I wanted to solicit some advice regarding status reports. Let’s say you’re managing a project with several participants. Do you require them to submit weekly status reports?
I am of two minds about this. On one hand, I can see where the reports would be useful. It would be interesting to have a list of what people are working on and the problems they’re running into all in one place. On the other hand, I have always hated writing status reports and swore to myself that I would never make anyone write them.
My philosophy was that by providing people with good collaborative tools, you wouldn’t need to force them to spend time writing status reports. We have an issue tracking system that we use to organize our work, and a version control system that is hooked up to a mailing list for commits. So I know exactly who’s checking in which files and which issues they’re closing at all times. That obviates the need for a lot of the stuff ordinarily found in status reports.
What I’m wondering though is whether getting rid of the obvious stuff may lead to the production of more useful status reports, rather than eliminating the need for them completely. Do you find status reports to be essential? What should go in a good status report?