed tasks, ongoing tasks, and major issues encountered. You don’t need to go into too much detail here, though. Stick to the essential details.
5 Tips on How to Write a Progress Report
We also have some helpful tips you can use when writing a progress report:
Adapt the structure – While the structure outlined above will work for most projects, you can adapt it to suit your requirements. For instance, for a complex project with multiple goals, you may need to break it down into sections, detailing the progress, problems, and plans for each objective.
Choose an appropriate frequency – For ongoing progress reports, think about whether to schedule daily, weekly, or monthly updates.
Write clearly – Make sure to write clearly and concisely. Keep your sentences simple, straightforward, and easy to understand.
Know your audience – If you’re writing a report for someone outside of your organization or team, explain any industry-specific language you use.
Keep it professional – Make sure to use a formal tone, avoiding colloquial terms and phrases, slang, contractions, and other informal language.
Finally, to be sure your report looks and sounds professional, have it proofread. You can try our proofreading services by uploading a trial document for free today!
Example Progress Report
To see what a progress report might look like, check out our example report below:
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Date: September 24, 2021 To: J. Seymour, Head of Planning From: A. Boleyn, Planning Assistant Subject: Migration to new planning software
Since November 2016, Exemplar Inc. has used the PlanULike package to manage the company’s everyday operations. However, when we expanded to new territories in July 2021, the limitations of the software became evident, especially with regard to currency conversions when budgeting for projects in Europe. As a result, in August 2021, the decision was made to migrate to new planning software. This report covers the progress in this project made up until September 24, 2021.
August 30 – Research completed into available planning software packages. The PlanZone software is selected based on its flexible budgeting capabilities.
September 6 – A timeline is developed for installation and implementation of the new software package, with an initial deadline of September 30.
September 10 – Head of Human Resources, Jack Thacker, begins developing in-house instructional materials for the new software.
September 18 – Software is acquired and installed. Provisional version of internal training program is developed and tested with key staff members.
September 21 – IT department identifies software compatibility problems with older hardware in operations department. New equipment purchased.
September 24 – New computer hardware installed. After testing, training program is extended to heads of department in planning and operations.
The key problem encountered thus far has been a compatibility issue between the new software and some of the company’s existing hardware. Head of IT, Simon Robinson, reports that this was due to PlanZone including graphical features that Exemplar Inc. does not use and had not been factored into the initial planning.
Due to speedy delivery and installation of new hardware, this has not significantly affected the timeframe for the migration. But the unexpected expense does mean that the project is now significantly over budget.
In addition, the testing of the in-house training program took longer than anticipated to complete. Key staff are now familiar with the new software, but the deadline for company-wide training has been extended to November 15, 2021.
The improved training program will continue until November 15, 2021, when all relevant staff are expected to be familiar with the new software, after which all operational planning will use PlanZone, and the PlanULike systems will be deprecated by November 30, 2021. Due to exceeding the budget allocated for this project, a meeting will be scheduled for heads of department to discuss how the extra expenses may impact budgeting for other projects.
The company has acquired and installed new planning software (PlanZone), which is projected to enhance project planning and ease operations in new territories. However, unexpected hardware and training issues have slowed progress. Deadlines for the migration have thus been extended. Meanwhile, implications of the extra expenses will be factored into budgeting for upcoming projects.