Customizing and Troubleshooting Weekly Reports

Customizing Team Member Reports

The basic report serves as a template that can be customized to fit the particular organization and its needs. Here are some possible customizations.

  1. Task status

Reporting tasks assigned to the team member and the percent of their completion can be helpful for project management. Task status can be formatted as a table. The project manager can copy this information into his schedule tracking software such as MS Project. Alternatively, if the team member updates schedule directly, he can copy relevant portions of the updated schedule into the report. See the article about online schedule tracking for more details.

  1. Activities for each day

Sometimes upper management may want to know how time was spent every day. Reporting daily activities can be done in the form of a table or by copying the daily time card, when applicable.

  1. Other Accomplishments

Some accomplishments may not relate directly to the projects at hand and thus may fit well into the “Highlights” section. Such items can be reported in a separate section named “Other Accomplishments”.

Customizing Team Manager Report

  1. Project or task status

When appropriate – particularly when the team manager is also the technical lead (called in short team lead), the report may contain a snapshot of the project completion status and schedule. The completion is usually specified in percent. The schedule can be reported as a snapshot of the Gantt chart or a table of task names and associated percent of completion.

  1. “Work in Progress” section

Have a “Work in Progress” section if the upper manager is interested to know what the team was doing during the reporting period, how time was spent – instead of or in addition to what was done, accomplished. This section should list all items from individual reports that did not go into the “Highlights” section.

  1. Translation

If the team member does not speak English, his or her report could be written in the native language. The team manager should translate that – or have that translated – into English and place in the Individual Activity section. A summary translation – a shortened version – may be acceptable.

  1. Shortened report

Individual activities and plans section can be removed and replaced with links to individual contributor reports. Alternatively, individual reports can be attached to the weekly instead of using the links. However, this approach may lack the convenience of seeing at-a-glance how time was spent by each team member. Next week plans cannot be seen at-a-glance too.

Troubleshooting Weekly Reports

Late or Missing Reports

  1. Do send weekly reports on time, even if some individual reports are late. This demonstrates that you take deadlines seriously.
  2. If an individual report is missing, summarize what you know about the progress of the team member who’s report is late. Substitute your own summary for team member’s report and indicate clearly that you wrote the status for that team member.
    If the team member’s report contains critical information which you don’t know, consider calling or texting the team member and getting the status in real time.
  3. After publishing the weekly, send a quick email to team members who’s reports are missing asking to send their reports ASAP anyway. You still may need those reports, even if they are late. This is especially important if the team member is under-performing. Late or missing reports may document the performance problem and serve as the paper trail to justify corrective actions. Lastly, by requesting the report you are also sending a message that being late is not acceptable – discipline is important.
  4. Schedule time with weekly reminder for the team to prepare individual reports. This will help ensuring it will not be taken away by other meetings. For example, in Outlook create a 30-minute weekly meeting before the reporting deadline with a pop-up reminder.
  5. If the reporting person has a planned absence on the day of report, he/she is responsible for sending in a report before he/she leaves. Planned absence is not an excuse. Only unplanned absence is.
  6. If the reporting day falls on a holiday, send a friendly reminder on the last day before holidays begin asking to send individual reports before leaving home.
  7. Do not miss reports yourself. Always designate a second-in-command to write the weekly report for you when you cannot do it. Show by example that taking care of business is a priority and things must get done regardless of someone’s absence

Reporting Language Problems

What if the reporting language is English, but some team members cannot not write in English well? If the team member can write broken English that can be understood – ask to use English. If the team member cannot write in English at all – make an exception and allow reporting in the team member’s native language.

However, the individual report should be translated into English – however briefly. The person to translate preferably should be the team manager – if the team manager speaks that language. Other possibilities include, if applicable, the administrative assistant or translator. Consider using translation software if all else fails.


To conclude the series of posts on weekly reporting – I feel that weekly reports are a critical and powerful instrument in the manager’s toolkit. The importance of this instrument should not be overlooked. I hope you see by now exactly what it is good for, how to use it and in particular how to get the most of it.

Weekly Report – Individual Contributor

This posting begins a series of commentaries dedicated to weekly reports. Weekly reporting is a common kind of organizational activity, which managers might be taking for granted. Let’s ask ourselves and ponder for a moment – exactly what purpose weekly reports serve? How can we perfect our weekly reports?

Perhaps the first thought that comes to mind to answer the first question is – weekly reports are used to monitor progress. Are there any other reasons? I believe there are eleven more important purposes served by weekly reports.

Weekly reports is an important management tool. The larger the team or organization, the more important it is to practice excellent reporting. I will address this topic in considerable detail and provide a number of ready-to-use templates for download. Specifically I would like to provide and discuss

  1. A sample of individual contributor’s report
  2. A sample of team lead/manager’s report
  3. 12 purposes a weekly report serves
  4. Variations on the “basic” report
  5. Advice on troubleshooting common problems associated with weekly reports

I hope that after reading these commentaries you will critically consider your own weekly reports in a new light – and perhaps take a step to redesign them for better efficacy.

Let us start by reviewing an example of what I consider the “basic” weekly report for an individual contributor. You can download PDF of the sample report here.

Weekly Report Sample for Individual Contributor


  1. Start by filling out “This week” section. List all activities you have performed
  2. Copy items reporting finished work from “This week” section to “Highlights”

In this section, make sure to state accomplishments, not status of activities. Do not write about work-in-progress. Definition of accomplishment varies – it could be a report having been published, module design finished, test passed, release made, etc. You may also include “good news”, which designate welcome developments. For example product performing better than expected, significant customer order received and so on.

  1. If applicable, write unexpected, unwelcome news in the “Unexpected Problems” section
  2. If applicable, fill out the “Critical Issues” section.

Any message(s) placed in this section are meant to receive immediate and full attention from your manager.

  1. Fill out “Next week plan” section

Be specific and list everything you think you will be doing. If someone requested you to do certain work next week and you agreed, reflect that request in this section to confirm that you have accepted the request and will be taking care of it.

  1. If applicable, fill out the “Planned absence” section

Alert your managers and colleagues to your planned absence as early as possible

  1. Be diplomatic, professional and courteous in your writings. Weekly reports should not be used as blame press.

Keep your reports clear and complete. To help your colleagues access resources easily, embed hyperlinks to all relevant documentation, publications or reports.

Submit your report on time. If you are out of office, consider submitting your report before departing.

  1. Address your report to the team lead/manager.

It is acceptable to copy other team members, however consider that your colleagues may not want to be flooded with redundant emails if your report will be incorporated into the team lead’s weekly.

As you can see, the individual contributor’s report exemplified above aims to communicate weekly status in a clear fashion. Items of high importance – highlights, unexpected problems and critical issues – are set apart and placed at the top for immediate manager’s attention. You may notice that the top of the report now looks like an executive summary. Yet, such filtering for purposes of clarity does not come at the expense of completeness. The “Individual Activities” section provides a comprehensive account of everything that happened throughout the reporting period.

At the end of this posting I’d like to give an example of reporting activities clearly. Consider these two items

  • 55 test passed
  • 55 tests out of 230 passed (+5 this week)

The first formulation reports status, not progress. Progress is the amount of work between now and one week ago. To understand the progress the reader must retrieve the last week’s report, which could says something like “50 tests passed”, and compare the status then to the status now.

The second formulation reports status (55), progress (+5) and also puts these number into perspective (230 total). Do you think reader will appreciate this particular wording? Perhaps so.