Project reporting is a necessary evil when it comes to project management. It gives project stakeholders an insight into how the project is going, plus it gives the project manager an understanding of the granular progress. A RAG status is a pretty common reporting method when it comes to project management.
What is a RAG status?
A RAG status is a traffic light system to understand how a project is performing.
R is for Red, indicating that an area of the project has a big halt somewhere and it’s impacting the rest of the project too.
A is for Amber, indicating that there’s a potential cause for concern and it needs to be closely monitored.
G is for Green which is basically great! Everything’s on the right track, doing exactly as it was planned.
What RAG status level is your project?
An overall project RAG status depends on all the components within the project because they all feed into the overall project status.
When it comes to reporting your RAG status, there should be some guidance in place for what red, amber or green look like for your organisation. If an organisational standard doesn’t exist, make sure you stay consistent across all project reporting, so you understand what the trigger is between green vs amber, amber vs red.
Amber statuses tend to have more room for ambiguity which can leave project managers unsure of what fits into this category so having that consistent reporting is crucial to truly understanding the progress of a project. Although a red or green status level might seem pretty obvious to decide on, there are a number of things you need to take into consideration.
How to decide your RAG status level
You need to understand your tolerance level – the boundary that you’re allowed to stretch to before a green becomes and amber, and so on. Outlining your tolerances (if your organisation doesn’t already have them decided) at the start of a project removes the ambiguity that can occur later so you’re reporting through fact rather than feeling. Below are some examples of what some tolerances might look like for the different components of a project.
Green would be if you’re not overspending, however what if you ‘overspend’ by £10? Does this mark your financials down as amber? Setting a percentage level to what is classified as an overspend will help you distinguish what is being categorised as in budget (green) or not.
If you’re setting the tolerances for your organisation, remember not to set a blanket financial tolerance percentage to cover all your projects. That 10% might be okay for a project in its early thousands, less so when you’re talking hundreds of thousands!
Will your RAG status for timing be based on the current deliverables, the go-live date, the agreed project closure date? Whatever you agree on, just make sure you’re consistent going forward so your project reporting isn’t skewed.
Benefits and Risks
This can be a tricky one to report on because it can very easily come down to what each individual constitutes as a risk/benefit, and they can argue their case. Setting some clear tolerances based on what that risk might impact and how quickly can be the basis for your RAG status project reporting.
It’s important to distinguish whether the resources you’re reporting on are the financial implications of the resources or the time constraints of them. Again, there is no right or wrong but understanding what RAG status level is appropriate would be based on that. Some tolerances that you might set for resourcing would be on the immediacy of the issue, i.e., if you’re anticipating an issue with 2 or more resources within the next month, amber it is. On the other hand, if you have an issue with even 1 resource now, it’s a red.
Overall Project Health
It’s key that you’re honest about all the components of a project as they do impact the overall project health. After all, no-one wants a ‘Watermelon status’ (green on the surface, but all red once you get inside!). Tolerances that you would want to decide on this would be how many components need to be amber for the overall project reporting status to be amber? If you have tolerances for amber, should one red status change the overall status to red?
However you decide to set your tolerances for RAG status reporting, just remember consistency is key, even if it means having to report amber or red!
PPM software and project reporting
PPM software can either make reporting a nightmare or easy (as it’s supposed to!). Luckily, Fluid does the latter and is an easy and intuitive platform designed to make your life easier.
Fluid has advanced reporting functionality that helps produce easily digestible project reports which can be extracted in company branded templates, ready to be distributed for your project update meetings. With all your project component information being housed in all-in-one PPM software, it’s simple to collate all the information you need to understand the true progress of your project. Promoting transparency and visibility, all project data is real-time making sure you have an accurate picture or project progress, and to ensure you’re reporting with data that isn’t already outdated.