January 16, 2023
min read
Last updated:
September 1, 2023

Spend less time building reports more time managing projects

January 16, 2023
min read
Last updated:
September 1, 2023

Spend less time building reports more time managing projects

Project reporting can be an admin nightmare

Not only are there various reports required, but they are required frequently (many as often as weekly), and they are time consuming to put together, collate, and review. As a project manager, PMO member, or even a workstream lead on a project, reports are a way of life. Despite the hundreds of other tasks you need to do, the reports need to be produced too!

Companies push the “do more with less” mantra so gone are the days of project managers or workstream leads having dedicated admins on projects meaning the task of reporting falls to the individuals themselves. This usually translates to long hours, extra work, and less time to focus on the work that makes the most difference.

Now let’s add a few other things in to the mix about the downside of manual and admin-intensive reporting:

  1. Manual reporting is ‘point in time’. For example, I submit my report on Thursday for a meeting next Tuesday, which means any work that happens from Friday up until the Tuesday meeting itself is not factored in. Then of course Thursday comes along and I do it all over again.
  2. Manual reporting is subjective. It’s the view of the project or stream that the owner wants you to see. A report might come in all Green, with everything showing as on track. We find out 2 weeks down the line that it wasn’t truly so green after all!
  3. Manual reporting relies on everyone to use the same template to make it easy to collate or even sometimes to make sense of. This isn’t too hard except in large organisations or teams, different reporting templates tend to creep in causing unnecessary rework and stress.
  4. Manual reporting distribution usually happens via email which often results in an email chain longer than the River Nile with questions, comments, deflections, excuses, solutions and more. A lot of the information in that email chain then doesn’t get captured anywhere against the project and the audit trail is lost.

Manual reporting costs money

Reporting is inevitable, we know that, but what isn’t is the amount of time spent on it. Preparing reports, editing them, presenting them; this all takes time which has a direct correlation to money!

Let’s make an example; you’re a Project Manager running a medium-sized project. You have 3 workstream leads or other project managers reporting into you about the work they’re running.  

Your reporting cadence for project Steering Committees:

  • Steering Committees are every Wednesday.
  • The Steering Committee pack has to be emailed out to all attendees and stakeholders on Friday of the week prior.
  • As the Project Manager, you need all reports to be sent to you by Thursday 12:00 to allow time for review, questions, updates, collation, and final pack preparation.

Now, let’s assign some hourly rates to understand example project financials.

  • Project Manager (you) = £60/hour
  • Workstream leads/project managers reporting to you = £50/hour

And here is how the reporting cycle plays out in terms of time and money:

Activity Time Money
The 3 workstream leads each prepare their reports 1.5 hours each = 4.5 hours £225
The project manager (you) then has to review, feedback, get clarifications, request changes etc. 1 hour £60
Updates are made by the workstream leads and sent back 1 hour £50
The project manager now collates everything, populates the overall format, sends out to stakeholders etc. 1.5 hours £90

That’s a total of 8 hours effort for this one reporting cycle - the cost of preparing this one report is:

  • Weekly = £425
  • Monthly = £1,700 (assuming 4 meetings per month)
  • Annually = £20,400 (assuming 48 meetings per year only)

This is per project! Now think of the total cost across all projects, all major meeting types that follow this sort of cadence.

How to fix the time and cost sink?

Thankfully, there are things that can be done to make sure that project managers get their time back, and businesses don’t pay massive costs for reports that are out of date the second the meeting is over. The other great news is that the solution is neither time consuming nor overly complicated!

To solve the pain points we’ve seen around time and costs, the best solution comes in the form of Automated Reporting.

By having ppm software that contains all of your project’s data, and enables automated reporting for meetings and stakeholder updates, you can realise many potential benefits.

6 benefits from automated reporting using a true ppm software solution

  1. Time saving – using our example from before, that 8 hour reporting cycle becomes an automated report so it saves 8 hours – ONE FULL WORKING DAY!
  2. Money saving – the associated resource costs that are saved with the time saving.
  3. Standardisation of reporting – this is easy to achieve as it happens through a central solution, where templates are stored and accessed via all. This goes for rolling out of new templates, standards, and reporting processes too.
  4. Faster decision making – as all reports are standardised, repeatable, and therefore easier to consume, decision making can be quicker and more focussed based on the information contained in the reports.
  5. True data - Reporting becomes more objective, as the data is being pulled from live projects, not manually presented at a point in time by a report provider.
  6. Multiple templates and automated reports - you can have different reporting formats, templates, and requirements for different meetings, audiences and purposes. All are as simple as clicking a button!

How to spend less time building reports and more time managing projects

With Fluid is the short answer! Project reports are an important way of keeping key stakeholders and clients updated on project statuses and progress, but the simpler you can make it, the more time you can spend actually managing your projects successfully.

Fluid’s Reporting Export functionality gives you an easy way to automatically extract your project report in various formats. There are several default templates available, but you can also create your own custom templates to save even more time on formatting! Fluid can not only provide project level reporting, but also program and portfolio level reporting, along with dashboards.

How else can Fluid help?

Aside from automated reports already set up to your template requirements, all of which of course help effective project management, Fluid has many great ways to make working life that much easier.

Fluid is an all-in-one solution to all aspects of PPM, designed to boost productivity by minimising admin, aid better decision-making and improve transparency through mature financial tools to ensure projects meet business objectives.

Collaboration is made simple through in-project chats and a handy meeting tool to keep track of all actions, whilst Fluid’s advanced suite of reporting and real-time data provides visibility across the organisation to save time and improve efficiency.

Book a call with us today to learn how we can support your business.

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