Definition: Performance reports represent work status and progress to be provided to management for their information or to make decisions. Performance reports can be in electronic or physical form.
A performance report is sometimes known as a work performance report.
Monitoring and controlling is an essential part of project management that helps you keep the project on track. For this, you should know the current and planned progress of the project.
Comparing actual progress with the planned progress helps identify if the project is progressing as planned. If not, you can take corrective action as required.
Performance reports show the current status and progress. The project stakeholders are interested in these reports, as a glance at performance reports makes them aware of the project’s health.
Performance reports organize and summarize the project information and present it to the stakeholders. They clarify the direction the project is going and the expected future performance.
Performance reports depend on work performance data and work performance information.
Work performance data is the raw data of the project’s status. It is the current (“as of now”) status of project parameters, such as completed work, spent cost, the time elapsed, etc.
Work performance data helps you create work performance information.
Work performance information is derived from work performance data and can include progress status, forecasted estimates to complete, etc.
After preparing the work performance information, you will compare the planned performance with the actual performance and prepare a performance report for management’s review. This report can also include a forecasting analysis.
Performance reports show stakeholders the status of the project and its performance against the planned baselines.
Examples of Performance Reports
Examples of work performance reports include status reports, progress reports, trend reports, earned value reports, forecasting reports, variance reports, etc.
Below is an example of a performance report.
Performance Reports Template
Below is a template of a performance report.
Importance of Performance Reports
Performance reports are a tool for project managers to communicate project status and progress with project stakeholders.
These reports show stakeholders the project’s progress. They can also include forecast analysis, for example, if the project continues with the same performance, what additional funds, resources, or schedule extensions may be required to complete the project.
Performance reports help management review the status and progress of the project and decide the future course of action.
The following are the key reasons why an organization needs performance reports.
- Monitor the Performance: Businesses can see their performance, and if it is not as planned, they can take corrective action to bring progress on track.
- Benchmarking: Businesses use benchmarking for competitive purposes. Here, they compare their performance with the best performer in the industry, find gaps, and improve their performance to gain a competitive advantage.
- Communication: Performance reports are good communication tools. You can communicate the project performance to your stakeholders.
- External Reports: Many regulatory authorities and clients require updates and other necessary information. Performance reports help create these external reports.
- Improve Performance: Status reports provide a clear picture of progress, and stakeholders can make the right decision at the right time, which helps improve performance.
- Transparency: Performance reports provide the correct project status, and stakeholders see what is happening with the project. It provides complete transparency and keeps all stakeholders on the same page.
Types of Performance Reports
Performance reports can be of the following types:
- Status Report: Status reports provide the current status of the project. The information in this report can include actual cost spent, completed work, and earned value from the completed work. This report can also include issues, risks faced by the project, milestones achieved, or any other incidents.
- Progress Report: The progress report provides information on the project’s progress. It compares the actual progress with the planned progress and provides the actual performance to stakeholders. The report can include a schedule performance index, cost performance index, etc.
- Trend Report: The trend report shows which direction the project is heading. This report helps find the project’s recurring issues, and the stakeholders can see how smoothly the project is progressing. The trend report shows project performance over time, and you can see if the performance is improving or degrading. A run chart is mostly used to show the trend report.
- Variance Report: These reports show the variance between planned and actual progress monetarily. Examples are schedule variance and cost variance.
- Forecasting Report: This report shows the forecasting analysis. Here, stakeholders can see the progress and the future outcome if the project progresses with the same performance. Estimate to complete, estimate at completion, and to complete performance index are a few parameters you can include in this report.
How to Create Performance Reports
- Identify the Requirements: Find the requirements for your performance reports. You must know what information and data the report should contain. You should know the audience of the performance reports and their expectations.
- Collect the Work Performance Data: This is the key step. You must collect the status of the project with precise data. The data can include spent funds, complete tasks, the time elapsed, etc.
- Create the Work Performance Information: After collecting the world performance data, create the work performance information. Here, you can compare the planned progress with the actual progress.
- Forecasting: If required, you can go for a forecasting analysis. The forecast report shows the future performance with the current trend.
- Create a Summary: After creating the work performance report, create the executing summary and include the collected and analyzed information briefly so the stakeholders can see the overview of the project performance.
- Create the Final Report: Performance reports should be prepared in the format defined in the communication management plan. The report can be text-based, table-based, graphical, a combination of these, or just a summary. The report can include Burn Down charts, s-curves, bar charts, histograms, tables, run charts, etc.
- Assessment: This is the final section. Here, you can discuss the deviations and explain the future performance issues. It will help you get approval for extra funding or schedule an extension at later stages if required.
Content of Performance Reports
The content of performance reports includes, but is not limited to:
- A percentage of the work completed during the reporting period
- The balance work to be completed
- Costs incurred during the reporting period
- The balance of funds available
- The balance of time available
- Significant risks that have occurred or passed without occurring
- Major remaining identified risks
- Variance analysis (schedule variance and cost variance)
- Performance indexes (schedule performance index and cost performance index)
- The forecasted funds required to complete the remaining work (ETC)
- The forecasted time needed to complete the remaining work
- A summary of major approved change requests during the reporting period.
Performance reports have an important role in project management. These reports inform stakeholders of project performance and make decisions at later stages. Performance reports are helpful in getting stakeholders to buy-in, and the project manager can complete the project with minimal obstruction.
This topic is important from a PMP exam preparation point of view. Please understand it well, as you will see a few questions from this topic on your PMP exam.