Add Client Value by Submitting Quality Reports.
Everyone loves submitting reports for their projects. Or, do they?
Submitting a report is one of those tasks that most will tell you is the most boring part of any project. The other side of that story is that submitting a report is essential to helping our client, boss, or even our team know that we are making progress toward goals and, sometimes even the tasks we’ve completed. Reports serve as a guide for how we talk about the project, both publically and privately. Reports help us demonstrate the success of a project, activity, or initiative.
At S & G Endeavors, project reports are always a part of any collaborative planning project. This tool helps us recap and revisit the outcomes of the project (initiative, committee, idea), summarize the work for each deliverable, and make recommendations and next steps that our clients can use in moving forward with implementation. For us, a great final report can help us when we provide that coaching needed to implement plans a client has created.
At S & G, reporting is just one of our tools we use to increase our collaboration with our clients, and here’s how.
I. Start with the Purpose & Outcomes
Defining the purpose and outcomes are essential to the success of every project, but especially if the project brings people together to take action. The purpose and outcomes are the driving force for the stakeholders involved in the project.
By defining the purpose and outcomes during the contracting process and by revisiting the purpose and outcomes throughout the project, especially during the reporting phase, the purpose and outcomes become the guide to help us ensure that we are meeting the client’s needs and desires for the project.
Remember, purpose is the key to great meeting design, as we discussed on the SGE blog last year. But, if you really want to see an awesome discussion on the how’s and why’s of creating a purpose & outcomes for your project, check out this article from Jake Jacobs, the author of Real Time Strategic Change, also featured on NEXUS4change.org.
II. Summarize the Work of Each Deliverable
A well-defined project will normally have deliverables, goals or actions, which if met, achieve the purpose and outcomes of the project.
When reporting on progress achieved with each deliverable, it is important to provide enough information to demonstrate progress achieved, to highlight opportunities, and to provide other information, that if shared, would help the client really take things to the next level.
Here are the main components that we provide in our summary reports with regard to progress on deliverables:
- Dates – Capture the key dates of meetings, calls, and other conversations from that deliverable.
- Meeting details – Summarize the meetings that have occurred and with whom these meetings were held. Focus on achieved outcomes from conversations and refer to meeting reports and notes that provide more information.
- Meeting costs – Provide the current costs that were spent for this deliverable (if applicable) and indicate whether or not you were over, at, or under budget.
- A list of task updates – List all of the tasks that were accomplished and any updates that the client or responsible reviewer will find helpful. Always remember, link your achievement back to the purpose and outcomes of the project to demonstrate success.
III. Include A List of Recommendations & Next Steps
When facilitating collaborative meetings, we always report out the summaries of small group discussions, as this helps the people in the meeting know where the whole group could move.
Following that logic: Since we’ve just described our progress toward achieving each deliverable, it is now important to report any common themes and key recommendations that will be most helpful to ensuring the client is successful.
When reporting the common themes, be sure to be factual and succinct, be cautious to not report opinions in this section—they are different.
When reporting your recommendations, use succinct language that is going to be helpful to the client, focusing on specific ways to embrace opportunities, overcome challenges, and again, achieve the project’s purpose and outcomes.
Finally, include a list of next steps for you and the client (or boss, colleague, etc.) to follow in order to stay on track. Be sure to include specific dates. meetings, and types of conversations that need to be had. Remember, a great report will influence future contracting or reporting, so use that to your advantage.
By following these three recommendations we’ve discussed in this post, your reports will become tools that help you and your clients demonstrate success. I submit to you that you might see some of these benefits like we have.
- Your client relationships will get stronger, as you will be increasing opportunity for helpful client dialog.
- The client will feel more confident in the work that you are doing.
- Your boss and other team members will look to you as an organized leader on your project.
- Your colleagues will appreciate your effort and want to work with you as a team member.
- Your projects will more consistently achieve action and results.
Try it, and let us know how it works for you.
And, don’t forget that this is just one of the tools that S & G uses to meet our clients’ goals. Be sure to check out our consulting services to see how we can help your organization grow it’s success.