Advice & examples for writing good status updates Selena Sol firstname.lastname@example.org http://sg.linkedin.com/pub/eric-tachibana/0/33/b53/ http://www.slideshare.net/selenasol http://www.selenasol.com/selena SUMMARY This guide argues that there are 3 types of events that warrant reporting in a progress report, provides advice, and gives examples of effective update content.EVENT SITUATION ADVICE AVOID UPDATES LIKE THIS.... REFERENCE EXAMPLEBig project A generally Make clear what Pilot environment security The Messaging Component wascompleted acknowledged big business value was and risk reviews requested completed and put into production on chunk or work, or the delivered Assessment of Option A March 20th. This component will allow entire project, was Say what’s next initiated us to feed 100% of the Indonesian finished. Recognize Continued building out Commodities transactions through A meaningful contributors messaging component Straight-Through Processing (STP) milestone was passed. Improved single-sign on leading to faster settlement times A key project risk was module and fewer transaction errors due to mitigated Supporting Korea human error. We’ll be monitoring the The project advanced Reliability Audit production code for the next few to a point where Worked with project team weeks but the team will start turning tangible business and stakeholders to define its focus towards the next Asset Class, value began accruing Project Metrics Equity Derivatives. Thanks to Frank demonstrably (beta Kicked off working group to Miller and Jeph Loeb for high quality launch or minimal define requirements for code and after-hours support during viable product Cloud Operating Platform productionization. released) System X successfully integrated into System YKey meeting Project Steering Do not turn this into Operations IT Since the last report, the Operationsheld Committees meeting minutes, but Design Council met IT Design Council (OPSDC) met twice, Function do communicate: covering 1) APAC Enterprise Governance/Board Architecture proposal, 2) Project Z Meetings Key formal agenda update, and 3) Vendor Q analysis. Design Committees / items With respect to Enterprise Standard Setting Key Statements Architecture, the OPSDC agreed to Bodies / Quality for the record adopt the proposed model (URL to Reviews Key Decisions document) and extend Phase 2 Meetings with Key action items deliverables until June 16th. Meeting external parties minutes including outstanding actions (auditors/regulators) are available at (URL).Syndication I have finished sharing Include an We syndicated ETRS Completed regional syndication ofcompleted a strategy deck with all embedded link to related eBanking target the, “Electronic Transaction Reporting relevant stakeholders the document architecture with IBIT CTO System (ETRS) eBanking Target and am now ready to List 1-3 critical stakeholders Architecture” (URL to document). At a publish it as final syndication high-level, key themes included 1) I made a decision, set messages as part decommissioning of System X, 2) a standard, or defined of the update. procurement of System Y, and 3) a business process and Dont tell us "that" support for Regulatory requirement have finished notifying you syndicated, of 6-factor authentication. all stakeholders. tell us "what" you Syndication was completed for I have made a syndicated Investment Banking Tech (IBIT) significant change to List key stakeholders from the Chief strategic intent, stakeholders Technology Office (CTO). No issues objectives, program impacted, were raised that might derail further goals or scope, or especially if there progress, though it is worth repeating organizational are business that the rollout plan has an structure and have benefits or costs aggressive timeline. Minutes from the meetings are available at (URL).
finished sharing this to them with stakeholders. List key themes/decisions/ changes that came out of any related discussions1. BIG PROJECT COMPLETEDHopefully most of what we do is work on projects that lead to tangible business value. Andwhen we make significant progress against such a project, it is worth shouting about.However, shouting effectively assumes that a meaningful phase of project work was actuallycompleted such as: A generally acknowledged big chunk or work, or the entire project, was finished. A meaningful milestone was passed. A key project risk was mitigated The project advanced to a point where tangible business value began accruing demonstrably (beta launch or minimal viable product released)Whatever the case, the key to a good project update is that it should communicate why thereader, who is usually not in the direct project team, should care. The update should makeclear what business value was delivered. For example, what can now be accomplished as aresult, or how much revenue can be made, or cost avoided, as a result of theaccomplishment, or what risks are now mitigated? If you cannot define what business valuewas delivered, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the project is bad, it’s just that this isprobably not a time to report on it. Wait until it is newsworthy.Also, because the audience of reports tends to include secondary or tertiary stakeholders,who do not attend in-person project meetings, when you describe the event, you need toadd enough detail so that someone, not in the immediate project team, can immediatelyunderstand the relevant context without needing a one-on-one project briefing.Further, it is useful to place the delivery within the larger context. What’s next?Finally, it is worth recognizing folks who made an outstanding contribution to the delivery.Here are some examples of updates that are not newsworthy or updates that arenewsworthy, but not detailed enough: Pilot environment security and risk reviews requested Assessment of Option A initiated Continued building out messaging component Improved single-sign on module Supporting Korea Reliability Audit Worked with project team and stakeholders to define Project Metrics Kicked off working group to define requirements for Cloud Operating Platform System X successfully integrated into System Y
Here are some updates that might be more effective: The Assessment of Option A was completed. Using a rubric that included A, B, and C, the project team determined that Option A was unsuitable given the project requirements. The complete assessment report is available at (URL). The next major project milestone will be to agree on pricing and contractual terms for Option B by August 15th. Thanks to Mickey Mouse for preparing the market research report and meeting deck. The Messaging Component was completed and put into production on March 20 th. This component will allow us to feed 100% of the Indonesian Commodities transactions through Straight-Through Processing (STP) leading to faster settlement times and fewer transaction errors due to human error. We’ll be monitoring the production code for the next few weeks but the team will start turning its focus towards the next Asset Class, Equity Derivatives. Thanks to Frank Miller and Jeph Loeb for high quality code and after-hours support during productionization.2. KEY MEETING HELDCommunicating decisions made as well as making the process of decision-makingtransparent, is critical if you want people to actually own those decisions. There are manytypes of key meetings including: Project steering committees Function governance/board meetings Design Committees / Standard Setting Bodies / Quality Reviews Meetings with external parties (auditors/regulators)While most banter at a meeting will be relevant only to those present, most meetings canbe summarized quickly but effectively: Key formal agenda items Key statements for the record Key decisions Key action itemsIf readers of your report have reason to be interested, but meeting minutes are toodetailed, these things should be communicated in a report within reason.Here is an example of a status update that leaves significant value on the table: Operations IT Design Council metHere is how you might improve it: Since the last report, the Operations IT Design Council (OPSDC) met twice, covering 1) APAC Enterprise Architecture proposal, 2) Project Z update, and 3) Vendor Q analysis. With respect to Enterprise Architecture, the OPSDC agreed to adopt the proposed
model (URL to document) and extend Phase 2 deliverables until June 16 th. Meeting minutes including outstanding actions are available at (URL).3. SYNDICATION COMPLETEDThere are many circumstances in which you want to communicate messages throughout anorganization, and finishing that communication is a key milestone because you will nowmove from Syndication to Operationalization, and you need to mark this state change. Afterthis milestone, there will be no more talking and sharing. It is now time for everyone to beonboard and execute.Examples could include: I have finished sharing a strategy deck with all relevant stakeholders and am now ready to publish it as final I made a decision, set a standard, or defined a business process and have finished notifying all stakeholders. I have made a significant change to strategic intent, objectives, program goals or scope, or organizational structure and have finished sharing this with stakeholders.At the same time, because syndication is usually a dialog, rather than a broadcast, it isimportant to ensure that key statements of record, changes, or compromises that came upduring syndication are communicated as well.Because this is an important milestone, it is appropriate to report. But make sure that all therelevant information is included. For example: Include an embedded link to the document List 1-3 critical syndication messages as part of the update. Dont tell us "that" you syndicated, tell us "what" you syndicated List key stakeholders impacted, especially if there are business benefits or costs to them List key themes/decisions/changes that came out of any related discussionsHere is an example of a status update that leaves significant value on the table: We syndicated ETRS related eBanking target architecture with IBIT CTO stakeholdersHere is how you might improve it: Completed regional syndication of the, “Electronic Transaction Reporting System (ETRS) eBanking Target Architecture” (URL to document). At a high-level, key themes included 1) decommissioning of System X, 2) procurement of System Y, and 3) support for Regulatory requirement of 6-factor authentication. Syndication was completed for Investment Banking Tech (IBIT) stakeholders from the Chief Technology Office (CTO). No issues were raised that might derail further progress, though it is worth repeating that the rollout plan has an aggressive timeline. Minutes from the meetings are available at (URL).
4. APPENDIX: SPELL OUT ACRONYMSAnd remember, always Spell Out Acronyms (SOA).