What Is a Progress Report And How Can Your Business Benefit from It?

Author's avatar Reporting Nov 4, 2021 12 minutes read

Table of contents

    Peter Caputa

    Enjoy reading this blog post written by our experts or partners.

    If you want to see what Databox can do for you, click here.

    Tracking any project’s status is an essential step for making sure it’s done on time and done well. It’s why a progress report is so important.

    In fact, this report can help you boost team accountability, promote decision-making transparency, and improve budget planning all while keeping the team motivated by showcasing milestones achieved.

    Hard to believe? Actually, this has been proven by Databox’s original research: most companies confirmed that regular monitoring and reporting bring very concrete benefits.

    Here’s a look at how ten companies have benefited from progress reports. Side by side, you’ll also learn the following today:

    Read on.

    What Is a Progress Report?

    A progress report is a report documenting a project’s progress helping team leaders, project managers, clients, and supervisors track project status, milestones hit, and issues faced among other things.

    Essentially, 40.7% of teams manage 1-5 projects at a given time according to our contributors.

    29.6% also manage 6-10 running projects at a time with 14.8% and 11.1% juggling between 11-20 and 21-30 projects at once. 3.7% also handle 31-40 projects at one time.

    How many active projects does your team manage at once

    This makes progress reports critical for tracking each project’s status while getting an overview of the people working on each project, their responsibilities, the challenges they encounter, and much more.

    In fact, on average each project team comprises of 3-5 members among 77.78% of our contributors. 14.81% have less than three team members working on a project with only 7.4% having more than five people working on each project.

    Average project team size

    Keeping this in mind, you’ll see that a progress report is a helpful way to get a quick look at who’s working on which project at a time. This, in turn, assists you in communicating with the right people for a specific project.

    All this information also helps you better manage projects. Using the overview that the report provides, you can also keep key stakeholders – even clients – informed on the work completed while making sure the project finishes by its set schedule.

    But this is just the tip of the benefits iceberg. As you’ll learn below, there’s a lot that a progress report helps teams achieve.

    How Often Should You Report on Progress

    Ideally, the frequency of reporting on a project’s progress depends on its scope and complexity.

    On average, however, 52% of companies make project reports on a weekly basis. Others prefer either biweekly or monthly progress reports.

    Less than 5% make daily progress reports as data gathered on a daily basis is mostly surface-level information that doesn’t help much.

    Progress reporting frequency

    What Are the Best Tools for Progress Reporting

    Most companies, 60%, use Asana, a project management software for creating their projects’ progress reports.

    Related: 24 Benefits of Using Asana for Reporting on Work Progress

    However, around 18% prefer centralized dashboards and Jira, respectively. 15% use Teamwork with the remaining using other tools.

    Best progress reporting tools

    Related: 13 Best Project Management Tools to Manage Projects Efficiently in 2021

    Benefits of Using Progress Reports

    Let’s now look at how other businesses are using their progress reports to improve their project management.

    Here’s a quick look at the benefits followed by the detailed walk-through of each:

    1. Improve overall business efficiency
    2. Identify trends and market changes
    3. Better plan project marketing budget
    4. Make project adjustments on the go
    5. Learn from past mistakes
    6. Promote team collaboration and accountability
    7. Improve team transparency
    8. Boost productivity

    1. Improve overall business efficiency

    “Having a consistent approach to progress reporting gives the organization some consistency, and realigns the team members to the goals,” writes Sally Stevens from FastPeopleSearch.io.

    In fact, for their company, Stevens says “business reports are solution finders.”

    “It often feels like progress reports are reality checks and expectation setters,” adds Stevens. “For instance, business processes that are flagged out during progress reports have to be changed or replaced in order to perform better. As such, progress reports contribute to the general efficiency of the company.”

    “Our progress reporting systems act as review points for everyone,” Stevens continues. “By having frequent reports, we can figure out productivity drops, issues with our systems, and even churn in some instances. Such things are important for the health of any business”

    Related: Improve Marketing Agency Operational Efficiency with These 17 Tips & Software

    2. Identify trends and market changes

    “In our case, business reporting really helps with figuring out trends and market changes,” shares Cocodoc’s Alina Clark.

    “When you do business within a fast-moving and highly competitive environment, understanding what’s happening and how certain occurrences can impact your business is crucial,” Clark elaborates.

    “Sometimes, such reports can draw the line between business success and failure. For instance, [we] changed our target market almost mid-year because the progress reports pointed to a shift in market capability, and an increase in completion. This decision has propelled us to new heights this year.”

    In fact, your progress report can bring to light challenges, trends, and even internal team patterns (example: poor productivity) by simply laying out project status and work done timeline among other details on a single dashboard. This makes it easy for you to identify patterns, challenges, and trends.

    3. Better plan project marketing budget

    With all project details outlined in a progress report, it’s a great help in deciding marketing budgets for new projects based on the work that went into similar projects in the past.

    For new projects too, progress reports are helpful for determining budgets. By highlighting a project’s scope, the people working on it, its timeline, and other details in one report, you can settle on the budget better than when you try to mentally estimate the work involved.

    It’s probably why Hardik Oza from LoyaltyXpert goes on to say that “the monthly or quarterly progress reports make a great impact on business.”

    “Through the progress data, we can plan the marketing strategies, and also help us to find loopholes in any channels,” Oza notes. “Further, it will help us to understand in which marketing channels we need to increase or decrease the marketing budget.”

    Related: 15 Essential Project KPIs That Benefit the Entire Team

    4. Make project adjustments on the go

    This one’s a progress report benefit that Vickie Pierre from LAInsuranceQuotes.org points out.

    “Plain and simple — progress reports help us to make vital adjustments as we work on projects, rather than waiting until the end,” Pierre says.

    “For us, progress reports are much like driving a car. They help you know when to accelerate when to pull over, when to slow down, and when to change lanes. Rather than waiting until the end of your drive and saying, ‘wow, pulling over back then would have helped my car’s performance,’ you’re doing what needs to be done as soon as you need to.”

    Pierre goes on to explain: “In the absence of progress reports, we’re forced to wait until the conclusion of our work to really reflect and make major decisions. And while reflecting at the end of a project certainly is valid, a lot of headaches and even crises can be averted by providing a simple progress report.”

    “When it’s all said and done, our time and resources are precious. As is our output,” Pierre sums up. “Taking the proactive measure to look at our successes and failures throughout the timeline will always ensure the proper use of resources, work, and time.”

    The team at PeopleFinderFree drives the same benefit from their progress report.

    “As a manager, I have been using such progress reports, which are practical methods of keeping my R&D team on time,” observes Eden Cheng.

    “On the other hand, if my business lacks a written record of progress, such progress reports give my team a profound knowledge of common issues and let them offer timely intercession and feedback.”

    “With the help of such reports, I am able to reassure recipients that you are progressing and the project will go smoothly. As this document outlines the significant activities that I have carried out these days, it allows my team to complete any project by the deadline,” elaborates Cheng.

    “Progress reports provide me with crucial business details, [help] develop future forecasts, guide budget planning, marketing plans, and build decision-making ability,” Cheng summarizes.

    5. Learn from past mistakes

    Not only does a progress report help you improvise as the project unfolds, but it also helps you learn from mistakes made in the past.

    For example, you can review past project reports and identify mistakes your team commonly makes.

    For the Pro Support Accessories’ team, this one’s a major benefit of progress reports. Eric Mills highlights, “the biggest benefit of progress reports for our business was that it gave us an opportunity to learn and improve on our mistakes.”

    “We are a fairly fresh brand with a lot to learn, and it certainly helps to look at progress reports every week or so,” admits Mills. “It helps to keep us on track and learn from any mistakes we make along the way. If it’s getting better with each report, then it’s working!”

    Related: 5 Marketing Agency Reporting Mistakes that Sabotage Client Relationships

    6. Promote team collaboration and accountability

    “A well-written report will enable us to acquire insight into the project’s details while also providing accurate real-time information about the project’s finances,” comments Kurt Walker from Cream City Home Buyers.

    “Furthermore, it has helped us keep all employees on the same page because everyone receives a copy of the project report, which helps us keep our employees motivated because they see what we have accomplished,” Walker adds.

    “Since we have multiple departments working on the same project, a report improves business collaboration by reducing redundancy.”

    “Lastly, because it provides a proper paper trail, this report aids in the accountability process if something goes wrong,” shares Walker.

    In short, progress reports keep teams on the same page, promote project collaboration, and further accountability while motivating team members by showing them progress made.

    7. Improve team transparency

    Not only does a progress report promote team coordination and accountability, but it also offers transparency as all details and data are recorded in the report. The same also aids better decision-making.

    For Estate CPA, this is how progress reports have benefitted them and their business, says Paul Sundin.

    “In my experience, our business reports have helped me become transparent with the team about the decisions I’m making for the business,” Sundin writes.

    Business reports are one of the most important aspects of a business. It helps us analyze possible solutions to problems and issues that arise. However, more than that, it allows us to be transparent with both internal and external people.”

    “All the data needed is in the business reports, so should someone need it, it’s there for them to see,’ explains Sundin.

    “With the help of our business reports, individuals, both internal and external, get a better understanding of the decisions I make to help make the company progress in a certain direction.”

    8. Boost productivity

    “A well-designed progress report can shave precious time off projects of any sort, allowing the project lead to easily identify any issues that might affect productivity and progress,” Fig Loans’ John Li notes.

    “We’ve seen our projects completed around 15% faster by implementing them,” Li points out.

    “If one team member is overloaded with tasks, some might be offset onto another employee equally suited for the job. The progress report also gives upper management a clear picture of what’s happening in every department, so they can assess whether projects are falling in line with overarching business goals and missions.”

    In fact, by tracking who is working on which project, you can ensure no team member’s workload is overwhelming. This, in turn, makes sure they deliver quality work while staying away from burnout.

    Plus, a progress report is helpful even as you use incentives to motivate employees and improve productivity – something that the Trusted House Painter team does.

    Paul Stein points out, “the main benefit progress reports have brought to my business is aligning and realigning incentives after viewing the report. My methodology of getting things accomplished is mainly through incentivizing my teams. A progress report is a great tool to gauge if it’s working!”

    Take Your Progress Reporting Process to The Next Level with Databox

    And that’s a wrap. From improving team productivity to inter-departmental team collaboration, there’s a lot that progress reports can help you with.

    Ready to create your own progress report? Use Databox to create individual project dashboards as well as a central dashboard showing progress on all projects.

    This way, one quick look will show you project status, the milestones you’ve hit, the budget invested, and whatever else you want to see in the report.

    Most of all: Databox reports are automatically updated so there’s no extra work involved for your team.

    So what are you waiting for? Sign for a free trial today and start making useful progress reports now.

    Author's avatar
    Article by
    Masooma Memon

    Masooma is a freelance writer for SaaS and a lover to-do lists. When she's not writing, she usually has her head buried in a business book or fantasy novel.

    More from this author

    Get practical strategies that drive consistent growth

    Read some