How to Effectively Monitor Contracts & Projects with Status Reports!

In many cases people who are not in projects or contracts aren't sensitive to the fact that a contract or project status reporting clause can be one of the most important clauses in the contract. Unfortunately very often it's actually even left out, but if you ever managed projects and administered contracts, you know how critical status reporting is.

What To Include in a Contract & Project Status Report?

Essentially we want to make sure that at the very beginning of the project or contract, we get a detailed schedule from the contractor identifying all of the major tasks and events that must be performed, all the way through the final acceptance and closeout date. 

We define this in the original tender or Request for Proposal (RFP) documents in that the contractor will have to provide us these detailed schedules. 

Example of Actual Wording in a Project Status Report!

  1. Supplier shall provide within 5 working days of the signing of the contract a detailed schedule of all major tasks and events required to design, purchase materials, manufacture, test & deliver the scope by the required dates.
  2. The supplier shall provide weekly, a progress report of the actual status adequate to allow the Buyer to monitor the progress against the original schedule and toward the timely completion.

Click Here To Get the Full 1 Page Template for the Status Reporting 3 Clauses & Do’s & Don’ts of  Questions to Obtain Accurate Updates.

The Issue with Status Reporting Clause - Is It Updated?

In the example above we said the status report must be provided to us within five days and then provide a weekly progress. The issue however here is …

… how often after that will they actually be updating the schedules? 

If there’s an application like Microsoft Projects, updates can be updated there, so that you can have a view of the schedule 24/7. All the stakeholders would have a username and password to get real time updates and see day-to-day what is happening on your schedule. 

You usually decide with the project and contract administration team as to how often you will look at it  You can always tell the contractor whether this is weekly or monthly, depending on the nature of the project or contract and what you buy plus its duration.

How to Get Accurate Updates with Status Reporting?

1. Make Status Reporting Easy for the Contractor!

Now, if it was a perfect world, the best way to check project and contract status is have somebody there visually seeing it. In today's world it's amazing however that we could actually require our contractor to snap pictures or walk around with our smart phones and take recordings, and email them to us every three hours or something. The technology has offered us a lot of new opportunities in to get an accurate status reporting without having to write long reports.

In one case, I was very concerned about the accuracy of the performance report, so I actually required the contractor to place a video camera at a location at the site. I could watch it 24/7 and so could all of the stakeholders. So we could actually see when the material is being delivered. 

At first, there was some pushback from the contractor. He said that he didn't want to feel like he had someone overviewing and watching them all the time but they finally realized this was much easier than having to make reports to us.

2. Ask the Correct Questions! 

One of the most dangerous things to do is to pick up the phone, call the supplier, and ask …"Is my project on schedule?"  Because you already know what the answer will most likely be. It will probably be - "Yes, everything is going just fine." Even when things are not.

Instead here’s what you need to do …

Every Project or Contract Manager and Administrator must frame this on their wall:

"Don't ever ask a question that can be answered with a yes or no." 

Always open with questions that are what we describe as open-ended. In other words, here are the do’s and don’ts of asking questions for project/contract status update and reporting …

DON’T - "Is my project on schedule?" 

DO - "Please tell me exactly where my project is at the present time." 

DON’T - "Has the material been received?" Because they probably will say yes. 

DO - "When exactly did the material get received? Could you please tell me what material has been received and what material is still waiting to be received?" 

If you are the project manager or contract administrator and one of the responsibilities you have is to report to the rest of the organization what is happening on the project you need to have all the answers in your fingertips  …

…  is it working? Is it on schedule? 

You need to answer this almost at all times, because that relates to your own reputation. What do you want your reputation to be? 

Do you want to be known as the person who says it's on time and then you can take it to the bank, yes, it would be on time.

Or do you want to be known like some others who when they say it's on time, you better go check yourself because they give fake information just to get you off the phone? 

Be Fanatical About Accurate Status Reporting & Updates!

When you do get information, make sure that it is documented and make sure that your contractors and your suppliers know that one thing you are fanatical about is receiving accurate information. You would not tolerate getting anything that's wrong because, if you pass on wrong information, then you are the one who appears wrong. 

You cannot even go back and say, "Oh, the supplier told me this," because you're expected to verify somehow that what you are passing on is correct. 

If you liked the above, fill In Your Details Below to  Get the Full 1 Page Template for the Status Reporting Clause & the Correct Questions To Ask to Get Accurate Updates!


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