I just came across this study from Besner and Hobbs on the PMI website, and it was looking at the top 70 tools and techniques project managers use to manage projects in the real world. Interestingly, looking at a broad cross section of project managers from organisations of differing levels of maturity and managing projects of different sizes, one thing remained constant.

The number one tool for both low and high maturity organisations, and for working on projects both under and over $1m was the humble progress report.

The top ten in all categories also included many other tried and true project management tools and techniques such as task scheduling, Gantt charts, change requests and milestone planning, but it was the progress report that stood out as being the most important tool in all four categories. It just goes to show that project managers value knowing exactly where they are at, and where they are heading, at any stage of the project. And no matter the size of the project or the organisation, progress reports have a very significant place in the project management process.

That’s why it’s so important to be able to quickly produce this information with accuracy and reliability. There is so much information and communication surrounding a project, at times it can be difficult for the project manager to draw out the important information about his or her project to make good decisions and manage the project effectively. And as the survey tells us, that is what they really want, and will use often and across a whole range of projects. That’s why solid reporting tools that can produce accurate and reliable progress reports are a paramount addition when it comes to any project manager’s tool set. As a project manager do you have access to reliable reporting tools that can give you excellent progress reports?