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August 27, 2009 2522 comments so far

Most Important Reports for Project Controlling?

As you might remember we are currently making major changes to our "Controlling Cycle Option" for Onepoint Project. In order to make sure that these changes are really practical we are closely working together with a number of key customers and partners. One of the questions we are asking is: what are the most important reports that support the project controlling cycle?

Maybe let's start by clarifying what I mean with reports that support the project controlling cycle: I am talking about more or less complex, multi-section reports that you typically print or export as PDF documents in order to hand them to the members of the project steering committee. In other words, these reports need to be "self-sufficient" until a certain degree, because the recipient of the report might not have access to the live project management system. This is something which until now has been missing in Onepoint Project and since the demand for this more formal style of project management is growing tremendously in our customer community, we are going to support this in the next version of Onepoint Project that is due later this year.

The first question we had to ask ourselves, our customers and our partners was: which reports do we really need in the form of standard reports? What are the three or four reports that all our customers need who wants to manage and control projects effectively? The answer was: none. Since not all project organizations are big enough or sufficiently organized in order to implement formal project controlling, not everyone needs project controlling reports. Therefore, we decided to make the reports optional and bundle them with the Controlling Cycle Option (CCO). By making it available together with the CCO we will even provide a smooth upgrade path - even if you do not care about formal project controlling today, you might (or need/want to) change your mind in the not too distant future.

So, revised question: What are the three to four most important standard reports that support formal project controlling? In our opinion and also in that of our customers and partners so far (the feedback round is not completed yet), these are:

  • Project Proposal ("Projektauftrag"). The project proposal is used for two purposes: proposing the project to the steering committee and once the project was decided, it servers as the project "contract" between the steering committee and the project manager
  • Work Instruction ("Arbeitsauftrag"). Work instruction reports are created from the task details in the project management system and handed to the resource who is responsible to implement a task. In matrix organizations it is also used as a communication tool between the project manager and the resource/team managers in order to support the resource allocation process
  • Project Progress ("Projektfortschritt"). The project progress report is typically generated at the "end" of a project controlling cycle after the project's status and progress has been reviewed and documented by the project manager. It shows the project's status and progress to the steering committee. This report is also often called the "Project Status", but we and our customers felt that "Project Progress" is the more modern term
  • Project Close Out ("Projektabschluss"). Finally, the project close out report is generated once the project has been formally completed. Again, it is used to communicate the project outcome to the steering committee and typically contains a summary of the project, often also a section about lessons learned

Well, this is what our outcome is this far. What do you think? Did we come up with the most important standard project controlling reports or did we miss a really important one? Are you eager to see the new reports in Onepoint Project or is this something which is not so important for you? Let me know what you think!