When a project is in progress, regardless of the phase, there is a requirement for the Project Manager to provide confirmation of the projects health to the PMO on a fortnightly basis. Also to their PMB’s via the project highlight report (see Templates), at the frequency agreed by the PMB. The information below provides guidance on what should be reported and the associated criteria or the RAG statuses.
RAG is an acronym for Red, Amber, Green, with the colour indicating the level of confidence that the Project Manager has that the category is under control. There are several categories in which the Project Manager must decide on the appropriate colour to display for their project. These are often called traffic lights, for obvious reasons.
Note: It must be emphasised that by a Project Manager reporting other than Green in any category, it is not an indication that the PM is failing. Things happen during the execution of a project plan that cause concerns and require some intervention from higher management. Setting these flags to Amber or Red is an indication to the governing bodies that some action is required from them to assist getting the project back on track.
The reporting categories are:
- Scope / Quality
Each of these categories tells the governing bodies different information about the state of the project, and so it is important that the status lights are set in a consistent and meaningful way.
The sections below detail how the report should be completed.
The current stage of a project will have an expected completion date. There may be a tolerance set to allow some extra time without further reference. Each time a report is produced, the Project Manager must refer to their schedule and forecast the completion date of the stage.
Green: If the Project Manager is confident that the forecast completion date of the stage is on or before the expected completion date, the indicator light should be set to Green.
Amber: If the Project Manager has reasonable doubt that the expected completion date will not be achievable, the indicator should be set to Amber.
Red: If the Project Manager thinks it is likely that the stage will finish after the allowed tolerance date, the indicator must be set to Red.
Reporting of Issues
Issues should be reported on as "as necessary" basis but must include anything that has caused an amber or red status. The governance group needs to be informed of issues if either:
The issues is being escalated to the group for action; or
The issue has had an impact on the project which needs to be understood by the group.
It is neither relevant nor useful to report on all day-to-day issues that are being handled internally by the project team.
The Project Manager will be managing a budget. This may include a tolerance amount as described in Financial Management. When each report is due the Project Manager should forecast the total expected expenditure for the phase, and report accordingly.
Green: If the forecast expenditure is equal to or less than the approved budget (including tolerance if appropriate), then cost should be reported as Green.
Amber: If the Project Manager anticipates that the total cost may exceed the approved budget plus tolerance, then cost should be reported as Amber.
Red: If the Project Manager is reasonably certain that the project budget and tolerance will be exceeded, then cost must be reported as Red.
All projects are subject to risks. Reporting on risks is linked to how manageable the risks are thought to be by the Project Manager.
Green: If all identified risks have an acceptable handling approach, then report as Green.
Amber: If there are risks that are causing concern, and some intervention is needed from the governing bodies, then report as Amber.
Red: If there are high or extreme impact risks that are likely to be realised and cause disruptions to the project plan, then report as Red.
Scope / Quality
The reporting of scope refers to how stable the scope of the project is. If there are a lot of change requests, or the scope of the project is not clearly defined, it may cause concerns.
Quality refers to the quality of deliverables for the project phase in progress. This could be measured by the number of defects if the deliverable is software, or the number of issues from review of a document.
Green: If there are no or few change requests and the scope is signed off and stable, then Scope can be reported as Green.
If the Project Manager is confident that the number of defects or issues is manageable and will not cause any delays or excess cost, then Quality should be reported as Green.
Amber: If the Project Manager is concerned that there are more change requests than can be handled, or that assessment of the change requests is having other impacts on the project, then scope should be reported as Amber. It may also indicate that the Project Manager is losing confidence that the agreed scope will in fact deliver the desired results.
If the Project Manager is in doubt about the quality of a deliverable or deliverables, or foresees that reviews may be taking longer than planned, then Quality should be reported as Amber.
Red: If the Project Manager believes that scope change requests are likely to cause a delay or cost overrun, then Scope must be reported as Red. It may also indicate that the Project Manager has serious doubts about the delivery of the desired results.
If the Project Manager believes that the number of defects is excessive, or that reviews are going to cause delays, then Quality must be reported as Red.
Reporting on resources is based on the resources that are assigned to tasks in the schedule.
Green: If all resources assigned in the schedule are available and there are no concerns, then report as Green.
Amber: If there are concerns about the availability of resources, or for example an assigned resource is thought to be considering resignation, then report as Amber. It can also indicate a previously unknown skills gap within the team.
Red: If resources assigned in the schedule are not available and this is going to cause delays or cost overruns, then Resources must be reported as Red.