What to Include in Your Project Report: A Project Manager’s Guide to Writing Reports for Construction Projects

Cherie Gozon
Cherie Gozon
January 1, 2024

Creating a project report can be tedious for project managers in the construction industry, especially when working with critical project decision making information. A detailed projectreport helps ensure the successful completion of the capital projects in all aspects, including the timeline, budget, and quality standards.  

A project report provides a comprehensive overview of the project's status, highlighting key performance indicators (KPIs) that help everyone involved in the project to track its progress, assess potential risks and opportunities compared to what was planned, and make informed decisions along the way to keep the project on track.

However, writing a project report can totally suck!. It takes time, and need to gather all necessary data from teams, systems or stakeholders before you can get things started. Isn't it easier if there is a project report template? It is! 😁and we will walk you through that in this article.

A project manager sitting at a desk with hands on a laptop that is open atop a white desk

Project Report Template

No 'perfect' template or format exists for writing a project's report. Any template will need to be 'massaged' depending on who you are writing the report for (audience) or who will read it. Knowing your target audience alone can make an enormous difference in how you write an effective project report.

The key 🔑 to writing an effective project report is to include vital details about the project's progress and not overdo it. Writing too many words can be counterproductive and too much for stakeholders to read. It is always best to write concisely - straight to the point without missing any detail.

Whether you are about to write one from scratch or have an existing template you want to improve, this article will discuss the key elements to include in your project report, what they should contain, and the key details you need to discuss on each item.

This will be applicable for all types of capital project reports no mater where you are in the world. Reports like PCG Report, PCG Meeting Reports, Monthly Report, Quarterly Reports, Dashboard Reports, will all need these same inclusions.

What to Include in Your Project Report

Project Details

The first section of your report is the Project Details, which includes

  • project's name
  • code, or number (if applicable)
  • report series number (e.g. project report #10)
  • report's publishing date
  • your name as project manager
  • the start date and expected end date
  • the customer or client's name
  • other related information about their company.  

All these ensure that all project information and records are accurate, which is necessary for compliance. These details are essential to identify the document you and the rest of the team are reading. It is handy to have this information on top of the document to quickly sort out which document is which, especially when opening multiple reports.  

Project Overview or Executive Summary

The Project Overview, also called the Executive Summary, should contain a concise, high-level summary of the project, such as:

  • goals
  • objectives
  • critical aspects
  • introduction to the rest of the report.  

A compelling project overview should give the reader an idea of what to expect to read in the report and what it contains without giving too many specific details to avoid redundancy in the entire report.

Project Scope

A Project Scope details the boundaries and expectations or what is included and excluded from the construction project deliverables.  

As a project manager, it is crucial to communicate this information to your stakeholders to ensure that they have a clear understanding of what is included and excluded in the project scope. This helps manage their expectations and prevents any misunderstandings or disagreements arising due to assumptions beyond the agreed scope.

In your project report, you can present:

  • your progress on the project towards a key milestone
  • compare progress to the baseline
  • your completed deliverables
  • changes made to the scope.
  • identify any unapproved additions (e.g. scope creep)
  • propose ways to manage or solve them.

The Project Scope should be updated monthly, especially when there are significant changes, so you and the stakeholders can assess whether the project is on track.

Report Dashboard  

It is always great to add a visual representation of something, especially when it involves a lot of words and numbers. That is the purpose of a Report Dashboard: a concise takeaway document of giving critical information upfront. Imagine a TLDR on one page that someone could put in their pocked!

A Report Dashboard could be any shape or form as long as it is the best one to represent the data needed in the report. This includes

  • charts
  • graphs
  • maps
  • tables
  • brief text summaries

Report dashboards, especially a one page project report, can improve transparency, efficiency, communication, and decision-making within the team and the stakeholders since they help create a concrete picture of all the data discussed in the report.

While some might find this an additional load to a project manager's job, it is easier to generate the dashboard with the help of tools or software that can convert data into any visual representation they like. Investing in these reporting tools and software is worth it for project managers and if you need help on how to arrange it or some tips for your project report dashboard, check out our blog: 10 Tips for the Best Project Status Report.

A screenshot of a software showing a dashboard with charts, tables and visualizations including donut charts and bar charts for a construction project portfolioa
An example Project Dashboard generated by Mastt

Review of KPIs

A project's Key Performance Indicators are the very measurement of its progress and success. The KPIs set at the beginning of the project anchor the project in terms of budget, schedule, resources, and overall plan. Monitoring, updating, and reviewing the KPIs of the construction project in your project report shows the trend in the project and helps you see whether things are going in the right direction. Expect the numbers (or the charts) to occasionally go up and down (like the stock market), which aids in quick decision-making moving forward. Try to include things like:

  • Schedule Progress vs Plan: Difference between planned and actual progress in project timeline.
  • Cost vs Budget: Difference between budget and actual project costs.
  • Planned Value (PV): Budgeted cost of work scheduled.
  • Earned Value (EV): Budgeted cost of work performed.
  • Actual Cost (AC): Actual costs incurred for completed work.
  • Cost Performance Index (CPI): Ratio of earned value to actual costs, indicating cost efficiency.
  • Schedule Performance Index (SPI): Ratio of earned value to planned value, indicating schedule efficiency.
  • Scope vs Plan: e.g. things like number of change orders issued during the project.
  • Safety Incidents: Number of safety incidents or near misses reported.
  • Cash Flow: Net cash inflow or outflow over a specific period.

This is the heart of your report's tracking, so make sure you do not miss any detail and you may consider having these as sub-sections with commentary. In a separate section below, we will discuss several ofthese in more detail and what these KPIs should look like in your report.

Health and Safety

Construction projects are risky and life is important. It takes a lot to convince the stakeholders that the project is in the right hands—meaning there are little to no incidents. The Health and Safety report should cover all that information. As a project manager, adding this section to your report shows your dedication and commitment to ensuring a safe and healthy working environment for all personnel working on the construction project.

This part of the report should include at least:

  • Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR): Number of recordable incidents per 200,000 hours worked.
  • Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR): Number of lost-time injuries per million hours worked.
  • Severity Rate: Average time lost per lost-time injury.
  • Near Miss Frequency Rate: Number of near misses reported per 200,000 hours worked.

It is also good to add how you ensure the safety of your personnel, like any safety activities and drills, training and workshops, inspections and observations, and other initiatives you have taken. These initiatives may include safety materials and equipment and overall emergency preparedness.

Risk and Opportunity Assessment  

The Risk and Opportunity Assessment summarises identified factors that may affect the project positively (opportunity) or negatively (risk). This allows the management to evaluate the situation, mitigate potential threats of the identified risks, and maximize the potential benefits of the opportunities presented. This assessment also helps create action plans, especially those that need urgent action. It does not only help in enhancing project control but also improves how project management will make decisions moving forward and improve the overall project outcome.

Creating a risk and opportunity assessment in the report also requires updating the risk and opportunity registers. We recommend attaching to the project report your risk registers, and including a short summary table of high or key risks in the body of the report.

Community Engagement & Stakeholder Communications

If you project interacts with the community, you can include Community Engagement and Stakeholder Communications section in your report to ensure your construction project fosters a positive relationship with its surrounding community.

Community Engagement should highlight:

  • your efforts and other initiatives in informing the neighboring community about the upcoming project
  • the projects impact on them
  • community feedback, especially if they have major concerns.
  • any work done at council meetings, bulletins, letter drops, posting on the community paper, and the like.

The goal of Community Engagement is to foster trust and understanding, minimize disruptions, and maximize benefits for the community.

Your report must include all your efforts and a thorough update of what the community thinks about your project being in their neighborhood. As mentioned, they may have any concerns and input that can be valuable to present to the stakeholders, especially if it will also affect the construction project. On the other hand, Stakeholder Communications provides updates on any interaction with stakeholders about the project. A project’s stakeholders include any key persons or organizations with a buy-in on the construction project. Thus, any input, including design input and approvals.

Other Information to Include in Your Monthly Report

In some instances, there is a need to include additional information or parts in your monthly report, such as:

  • Table of Contents: Add a Table of Contents to direct your reader immediately to the parts they want to refer to. Stakeholders and Executive Managers may not have all the time to browse every little detail in the report, and the Table of Contents can make it easier for them to get to the points they deem important to know. It also helps everyone direct themselves to specific points when they need to review something without scanning all the pages.
  • Report Guidelines: These remind you and whoever handles the document how to write your report. This could include content, formatting, and the overall tone and voice of the entire report. The report guidelines also make it easy to transition from one project manager to another in case they need it.
  • Appendices: Any of any detailed data and tables discussed in the report, supporting documents, glossaries, definitions of jargon used in the report, and other technical information that the reader can refer to.

A project manager conducting a meeting presenting the project report.

Important Project KPIs on Your Monthly Report

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are vital to the project in providing quantifiable metrics to measure its progress regarding parameters and goals.  

It is imperative to include KPIs in your report to provide transparency and accountability in the project's progress and provide critical insights for improved decision-making among the managers and stakeholders.

Each project may have different KPIs. However, there are four project KPIs common among construction projects and are essential in understanding the overall project progress.

Schedule Progress vs. Plan

Illustrating the progress (towards a milestone, completed deliverables, or both) versus the baseline schedule helps everyone involved evaluate if the project will finish on time or be behind schedule.

Cost vs. Budget

Like the timeline, a comparison between the project's planned budget versus the forecast final cost. It clearly shows whether there is enough wiggle room for future scope or cost to be added or to take a cut when the project goes over budget.

When the team knows how the project is financially, they can make more precise, informed decisions on which aspects can be adjusted cost-wise.  

Scope vs. Plan

A project's plan is a blueprint for handling all aspects of the project: time, budget, resources, and others. However, like most plans, these can change as the project progresses.

Adding this part to your monthly report helps visualise how much has changed in the project scope since it started. It is also important to note how it evolved or what changes were made so it will be easier to set expectations in the next phase and how to manage all resources moving forward.

Planned vs. Actual Resourcing

Lastly, your report should show the projected resources needed for the project and compare it to the actual resourcing at its current phase when applicable.

This is recommended for those project managers or contractors dealing with resourcing.

Seeing the actual numbers of resources (materials, equipment, time, and labour) can help reallocate them in case of over or under-allocation.

All these KPIs are interrelated most of the time. If you are behind schedule, it will affect your schedule, change the scope, and reallocate resources to ensure it will finish on time or with shorter delays. The same thing goes with the other KPIs mentioned above.

Remember that in each KPI you highlight in your report, mention how much has changed since the past monthly report and your plans to address specific concerns under each KPI indicated.

Effective Tools for Monthly Reporting

Creating a monthly report can be tedious for project managers in the construction industry, as it involves gathering information about the project, collating data from different areas, and creating a cohesive report.  

This can be a time-consuming process, but it is an essential task for ensuring the successful completion of the project in all aspects, including the timeline, budget, and quality standards.

The good thing is that available tools can ease the entire process. You must input or upload all the necessary data, which can whip up essential information for your report. What's more convenient is if the project management tool you use for your construction projects already has the feature of creating these reports for you.

A tool like Mastt gives you a centralized solution to all your construction project management needs, alleviating your pain points in creating these monthly reports. There is no need to collate different data sources into a report. Instead, it's like a one-stop-shop of the latest project data for your report, making it more accurate when presenting all the information needed.

How Mastt can help with Project Reports

👉 Head to Mastt's Reporting Module or download our free Project Report template.

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