Another good column from my friend Eric Spiegel, this time about the lowly weekly status report, and how it can be good or evil, depending on your point of view:
If you keep them short and sweet, weekly status reports can offer value without taking up too much time. The focus should be on the exceptions, such as new risks, and not the mundane “task on schedule” comments. At a minimum, use status reports as verification of what you should already know, thus ensuring no misunderstandings occur.
Plus there is benefit to having team members sit down and think about what happened in the last week. It can force issues forward that may not have received proper attention without a concentrated effort to summarize efforts.
I’m in agreement with Eric on this, and he also smartly comments that status reports can be replaced by blogs and wikis, under the right circumstances. Speaking as a manager, though, the last thing I want to do (or to have my boss endure) is trawl through a random sprinkling of blog entries to get to the information I need. Perhaps a group wiki would solve this problem, though.
It’s good to regularly take a snapshot of one’s work life. Work is too fast and furious sometimes to notice when many important things are going astray. Speaking of which: Excuse me while I go and weep over my open and horrifically overdue action items…