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6 essential performance reporting types for online businesses
Think back to the times you had to prepare for an important project. You try to consider each variable, account for every challenge, and think of every task—but plans don’t always go to, well, plan.
Sometimes you have to press pause and figure out how everything has gotten so off course. Or your boss asks for an update (don’t panic). Each time a project goes well, you also need to know how to replicate the magic for future endeavors.
That’s where performance reports can help.
Last updated16 Feb 2023
In good projects and bad, performance reports help you sort through your experiences. This glossary teaches you when to use six different performance reports to analyze and share project progress with your team and stakeholders.
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How to measure progress before, during, and after projects with 6 performance reports
Whether ‘project manager’ is your official title or not, anyone who manages a project benefits from performance reporting. Different types of performance reports focus on unique elements and timelines in a project, but they all help you review projects.
For example, content managers must share whether they’re achieving their goals, like if they hit their quota of new articles or videos per month. Or, designers must understand what makes or breaks a project deadline, like when to send work for stakeholder approval.
Since performance reports analyze upcoming, current, and past project performance, they offer three main benefits:
You have to choose the right performance report for different scenarios to get the most of the review. For example, your C-suite leaders are more interested in project outcomes than small, technical decisions.
Here are six types of performance reports to cater to your project goals and stakeholders:
1. Status report
A status report is a document that compares a current project to its future plan. It’s a snapshot in time of the project focusing on achievements.
Project managers typically prepare status reports for stakeholders—like C-level leadership, investors, or cross-functional teams.
For example, during a quarterly check-in with company leaders, a content manager shares that their team is 50% through the timeline for a new SEO strategy project and have completed 6/9 guides for the quarter.
2. Progress report
A progress report is an ongoing study into the development of a project, usually for the team members involved. It focuses on events and tactical details like progress drivers and anticipated roadblocks.
For example, a content manager shares that they met with the chief marketing officer and got buy-in for a new video initiative the team pitched to educate readers in a new target audience.
3. Trend report
A trend report is a review of metrics and past events you use to anticipate the future of a project. It acknowledges issues that delay or alter progress compared to your intended budget, schedule, or scope.
For example, a content manager shares that videos of product reviews performed better than blog posts and increased sign-ups over the last three months, so they’re making the decision to increase recorded output for the next quarter.
4. Forecast report
A forecast report is a plan that predicts future outcomes or challenges for your project, typically before you start a project.
Building off previous examples, the content manager adjusts blog post turnaround because a team member is out on parental leave.
5. Variance report
A variance report is a review of the differences between your intended and actual project outcomes or processes. Project managers use a variance report after a project to account for budget, schedule, scope, or outcome differences.
For example, a content manager and data analyst work together to determine which key performance indicators (KPIs) they didn’t hit and why. After reviewing the project, they realized that some team members had to pull attention away from the project to work on a new directive from the chief marketing officer.
6. Earned value report
An earned value report (EVR) is a document that combines project progress and impact to gauge how much value your team created at a given time.
For example, if you’re halfway through building a new content initiative that’ll generate $15,000 in revenue, your earned value is $7,500.
Pick the right performance report to make an impact
There’s a performance report for every project scenario, but you’ll learn the most when you pick the right one for the specific job you need to get done, whether that’s ensuring everyone’s on the same page or getting buy-in for a change you want to make.
Dive deeper into the different performance reporting types to understand which you need and learn how to create them: