The Elevator Pitch: Your Project Status Report

by Regina Williams, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSM

Anyone in business has heard the phrase “elevator pitch” which is essentially telling the essential elements of a business as succinctly as possible. As a Project Manager (or pretty much any project team member), you should have this same level of summary for the current status of your project.

Countless times I’ve asked a project manager for current status and had to sift through what was really relevant in understanding whether an initiative was on track or not. When giving a status think about who wants to know and why. In more cases than not, the who will be a sponsor and/or stakeholder. These people hold demanding leadership positions so your communication to them needs to be concise and short in duration while also conveying the current status.

Your status should be between 30 to 60 seconds long. It needs to be short yet thorough enough to convey critical risks and issues and how they are impacting scope, schedule, resources, quality, and budget.

Start by stating exactly where the team is on the project. Are you in planning? Have you just completed design? What is your percentage complete?

Explain the critical blockages impeding progress. Who is assigned to resolve the issues? Are the issues/risks being resolved in a timely fashion? Do you need to escalate anything?

Finally, emphasize what you’re doing to stay on track to deliver a successful project. You must demonstrate that you are on top of the project and have a plan of action. Ask if there are any additional questions and point them to standing meetings and the location of published detailed status reports.

Executing these simple steps will ensure everyone who needs to know are kept informed and are well assured that the project is being managed well.

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