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Practical Report Writing

Introduction to Practical Report Writing

Practical report writing in project management is one of the most crucial activities within the realm of planning and project control. It serves the purpose of meeting the needs of project stakeholders effectively.

Why is Report Writing so important?

The significance of practical report writing lies in its ability to translate the results of well-organized planning and controlled efforts of all project departments into a tangible form. To say that preparing and delivering the best reports is the most effective means of influencing a project wouldn’t be an exaggeration. While the primary audience for this series of content is project
planning and control experts, it can be equally beneficial for other project management stakeholders.

Project Report Writing – Part One

Static Information: Information in reports can be categorized into several groups. Static information is the data that doesn’t change significantly over the reporting periods.

For instance, it includes:

· Project Name
· Investment Amount
· Project Management
· Project Location
· Project Duration
· Consultants
· Contractors

In this part, we explore the concept of static information in project reporting

Dynamic Numeric Data: Dynamic numeric data in project Report Writing primarily have a statistical aspect and are commonly used in the execution phase of projects. For instance, it includes data such as project volumes, daily progress updates, and the percentage of project completion.

Analytical Dynamic Data: Analytical data is essential, derived through the performance analysis of the project. For example, it encompasses data related to earned value analysis and the analytical utilization of key performance indicators (KPIs).

Low-Value Fill-in Data: These are the least valuable data that should be included in reports. We will discuss the rationale for including such data later.

In the following sections, we will delve into various types of information typically included in daily, weekly, workshop, client, and various other reports. Our aim is to make you more proficient in report writing and analysis. In conclusion, project reporting is intricately linked to the project’s planning and control process. We do not intend to cover every single detail and dimension, as doing so would require teaching project management knowledge from the ground up. This series of articles on “Practical Report Writing” is a concise and straightforward guide to help you organize your knowledge and add some finer points to your skill set.

Practical Project Report Writing – Part Two

Static Information

Static information might not require extensive elaboration, but it’s essential to include it in a complete and well-structured report. This includes project management specifications, which can typically be extracted from contracts, agreements, project charters, and more. These details encompass items such as the project’s formal title, the subject of the contract, start and end dates, initial duration, and any subsequent extension periods, among other pertinent information.

Sometimes, it’s observed that an initial definition of the project and the contractual milestones are provided in this section. You can certainly add more details, and this section offers flexibility for you to tailor the report to the project’s specific needs.

It’s worth noting that practical project reporting begins with static information, and it’s important to categorize and structure the report effectively. Dynamic numeric data, as mentioned earlier, primarily have a statistical aspect and are typically used in the project’s execution phase.

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Dynamic Numeric Data for Report Writing

These data are typically updated in daily reports and are not directly tied to the project schedule. Dynamic numeric data pertain to the quantities of resources, materials, machinery, equipment, and other key variables on-site. Examples include daily progress measurements, project volume, and the percentage of project completion.

Another important aspect to consider is that if any dynamic numeric data items that need to be tracked over time, such as workforce deployment, need to be included in weekly and monthly reports, it’s essential to include them in the daily reports as well. However, some data, such as weather conditions, might only be crucial in daily reports and may not carry the same significance in monthly reports.

Weather Conditions: Information related to weather conditions holds significant importance in construction and other project types. These details should be included in daily reports, as weather can have a substantial impact on project progress.

Relevant weather data include the minimum and maximum daily temperatures, precipitation (rainfall, snowfall), whether the day was sunny or cloudy, humidity levels, and more. Some reports go even further by providing a seven-day weather forecast, which can be helpful for the technical team in planning activities like concrete pouring. You can choose to present weather conditions in the report as a narrative or using charts and graphs for better visualization.

In tables and weather status charts, you can even utilize conditional formatting to make it easier for the readers to grasp the information. The key is to keep the presentation of weather conditions clear and easy to understand for your audience.

In summary of Report Writing

weather conditions are essential information in daily reports. A comprehensive practical project report can encompass a wide range of weather-related data:

· Minimum temperature
· Maximum temperature
· Sunny, rainy, snowy days
· Seven-day weather forecast
· Number of sunny days
· Number of rainy days
· Number of snowy days
· Average temperature during the reporting period
· And more

You can add more data points if necessary to provide a complete picture of the weather’s impact on the project.

Practical Project Report Writing in Project Control – Part Three

In this section, we will continue to discuss dynamic numeric data in project reporting. So far, we’ve looked at weather data and human resource data in your reports. Now, let’s delve into other types of dynamic numeric data, including statistics on input materials and project photos.

Human Resource Data:

In some projects, especially in the private sector where effective human resource management and costs are critical, it’s essential to track the number of human resources deployed. The number of workers on-site, their skills, and responsibilities are vital aspects of project management. Stakeholders expect to see these details in project reports.
There are several ways to categorize human resource data. Typically, human resources are categorized based on their skills, responsibilities, direct and indirect labor, and even educational backgrounds. However, in many reports, presenting a total count and a general breakdown is sufficient. Ensure that you include this human resource information in your project’s database.

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Database related to collecting human resource information

Both weather data and human resource data have been discussed. However, the presentation of this information in tabular form in your reports is not the most effective method. Generally, human resource data is displayed graphically, similar to weather data, to illustrate daily variations more effectively.

For instance, you can use graphs like the one below:

Advanced techniques for presenting human resource data in Excel reports will be discussed in future sections. Another type of crucial data in reports relates to statistics on input materials used in the project. The benefit of this data is that it helps capture the diversity of materials used in construction projects, such as concrete, rebar, iron beams, pipes, etc. This kind of information is essential because it varies from one project to another.

An example of a data collection format for input materials is provided below:

Never present this data as a simple list of values. The reason is that such presentations are neither reader-friendly nor informative. Typically, this kind of data is best represented graphically, and the cumulative material input compared to initial estimates should be clearly shown. This provides an excellent visual representation of progress.

It’s a good practice in construction and executive projects to include several project photos in your reports. This is especially valuable for stakeholders who may not have direct access to the project site. However, do not overwhelm your reports with too many photos.

Here are some considerations for including photos in your practical project Report Writing

· Whenever possible, use colored photos for printing.
· Include descriptions for each photo. These descriptions help establish a connection between the image and its relevance to the project.
· Providing a site map in conjunction with photos can be very beneficial. It helps identify the location within the project site that each photo represents.

In the next section, we’ll dive into the specifics of handling statistical data in project reports, which is another essential aspect of project control.

Practical Project Report Writing in Projects – Part Four

In this fourth part of our series on practical project reporting in project control, we’ll focus on statistical data. Statistical data is among the most critical types of information for analyzing, managing, monitoring, and reporting on a project. Some of the key statistical data that you need to include in your reports are related to physical progress, financial progress, and earned value analysis.

Physical Progress: To report the physical progress of a project, you need to extract it from the project’s schedule or program. This progress should be based on the schedule and should reflect the planned milestones and activities. A progress baseline should be established and recorded in an Excel sheet. You should also maintain another row for actual progress data. Be careful not to mix actual progress with recovery schedule progress, as this can lead to incorrect delay analysis.

One useful way to present physical progress is through graphs

In this graph, green indicates ahead of schedule, and red indicates behind schedule. Various techniques can be used to visualize progress, and this topic is extensively covered in planning and scheduling courses. However, the representation shown above is sufficient for creating reports and analyzing progress.

Financial Progress: To report financial progress effectively, it’s essential to input financial information from the beginning into your project schedule. You should include the cost for each control point in your schedule. This cost information is typically extracted from the contract. Proper communication and collaboration between the project control and financial units are crucial for effective financial management.

Once you have cost data, you can display financial progress through various methods. You can show cash flow, including the planned and actual values, over time. This can help you track and analyze the financial health of your project.

Here’s an example of a financial progress graph:

In this graph, the blue line represents the planned cost, the orange line represents the actual cost, and the green line indicates the earned value. The shaded area indicates the variance between the earned value and the actual cost. This gives you a visual representation of how your project is performing financially.

Earned Value Analysis: Earned Value Analysis (EVA) is a method that helps you evaluate the performance of your project in terms of cost and schedule. By comparing the planned value (PV), earned value (EV), and actual cost (AC), you can assess the project’s status.

Here are the key terms in EVA:

· Planned Value (PV): The value of the work that was planned to be completed by a specific point in time.
· Earned Value (EV): The value of the work that has actually been completed by that same point in time.
· Actual Cost (AC): The cost incurred for the work performed by that point in time.

These values help you calculate critical EVA metrics such as Cost Performance Index (CPI) and Schedule Performance Index (SPI). These indices provide valuable insights into your project’s efficiency and progress.

In the upcoming series, we’ll explore practical applications of project data related to project delays. These data will provide insights into the causes and effects of project delays, allowing for more effective project management and control.

Practical Report Writing in Project Management – Part Five

In the previous sections, we have covered various aspects of practical report writing in project management, including different types of static and dynamic numerical data, dynamic data related to weather, machinery, human resources, as well as valuable statistical information regarding physical and financial progress. In this section, we explore an essential aspect of project management, which is the analysis of project delays.

Understanding Project Delays:

Project delays, in relation to the baseline schedule and their impact on the critical path, are of paramount importance. Accurate analysis of delays on the critical path requires precise and realistic scheduling relationships. In simpler terms, you need to have a genuine critical path and a schedule that aligns with reality. It’s vital to understand that drawing conclusions about delays or accelerations cannot rely solely on the percentage variance between planned and actual progress.

For example, if the planned progress of the entire project is 5%, and the actual progress is 15%, this doesn’t necessarily indicate favorable conditions. To draw meaningful insights, the critical path and different project phases such as engineering, procurement, construction, and others should be examined individually.

Sample Progress Reports:

Here are a few examples of standard progress reports that project stakeholders should complete:

1. Gantt Chart: This visual representation illustrates the project schedule and its progress over time. It helps in tracking project tasks and identifying delays.
2. Resource Allocation Chart: This chart depicts how project resources are allocated, ensuring that you have the right resources at the right time, thus minimizing delays.
3. Cost and Budget Analysis: A financial analysis report provides insights into the project’s financial health, helping you make decisions to manage costs effectively and prevent budget overruns.

These reports serve as valuable tools for project managers and stakeholders to monitor and control project progress, allocate resources efficiently, and manage finances effectively.
In the upcoming sections, we will explore more practical data and insights related to project management, including strategies to mitigate delays and ensure project success. Please let us know if you have specific topics or additional details you’d like to include in this report.

For example, if the planned progress for the entire project is 5%, and the actual progress is 15%, this doesn’t necessarily indicate favorable conditions. Instead, a more detailed analysis is needed, focusing on the critical path and specific project phases such as engineering, procurement, construction, and more.

Displaying Project Delays:

Project delays relative to the initial schedule can be displayed using various types of charts and diagrams.

Another type of statistical data that is often included in reports is the graphical display of a project’s timeline. A project timeline is a simple chart that displays important dates, including:

· Project start date
· Project end date
· Scheduled start and end dates for project engineering
· Scheduled start and end dates for project procurement
· Land delivery date, and more

The representation method is similar to the sample below:

In the next sections, we will continue to explore various aspects of practical data analysis and reporting in project management. We can delve deeper into specific topics or provide more details as per your requirements. Feel free to let us know how you’d like to proceed or if there are any particular aspects you’d like to focus on.

List of Problems and Solutions:

Another type of analytical information involves listing problems and presenting their solutions. This information can serve the dual purpose of problem resolution and providing documentation for claims or disputes. It is crucial to note that when presenting problems and their solutions, consultation and discussion with engineering management, procurement management, site supervisors, technical offices, and most importantly, project management, are essential.

Documenting issues in this way can save time and costs in favor of the project. Finally, make sure to address critical activities.

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Critical Activities:

It is advisable to list critical activities in three separate categories:

engineering, procurement, and construction. Ensure that the critical path is logical, and if any parts appear incorrect due to wrong relationships, they should be corrected.

Additionally, it’s important to assess the challenges ahead on the critical path and providesolutions to overcome obstacles.

Author: Arash Beyazian Serkandi & Hamid Hoseinnasab

Eizat Alhayat Project management Services

Topic: Introduction to Practical Report Writing