Reporting – The First R is . . . Reporting

Last week I mentioned why Reporting, in a way is a core part of the P(x)M jobs – Program, Project, and even Product Managers. Basically knowing is core to what we do, reporting is key to knowing, so like it or not it’s a part of your job. Fortunately I like reporting, which is both an advantage an possibly a cry for help.

So what happens when you come onto a new project and need reporting to run? Well that’s my next focus here, and I’m going to explain my seven stages of reporting, each of which conveniently begins with “R”. It’s like the five stages of grief with spreadsheets and my usual display of anal-retentiveness.

When you come onto a project, one of the first things you need to do is get reporting running so you and everyone else are informed about what’s going on. Admittedly when you know what’s going on it could result in panic, but we’ll actually cover that in stage five.

So what’s your first step in getting reporting running.

Step One is . . . Reporting.

See the first stage of doing good reporting is to keep the engine running and just keep the Reporting going as it is. Fill out those forms, query Jira, whatever. Use whatever reporting system you have.

Yes, it may be terrible, but keep it running. At least there’s the chance you’ll learn something.

Yes, it may be incomplete, but keep it running. At least you have something.

Yes, it may be inaccurate, but keep it running. At least you’ll find out it’s wrong.

Yes, it may be incomprehensible, but keep it running. At least you’ll learn.

Yes, it may be awful, but imagine the chaos caused by not doing it. At least people won’t panic if the reports aren’t working, freeing them up to panic for other reasons.

See no matter how bad the reporting is, in almost all cases it’s better to keep it running. Even if it’s a complete disaster it’ll usually teach you a lot, even if those are hard lessons. Painful lessons. But lessons nonetheless.

Besides, there’s always the chance it’s not the disaster you think it is and it may actually be Ok. So keep the system running.

However you need to know it’s OK . . . . and that leads us to the next “R”, “Research” . . .

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, nerd and geek culture at http://www.nerdcaliber.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/.