Arrgghhh!!! It’s one of those days! Status reports; we all hate doing them, or at least I’ve met enough people that dislike them it feels like everyone hates them. They have to be created and submitted an inopportune times and get in the way of the job we’re trying to accomplish. However, they are a key tool to communicate what you’re doing; the accomplishments (often overlooked), the current ‘lay-of-the-land’, the risks and issues and where you might be needed assistance from Sr. Mgmt to keep things on track. In BCM/DR it can become a big pain in the ol’…well, you know. This can be because BCM/DR often gets pushed to the backburner so why do a status report to detail activities on something no one really pays attention to anyway, right? Many of the status report being used by organizations are so completely out of touch with reality, they are mostly thought of as negative and nothing but a burden, especially for those that have to populate them week after week. Here’s just a small list of common complaints about status reports.
- Too complex and difficult to use.
- It recreates the project/program schedule captured in other locations (including duplication documents/locations/applications for risk and issue management).
- They contain so much information that it’s well know that no one actually reads them.
- The rigour and governance around the status report is firmer than the rigour around the project you’re working on (including BCM/DR initiatives)
- It never gets in front of the right people; those that can actually help you if you have an issue that needs assistance.
- It only reflects a specific moment in time, which gets reviewed (maybe) a week or two later when situations are no longer the same as the report.
- People providing feedback – those that make sure you did things right – don’t have actual project mgmt experience or even experience in the industry you’re working in . They know things from the textbook point of view but nothing from the ‘real world’ or practical experience.
- Duplication within the status report…and then you have the duplication noted in the point above.
- Has the feel of a make-work initiative rather than adding value to what you’re doing – or adding value to anyone else.
But they aren’t all bad; there is some good in these report and they can offer allot of assistance and exposure in places you might not normally deal with. If BCM/DR uses the status report correctly – and follows sound practices and guidelines – the status can provide allot of benefits, which if leveraged correctly, can make the small administrative stuff seem trivial.
- Identifies to management key risks and issues that they need to contribute to.
- Communicates success to Sr. Mgmt that might normally know of the things that well – but certainly seem to know what hasn’t gone well.
- Recognition for the team and the amount of time they are putting in towards the initiative.
- Gives insight into the details of the project that many may not normally know – or understand.
- Provides a clear picture of what is actually occurring, rather than what people believe is occurring.
- Identifies areas where you may need additional help, such as a new resource because you’re understaffed (which might be causing allot of the issues you’re encountering)
- Helps keeps things in perspective for Mgmt who can offer advice on what to keep doing – and what not to (Scope Mgmt)
- Helps identify decisions that need to be made, which can be logged and referenced later when someone either forgets the decision or tries to lead you astray.
So, what can you do about the status report? Don’t stand around mumblin’ and grumblin’ about it, go talk to the people that put it together. They may not know that they’re creating duplication of effort or that the information they are seeking is kept in real time, someplace else. If people don’t understand how they might be contributing to the cause of problems and the frustration that causes, they’ll just keep asking for the same information over and over again. But don’t go into it blindly. Make sure you have some real solid ideas to present. To do that, ensure you understand their expectations, as there may be things expected you didn’t realize. This goes not only for Project Management Offices (PMO) that might be looking for these status reports but understand the expectations of those that receive the status reports (e.g. Sr. Mgmt). If expectations are understood then it’ll be easier to come to a combined report that makes it easier to use and easier to capture the attention of the manager who receives it.
In BCM/DR we tend to just get the ball rolling with the BIA or Risk Assessment and don’t communicate anything until we’ve completed these initiatives but it’s a good idea to report on your progress and give insight into what you’re doing – and where you’re going. In the end the status report will help educate management – as very few know as much about BCM/DR as you do – and that can help with buy in and maintaining support for the program.
© StoneRoad 2015
A.Alex Fullick has over 18 years’ experience working in Business Continuity and is the author of numerous books, including “Heads in the Sand” and “BIA: Building the Foundation for a Strong Business Continuity Program.”