The Status Report is the best client communication tool ever! It connects you to your client each month, helps you stay accountable, keeps the project fresh in the client’s mind, provides a predictable milestone, is tied to your billing schedule, and is all on one page, back-to-back. What a great package!
You’re thinking, “It sounds like a lot of work.” Well, okay, it requires discipline because you have to prepare one every month. On the other hand, its value will quickly become evident. You’ll soon look forward to it because it helps keep you organized.
Here’s what to do.
1. Set up a template
The Status Report mirrors your proposal and begins with bullet points on study purpose, evaluation questions, and project deliverables. Several brief sections follow.
a) Task Update (an expanded version of on your task schedule)
- Planned Completion Date
- Completion Status (i.e., Not Started, In Progress, or Completed)
- Details (e.g., key dates, events, or achievements).
b) Commentary (a couple of paragraphs on study progress)
- Recent successes
- Emerging problems
- Items of interest.
c) Thank you (a closing with a comment about something memorable that happened that month, thanks for their support & your contact information)
d) Appendix (a quick field report including number of interviews completed, surveys received, etc.)
2. Monthly update
Updating the template only takes about an hour. Because you know it’s coming, you tend to keep your records organized. As you review the month’s activities, you are already planning what happens next.
3. Follow up phone call
Most important, you now have a reason to talk with your client. Set up a call to discuss the report and plan for upcoming activities. Because it provides an early warning system, your call can help you strategize about emerging issues.
Guaranteed, your clients will love the Status Report. It keeps them in the loop and if they get questions from their superiors, they already have the answers. When it’s time for your final report, implementation details are at your fingertips. Try it and see. What’s not to love?
Gail Vallance Barrington
Originally published in the Independent Consulting TIG Newsletter, Volume 7, Issue 3. September 2016.
Barrington, G. V. (2012). Consulting Start-up & Management: A Guide for Evaluators & Applied Researchers. Los Angeles: SAGE.