Top 5 Essential Reports for Project Managers

Last Updated: July 29, 2021

Project managers work on tough deadlines and budgets. They lead a project from planning to completion. One of the important components that make their life easy is reporting and dashboards.

In a survey by Wellingtone, it was found that 50% of project managers spend at least one full business day per month to manually develop project KPI reports.

And still, they can easily lose focus over “what is actually needed” vs. “what can be easily added” to the report. The need is to identify the right set of project management reports and dashboards that would benefit the project managers throughout the project’s lifecycle and meet the expectations of all the project stakeholders. In this blog, we will cover the top 5 reports every project manager needs, to get the basic KPIs in place.

Top 5 reports for Project Managers

Before we proceed to reports that can boost your project management capabilities, let’s understand how project management has evolved.

Why Project Management Analytics is Vital to your Project Management Software?

The analytics feature in project management software is a boon for project managers. With Analytics and Business Intelligence for Project Management Software, project managers are able to make strategic decisions in real-time and improve project success rates.
Analytics can power your existing project management tools such as Wrike, Jira, etc. to better slice, dice, aggregate, and understand the meaning behind the numbers and data points.

Without further ado, let’s deep dive into the most essential project status reports that project managers need.

1. Project Overview Report

The project overview report provides a bird’s-eye view of the entire project flow thus helping in a thorough assessment of its moving parts. It combines graphs and charts to show workload distribution, task progress, and where each phase of the project stands.

project overview dashboard

The following are some of the important components to look for in the project overview report.

  • Project Health – records status of projects in terms of time and cost
  • Project Progress – showcasing each deliverables’ progress % 
  • Task Report – shows the task status, progress, and overdue tasks
  • Workload – gives an idea of tasks that each project team member is handling.
  • Weekly Output – how many hours on average it took to complete all tasks on a particular day of the week. 
  • Resource Allocation – this report combined with the workload report gives an idea of how many tasks were allocated and how much got done.

In the screenshot, the cards summarizing the project data are very helpful to aggregate important information. They require a click to be placed on the project overview dashboard in HappyFox BI for Wrike.

2. Baseline Report

All projects are governed by hard rules like project timelines, scope, and budget. A project baseline comprises all of these, and without them, you don’t have a project. 

For example, let’s assume that you’ve got 30 days of time allocated for developing your client’s website. How will you know if your current schedule is going as per the planned delivery date? Project baseline report lets you understand the current progress and whether you will be able to deliver the project on time.

Here’s a screenshot of a Gantt Chart that explains the timeline of the action items in the project wherein front-end development is followed by backend development and then testing of the client’s website. It clearly shows that the outcome will take more than a month and some steps need to be taken to speed up the project.

gantt chart

3. Timesheet Report

One of the important metrics in project management is the time tracking of each project, especially when you have got a client who pays your employees on an hourly basis. But there are certain tasks that cannot be billed like administrative tasks, consultations, and meetings before signing the contract, fixing your avoidable errors, maintenance of the project, etc. Keeping track of these billable and non-billable work hours can be of paramount importance to project managers.

timesheet report

The above screenshot shows timesheet dashboards with visualizations that provide an estimate of the total billable hours and the most and least billed projects. The first graph shows various projects and billable and non-billable hours spent on each project. As a further drill down the last two visualizations shows the top five tasks that took the highest and lowest billed time.

One more important metric under the timesheet report is to understand how each employee is engaged with each project. What better than a heat map to get this data in an easily digestible way?

heat map

When project managers are tired of Excel and limited project management reporting, analytics solutions like HappyFox BI can help report their project data with easy pivoting and great visualizations like the heat map shown above. The best part about HappyFox BI for Wrike is that it syncs all the data from Wrike and provides these visualizations that are hard to create in Wrike.

4. Task Progress Report

task progress report

Tasks are small entities that when tied together become a project. Tracking tasks means tracking the whole project. A good report should convey the task status and progress and the respective stakeholders of the task. Like in the screenshot above, just a glance should be enough to understand the activity progress for a given project.

One more report that’s useful for task reporting is overdue tasks by status. While project managers look at the task overview report to get an idea of the progress, it is very important to drill down on the overdue tasks and check if anything that’s high on the priority list is missed.

overdue tasks report

With visualization from HappyFox BI, you can further drill down into each of these visualizations to look into the nitty-gritty of the summarized data.

5. Employee Productivity

A project manager’s job doesn’t end with project status and deadlines, it is incomplete without people management. Knowing about employee productivity and performance and taking steps to constantly improve it can boost your project health and motivate your team members to reach new project milestones.

segmentation chart and stacked bar chart

In the screenshot above, there’s a segmentation chart that rates the employees based on skill and experience to calculate the employee value. The stacked bar chart below the segmentation chart represents the count of tasks handled by each employee each day of the week.

tree map & pivot table

There are other productivity metrics tracked in the above screenshot. The first one is a simple treemap to showcase which employee worked for more billed hours. The second is a pivot table that contains a detailed breakdown of employee tasks for each project under each group/ company.

Key Takeaways

Insightful reports and KPI dashboards are one of the most sought-after features in project management software. Project managers have started leveraging analytics to save time, cost, and effort to make decisions and execute projects. 

This blog attempted to solve one of the pain points of the project managers – project reporting and dashboards. We tried to cover the most important KPIs that can help project managers to gain the best insights out of their project management or analytics software in real-time.

If you have any particular analytics use-case that your project management software is unable to accomplish, feel free to get in touch with our friendly solution experts for a HappyFox BI for Wrike demo cum interactive session.