Performance reporting can take place as part of any project management process group. But it is most commonly associated with Execution and Control/Monitoring processes. The information in these reports is distributed to stakeholders according to the communications management plan. There are many aspects of performance that may be covered in such reports. Here are some of the most common:
Cost & Budget
Cost updates are usually of primary interest to stakeholders in upper management who are under pressure to keep spending to a minimum. These reports make it possible to determine how closely a project is adhering to the planned budget. If it becomes obvious that the estimated budget is inadequate, the cost baseline may be raised. Or, other aspects of the project scope may be adjusted to reduce costs. These corrective actions typically require input from multiple stakeholder groups to reach an effective solution.
For stakeholders who need a look at the bigger picture, performance reporting may cover variances in both cost and schedule – as these are usually interrelated. Timekeeping software that logs hours worked on a project can be useful for generating this type of report. For example, it can highlight whether the planned amount of human resources (as measured in labor hours) are being devoted to achieving project milestones. If the hours worked are fewer than planned, it would be easy to figure out that unexpected cost savings are tied to the fact that the project work is being delayed. Forecasting that updates the anticipated completion of various schedule activities is another critical part of overall performance reporting.
When there are shortfalls in the quality of project work, reporting must happen in stages. First, there is the notification about the initial quality variance. Next is the suggested course of action (along with the reasoning behind the decision). Finally, the outcome of the course correction is reported. Skipping one of these steps can lead to lack of confidence on the part of stakeholders. For example, hiding the fact that there is a problem in the first place makes others think there may be even worse problems lurking under the surface. Notifying stakeholders about a quality issue but failing to communicate about how it will be fixed may leave them wondering if the issue is being taken seriously. Not reporting on the outcome makes them assume the project management team isn’t following through effectively.
Other Reporting Aspects
Contract performance is an important reporting area in projects that require substantial acquisition of resources. These reports can measure how well a vendor is adhering to contract terms. This information can be used to determine whether a vendor should be incentivized or penalized and if they will be permitted to bid on future projects.
Risk reporting is not a common practice in project management, but perhaps it should be. Over the course of any large project, the risks tend to change rather than remaining static. Accurate assessments and reporting can have a significant impact on decision making.
Lessons learned are considered organizational process asset updates. These lessons are actually collected throughout the project but might only be reported formally during the closing process.