Progress it on company letterhead? Or should

Progress reports can be important documents, both to communicate within an organization and to communicate with clients and others outside an organization. Watch this lesson to find out how to write a progress report.

Progress Reports

Jonah has a big project at work that’s really stressing him out. He has to coordinate several people who are all in charge of part of the project, and he has to make sure that it’s all done on time. And now, his boss has asked him for a progress report. Jonah doesn’t know what to put in the report or how to format it.

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A progress report is a written record of what has been done and what is left to do on a project. That is, it is a report of the progress that has been made on the project, which is why it is aptly named a progress report.Progress reports serve several functions. They can reassure the recipients that progress is being made (or inform them of delays in a project), like Jonah updating his boss on the project at work.

Progress reports can also be used to establish and formalize duties of team members, tie down a work schedule for a project, and discuss possible problems in the project or its timeline.To help Jonah write his progress report, let’s look at the common formats of a progress report and the content, or what he should include in the report.

Types of Formats

Jonah knows he needs to write a progress report for his boss, but he’s not sure how it should look.

Does he need to put it in a binder with a cover? Should he put it on company letterhead? Or should he just jot some notes down in an email?Progress reports can come in many different forms, but there are three primary formats that most people use for their progress reports:

  1. Memo: Often, a short memo is all that is needed for a progress report that is shared within an organization. For example, Jonah’s progress report is going to his boss, and he’ll also give copies to all the project members. Since all of them work at the same company, he might choose to write the progress report as a memo.
  2. Letter or email: Sometimes, instead of a memo, people choose to write progress reports as letters or, more commonly today, emails.

    Like memos, these types of progress reports are generally short. However, unlike memos, letters and emails are reports that can be shared either within or outside of an organization. So if, for example, Jonah needed to share the progress report both with his boss and with his company’s client, he might choose a letter or email.

  3. Formal report: Both memos and emails are pretty informal. But the third common format is a formal report. This is a longer document, and it is often bound in a binder or presentation folder. Formal reports are usually used for progress reports that are shared outside of an organization.

    For example, if Jonah were writing a progress report for the client, he might choose to share in a formal report.

Since Jonah’s progress report is going out to his boss and coworkers, he probably won’t want to format it as a formal report. He could present it as a memo or letter, but Jonah thinks that email is a good format for it. It’s convenient, and everyone can have an electronic copy saved.

Content

Jonah’s happy that he’s chosen the format for his progress report, but he still feels overwhelmed. What information should he include in the report? As with format, progress reports vary slightly in what information is included.However, a good, general structure for a report includes five elements:1. IntroductionIn the introduction, Jonah will want to include a summary of the project and the project goals. If he were writing a formal report for his client, he might go into some detail here, but since it’s an internal report, and he feels confident that everyone understands the project and goals, he will probably make this summary brief, perhaps even just a couple of sentences.

2. Work CompletedThe ‘progress’ in ‘progress report’ is what work has been completed. That is, what progress has been made so far on the project.

Jonah will want to include all the team’s accomplishments so far, to show how much progress they’ve made. He’ll want to make the list specific. For example, he might point out that the color scheme and basic design of the website portion of the project have both been completed.3.

Work in Progress:In addition, Jonah will want to demonstrate that everyone is still working hard on the project. He’ll want to include a list of work items that have been started but not yet finished. For example, he can list the actual coding of the website as something that the programmers are working on now but haven’t finished.

For work in progress, Jonah will want to include approximate dates by which the work will be finished.4. Work to be StartedJonah will want to also make a list of work that the team hasn’t started on, along with the approximate dates the work will be started and finished.

For example, Jonah might point out that, while a lot of progress has been made on the website portion of the project, they haven’t started designing the app that will go along with the website. Jonah might want to include work completed, work in progress, and work to be started in a chart that lists the specific items, which team member or members are assigned to that item, and the date of completion. This is a simple, organized, and highly visual way to share the information.

5. ConclusionFinally, Jonah will want to include an overall appraisal of how things are going, including any problems with the project, along with an approximate date for the entire project to be finished. Again, this can be relatively brief. He could simply write something like, ‘The project continues to progress at our planned pace, and it appears that it will be completed on schedule.

Lesson Summary

A progress report is a written record of what has been done and what is left to do on a project. It can reassure recipients that progress is being made on a project, establish and formalize duties of team members working on the project, tie down a work schedule, and/or discuss possible problems with the project or the timeline.There are three major formats for a progress report:

  1. Memo, which is short and is only used for reports within an organization
  2. Letter or email, which is short and can be used for reports within or outside an organization
  3. Formal report, which is longer and is generally only used for reports shared outside an organization

The five major parts of a progress report are:

  1. The introduction, which includes a summary of the project and the project goals
  2. A list of work that has been completed
  3. A list of work that is in progress
  4. A list of work that has yet to be started
  5. The conclusion, which includes an overall appraisal of how things are going, along with an approximate date for the project to be finished

Recap of Progress Reports

progressreportdocument
Progress report a written record of what has been done and what is left to do on a project
Memo a short memo is often all that is needed for a progress report that is shared within an organization
Letter/email instead of a memo, people write progress reports as letters or emails that can be shared within or outside of an organization
Formal report a longer document often found bound in a binder or presentation folder
Content includes the introduction, work completed, work in progress, work to be started and the conclusion

Learning Outcomes

This lesson is designed to teach you to:

  • Write the definition of a progress report
  • List its different formats
  • Enumerate the five major sections of a progress report
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