For the consummate professional on top of their game, information is everything. Making decisions, mitigating losses, reallocating resources — all of it requires quality data, analysis, and reporting on project performance.
While this may seem obvious to some, there’s always room for improvement in the realm of accurate data collection and reporting.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to create efficient and accurate performance reports, help you learn why they’re so important in project management, and explain how to use them to make the right decisions.
We’ll also show you how to create quality performance reports quickly and easily on monday.com. But first, let’s explain the concept of performance reporting.
What is performance reporting?
A performance report is a document illustrating the performance measurements of a project. Through data and analysis, teams establish whether or not they’re achieving their established goals and objectives. Creating performance reports requires the collection of detailed information about project cash flow, resources, and progress. Based on the numbers, management and stakeholders have an accurate high-level overview of the project’s progress, which translates into better decisions and better business performance.
Performance reporting not only helps teams spot and avoid roadblocks — it helps them identify opportunities for improvement.
All stakeholders involved should have access to performance reports. And depending on the depth and duration of the project, producing performance reports frequently may be necessary.
“Performance reporting” is a part of our Project Management Glossary — check out the full list of terms and definitions!
The benefits of performance reporting and why it’s important
Apart from the obvious benefits, performance reporting provides other advantages. Here are a few of the reasons why keeping tabs on project performance is so important:
Improves communication between team members
Performance reports can help project managers and team leads map the strengths and weaknesses in team performance and provide important feedback. This keeps the team’s expectations aligned and focused on collective solutions for the project’s success. When you share performance report results results with your team, communication flows more easily and transparently, and you can define the next steps with more confidence.
Compares your performance with competing companies
Comparing your team’s performance with others in the same industry is a valuable heuristic that can help gauge project success. This practice, known as benchmarking, is necessary to stay competitive. Using the performance reports of other teams as a reference, you can identify your own team’s market position, identify gaps, and replicate or exceed best practices in your business.
Helps to prepare external reports and attracts investmentGreat performance reports aren’t just for internal use — they’re excellent tools for informing clients, partners, and even potential investors.
Other companies are subject to regulations and compliance and are required to provide information to keep projects rolling. Performance reports are excellent documents to help meet these demands.
Performance reporting: what does it look like?
Performance reporting focuses on different objectives depending on the project, team, and business. As a result, reports are produced in a variety of ways; however, most of them tend to explore these common elements:
- Past performance analysis: This is data that helps measure whether the project’s performance is above or below expectations.
- Work performance: This metric involves data on costs incurred and the balance of resources available so far in the project. The analysis demonstrates whether work performance is aligned with what was established in the scheduling stage.
- Approved changes: Keeping track of unexpected changes in project development is an important part of performance reporting. These reports should indicate these changes and why they were implemented.
- Project forecasts: Performance report forecasts synthesize data on the costs and resources available and compare them to what’s required for project success.
- Project completion: These reports outline the final steps of project completion, taking into account any corrections, team performance, and the time required to complete the rest of the tasks.
- Risk mapping: Data from a risk management plan provide valuable insights that can help teams identify roadblocks and determine the necessary measures to avoid them.
In addition to these key points, quality performance reports address specific project information, which helps managers and team members complete tasks and activities more effectively. As mentioned, there are many types of performance reports that serve a variety of purposes.
Types of performance reports
With the basics of performance reporting established, let’s break down in more detail the types of performance reports and how to use them.
A status report is an overview of the project over a specific period. In this scope, it’s important to provide accurate financial statements regarding costs across this time measurement. Status reports also include milestones reached, any incidents that occurred, and the remaining available resources. These reports help project managers make a performance measurement, which indicates how well the project is progressing, if teams are hitting deadlines, and if there are any imminent risks. It also includes work performance information from the team. As a highly detailed overview of the project, the status report is one of the most used performance reports.
A trend report is an important tool that analyzes the performance of a project. It measures past performance up to the point the report is created. Trend reports can demonstrate whether a project is staying on track and meeting expectations. Trend reports are especially important for lengthy projects, where it’s necessary to evaluate metrics across months, quarters, or even years. This helps the team identify frequent patterns and errors.
The progress report is often used to make comparisons and measurements of performance during the various stages of a project. Given its purpose, it’s often applied several times during a project life cycle. The model helps compare the progress made so far with the progress that was expected during project planning. Through schedule, cost, and work performance analysis, the progress report provides a more assertive measure of what’s working in terms of team productivity and what needs to change or be re-evaluated.
This report focuses on forecasts for milestones at all project stages. In short, it analyzes team performance and establishes goals and objectives stakeholders hope to achieve throughout the project’s life cycle.
For example, if the company’s goal is to increase productivity by 20% during a given period, but the actual number was lower, then the initial forecast was inaccurate. Rather than indicating failure, this helps project managers identify inconsistencies and allocate resources to keep the project on track.
A variance report compares the actual performance of the project with what was estimated in the project plan. It’s typically based on business variables, such as schedule and budget. In practice, it works like this: the estimated cost described in the project plan is compared with what was spent up to the present moment. It also compares the timeline of each stage in the plan with the time frame in which they were actually completed. In comparing the real with the simulated, it’s possible to identify important variations that require a reallocation of resources or a realignment of expectations.
Earned value report
When projects run over budget, a value report can help determine the true impact of the excess costs. With the help of data from status reports, earned value reports calculate the performance index of the project, taking into account the estimated value in the project plan, the actual cost of each phase of the project, and the value gained so far.
As we’ve seen so far, performance reporting is a valuable tool in achieving project success. Accurate performance reporting provides more control at all stages of a project, helping project managers and stakeholders make decisions with confidence.
Luckily for you, there’s no need to pore over numbers for hours or take deep dives into spreadsheets. When you manage your projects on monday.com, every KPI and metric you could possibly imagine is tracked and saved. Better still, with dozens of templates, you can follow your project’s progress in real-time with a few clicks.
How to track performance with monday.com
With basic reporting capabilities, monday.com can help you track and manage budgets, visualize project data with detailed dashboards, and share reports with teams, clients, and partners. For the data-obsessed project managers, monday.com has advanced reporting capabilities provide pivot boards, benchmarking, and performance tracking down to the smallest detail. As a tiny sample of monday.com’s reporting powers, check out this customizable Status Report Template and see how much of an impact powerful performance reporting makes on your projects.
Frequently asked questions
If you want to learn a little more about performance reporting, check out these answers to frequently asked questions on the subject.
What is a performance reporting system?
Manually producing accurate performance reports throughout a project’s life cycle often requires expertise in data analysis. Project management software with powerful performance reporting capabilities is an alternative that facilitates the process of collecting data, indicators, and metrics, and helps teams continuously monitor and improve performance.
How can I organize my performance report?
While there are several ways to format a performance report, following these basic steps provides you with a solid template:
- Introduction: Objectives of the report and who its target audience is
- Development: Topics and paragraphs with the most important numbers and results
- Analysis: A section analyzing project performance
- Perspective: A section indicating the next steps of the project
- Proposal: A section indicating possible solutions for failures found or improvements of the indices
Keep teams and projects on track with performance reporting
More than exposing numbers and graphs, performance reports are invaluable for project managers seeking quantifiable business insights. It’s not enough to collect data — it’s necessary to read, interpret, and translate it into valuable information. A performance report has served its purpose if it helps a team improve performance, stay within budget, and deliver tasks on time.