The latest .NET Rocks podcast interviews Pat Hynds on why projects fail. Toward the end of his interview he mentions a simple template for status reports.
- What did you work on?
- What did you get done?
- What did you do that you didn’t anticipate having to do?
- What did you plan to do that you didn’t get done?
- What do you plan to do?
- What do you need from others?
When I started managing a group of programmers, I’d focus on #1 and #2. But in some ways #3 is the most important question. That question can alert you to a major time sink that’s not include in your project estimates. That question can let you know of problems beyond an individual developer’s ability to resolve. That question that can tell you it’s time to buy something you were planning on building yourself.