In my career journey in marketing, I have often encountered the underestimation of the stress and effort involved in reporting work progress, particularly by organisation leaders. It can be frustrating when progress reports need to be generated and submitted within a day or two, even when the project or milestone is not yet fully completed.
During my time as the Communications Coordinator at Black Professionals Scotland, I came across a valuable strategy that helped alleviate some of this stress. There were instances when we would attend an evening event, and it was crucial to have post-event communication materials ready by the following morning. This often seemed like an impossible task, but it was necessary to ensure that our materials were not overshadowed by our event attendees who are immediately posting on their pages. Thanks to Asabea, who taught me this strategy, I have been able to apply it to my work, and still continue to learn from it.
The idea behind this strategy is to carefully study the event on the flyer and the program description. By doing so, I would gain a clear understanding of the expected outcomes of the event. With this knowledge in mind, I began drafting possible outcomes, leaving blank spaces that could be filled in later upon completion of the event or milestone. This allows me to create a post-comms message that is tailored to the particular event, even before its completion.
By adopting this approach, one can essentially create a framework for progress report. You outline the expected outcomes and leave room for additional information and details that will be filled in later. This not only saves time but also ensures that you capture all the necessary information in a timely manner.
For example, let’s say you are working on a project that involves organising a conference for your organisation. Before the conference takes place, you can draft a progress report that outlines the goals and objectives of the event, as well as any expected outcomes. You can include sections such as attendee demographics, keynote speakers, panel discussions, and networking opportunities. However, you leave blank spaces where specific details will be inserted once the planning is complete.
Once the conference is over, you can quickly fill in the missing information and complete the progress report. This allows you to provide an accurate and comprehensive overview of the project, without the added pressure of having to write a report from scratch within a short timeframe.
This strategy not only helps in managing time constraints but also ensures that your progress reports are thorough and well-structured. By outlining the expected outcomes in advance, you can focus on gathering the necessary data and information during the event or project, rather than scrambling to compile everything at the last minute.
Adapting this strategy to other scenarios could also been beneficial. For example, when working on a marketing campaign that involves several deliverables, one can create a progress report template at the beginning of the project. Outline the key milestones and objectives, leaving spaces for the actual results and achievements that will be filled in as the campaign progresses. This will allow to track the progress of the campaign and have a ready-made, up-to-date report whenever it is needed.
Or imagine working on long-term projects, such as product development or research studies that involve numerous stages and milestones that unfold over an extended period of time. By creating a progress report template at the start of the project and regularly updating it as each stage is completed, one can easily maintain an accurate record of the project’s progress. This not only facilitates internal reporting within the team or organisation, but also provides a comprehensive overview for any external stakeholders or clients that may require updates.
In addition to saving time and reducing stress, this approach also enables you to showcase your work in a timely manner. By having progress reports ready soon after completing a project or milestone, you can ensure that your efforts are recognized and appreciated by organisation leaders and stakeholders. This can lead to increased visibility and opportunities for career advancement.
To summarise, the process of reporting work progress is often underestimated, but it plays a crucial role in ensuring the smooth running of projects. By adopting a “draft and fill” method, one can expedite the reporting process and maintain accuracy even before the project or milestone is fully completed.