With contemporary organizations growing in scope and magnitude, modern businesses are increasingly creating complex organizational goals. This is where a program manager comes in; to oversee and coordinate the various projects to meet organizational goals. But what are some of the things that a project manager has to report?
The program manager reports critical information about the program to the project owner or the senior management team. This information includes program progress, outputs and outcomes, status reports, risks reports, and program spend.
This article will explore some of the things that a program manager has to report to the project sponsor in great detail. To increase your awareness of these critical reporting areas, read on.
1. Program Management Plan
The program management plan is a report issued by the program manager that provides a road map for the program/project.
This plan is then used to manage, monitor, and control the program through its life cycle.
In essence, this plan outlines what needs to be done, who is responsible for doing it, and when and where it needs to be done.
2. Program Progress to the Programme Director or SRO
One of the main things that a program manager has to report is the program’s progress. These reports are supposed to be done at regular intervals throughout the course of the project.
This is so that the program manager can keep the senior project owner (SRO) or the program director in the loop about the project’s progress.
This will often include program progress for the ongoing programs over which the program manager is responsible.
3. Program Outcomes and Outputs
The program manager is responsible for providing a report of project outcomes and outputs to management. This is crucial to facilitate effective planning and tracking.
In these reports, the project manager has to provide a periodic summary of the extent to which the outcomes and outputs of a given program have been realized based on set measurable indicators.
4. Status Report
A project status report is an official document that communicates the overall progress of a given project, subject to the projected project plan.
Depending on the program size, these reports can be weekly or monthly.
A status report is important as it keeps the SRO or program director informed about program progress and any arising issues.
This will allow the program’s senior management team to respond to any arising issues before they can negatively impact project progress and goals.
Additionally, this is also aimed at ensuring that the project will be achieved within the provided time frame.
5. Risk Report
A program manager is responsible for reporting on risks that may potentially impact the program. Typically, these risks are identified following a review of the risk register and logs from the team members working on a given program.
Included in this report are the various risks to the project based on priority. The highest priority will typically fall on those risks which have the potential to cause the most significant threat to the project. These are then followed by moderate and low-level risks.
A sound risk report not only includes a summary of the program’s risk profile, but also a thorough explanation of how the team plans to mitigate these risks.
For more on risk management, please read our article on program management activities.
6. Program Spend
A program spend report simply summarizes the program spending data. The objective of this report is to facilitate prudent budgeting and to help assess the financial performance of the program.
These types of reports help the SRO or the program director to have a clear view of how the funds available for the project are being spent. This report also informs the SRO and the program director whether there is a need for a supplemental budget.
This report also informs the program senior management team whether the funds available will see the program to fruition. Consequently, the program senior management team can prevent leakages and arrest misappropriation of funds.
7. Program Costs by Category
The program costs by category report summarizes the costs associated with the program based on each category.
In program management, program categories enable the program manager to aggregate multiple programs under a category. The objective of this kind of grouping is to simplify reporting needs, and to optimize site organization. This way, the program manager does not have to provide multiple cost reports for different programs to the senior management team.
Like the program spend report, this is a monitoring tool to provide an overview of the costs based on the various categories.
8. Cost Plan
The program cost plan is essentially a baseline plan for the expected costs of a given program. It also includes an agreement between the program manager and the program owner on how progress will be measured in terms of costs.
The cost plan also includes an agreement between the program manager and the program owner on updates and forecasts of the program fund requirements, budget estimates, and plans for funding changes.
This way, the program owner is kept in the loop on any changes to the baseline costs to facilitate proper adjustments to the program budget.
9. Program Upcoming Milestones
A project is divided into different milestones, which allow the program manager to measure the project progress against the program’s ultimate goal. Think of a program milestone as a goal post.
In these reports, the program manager notifies the project owner or senior project team about the completion of a given milestone, and the program’s upcoming milestones.
In essence, the program manager is telling their superiors that they have shifted the proverbial goalposts. That all the attention has shifted to the following milestones.
This is a critical tool for program tracking, and serves as a key indicator of program progress against the set goals.
10. Program Issues
As the name suggests, the program issues report summarizes any and all issues that the program manager and their team have experienced during the reporting period.
The program manager uses this opportunity to communicate any hindrances that have impacted or that could potentially impact the achievement of program objectives and outcomes.
For instance, a project team working with local people may face difficulties such as attacks from wildlife, harsh weather conditions, poor access to roads, etc. The program manager can also use these reports to suggest possible solutions to these program issues.
11. Program Requests
The program manager will periodically communicate program-specific requests to the project owner or the senior management team.
This could include any number of things, from the provision of supplemental funds, added security or support equipment for the program team working in harsh environments, and so on.
Remember, one of the primary roles of the program manager is to coordinate activities, acting as a liaison between the program owner and the program team on the ground.
Thus, they have to relay essential requests made by the team to those on the proverbial top.
12. Program Resources
The program resources report provides an overview of the different team members assigned to a given program/project and the roles or tasks to which they are assigned.
This makes it easy to ensure that each key deliverable has an attached contact person who is reachable if needed.
Simply stated, the project owner or senior management team will use this report to pinpoint which team member is attached to which deliverable and on which day.
If any issues arise, the program manager can narrow the issue down to whoever was attached to the task on that given day.
- Department of Finance Airgeadais UK: Roles and Responsibilities of the Programme Manager
- Project Management Institute: Roles, Responsibilities and Skills in Program Management
- Project Manager: 8 Essential Project Reports
- Kissflow: 6 Essential Project Management Reports for Project Managers
- Smartsheet: The Ultimate Guide to Project Status Reports
- Asana: What is a Risk Register: A Project Manager’s Guide (And Example)
- Plainview: Program Dashboard and Reports
- Wrike: What is a Milestone in Project Management
- Google Books: Cornell University Library – Small Hydroelectric Power Demonstration Projects