The Crucial Role of Weekly Status Reports in Instructional Design Consulting

The Crucial Role of Weekly Status Reports in Instructional Design Consulting By Leighanne Lankford

You’ve landed a fun project as a solo instructional design consultant. The client has told you what they want and their deadline. Now all you have to do is use your great design and SME handling skills to get the job done – right?  Wrong! You also need to have a plan for communicating with the client regularly on your progress or roadblocks. That means sending a weekly status report to your client. While there are many benefits of creating and sending a weekly status report, the main purpose behind creating and sending a status report is to communicate progress on a project.

In this article, we’ll go through a few of the reasons why you need to prioritize weekly status reporting on all your projects!

Reason #1: Your client will get nervous without one.

Scenario 1: Imagine you are a corporate learning manager. You have a staff of ten or so people plus a couple of outside consultants all working on projects. Two weeks ago, you gave a critical project to a new instructional design consultant you’ve never worked with before. The consultant works from home, and you haven’t heard a peep from them. There’s a good chance the consultant is working on the project, but there is also a chance the consultant is putting off the work until the last minute.

As a consultant, can you see how this learning leader might be a little anxious about what is happening? Do you want your client to feel anxious about your work?  

Scenario 2: You are a corporate learning manager who has given several eLearning courses to a consultant to develop. It’s been three weeks of the 12-week timeline, and you haven’t received anything yet from the consultant. This morning you received an invoice for 120 hours of work, but you have no idea what’s been done on the project. You immediately call the staffing company that supplied the consultant to question the invoice.

As a consultant, can you imagine how a client might react to a large bill with no proof of any work? Do you want your client to wonder if you’ve completed anything after three weeks 

A simple weekly status report will avoid nervous clients like the clients in the scenarios above.

Reason #2: Your client must report status to their next level.

The corporate learning leader you report to very likely has to submit some sort of update to their next level leader or to a central project manager. They could always ask you for your status when they need it, right? But imagine this leader has 10 direct reports and 4 contractors and is putting together updates for multiple projects. Do you think the leader appreciates chasing you down each time they need a status report?  

Consultants that provide a weekly status report using the client’s preferred format make the client’s life easier 

Reason #3: Things don’t always go as planned.

You have a great project. You’ve created a perfect timeline. You’ve notified all SMEs about the dates content is required and the deadlines for reviews. You are confident that everything is going to run according to plan….until it doesn’t.

How often have these problems happened to you on a project:

  • A critical SME ignores your meeting requests until well after the deadline.
  • A SME is 4 days late with their review of the content.
  • A SME reviews the final draft and makes major content changes.

If you are sending a weekly status report your leader will know about everything that might put the project at risk and can intercede. Clients much prefer to receive notice in a timely manner of missed deadlines.

Now let’s look at what happens with the consultant who waits until the deadline is missed to report the problems:

  1. The deadline is missed.
  2. The client looks bad to their boss.
  3. The consultant has seemingly valid excuses, but the client is unhappy.

In this scenario, the consultant could very likely be replaced on the project at the client’s request

Reason #4: It’s a great way to track of your own progress 

Many instructional design consultants balance multiple projects on a regular basis. I was once one of them when I worked as a consultant for ten years. One great way I was able to keep all my projects moving forward was by keeping a master status report document. Each Friday afternoon, I planned time on my calendar to:

  • Review what happened that week on every project.
  • Compare my progress against each timeline/project plan.
  • Update the status report document for each project.
  • Send each project status report to the appropriate manager.

A huge benefit to me was that I could see immediately if one of my projects was falling behind – and adjust. Following this systematic way to update my clients, I was asked back by my clients each time they needed an instructional design contractor.

Summary

The above four reasons should be motivation enough for you to create weekly status reports for your instructional design projects, but here is one more reason.

Our consultants that send regular status reports are usually requested to come back over and over by our clients. That is why we instruct every consultant to send a weekly status report.

If you are unfamiliar with status reports, here’s a quick guideline on what to send:

  • Week Ending:
  • Project Name / Number:
  • Work completed this week:
  • Work planned for next week:
  • Risks to the project:
  • Time billed this week:
  • Overall Status: (on time / at risk)

Have you experienced working with instructional design consultants who don’t communicate with you about the project? Would you like to work with consultants that provide weekly status reports? Let our industry expert Relationship Managers find the right consultant to start your project with confidence.

Are you an instructional design consultant looking for your next great project? Join our talent pool today.

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Leighanne Lankford

Leighanne Lankford lives life outside of the lines. From walking on fire to rappelling down buildings, she lives by the mantra, "playing it safe isn’t good enough." In her 30 years as a Learning and Development practitioner, thought-leader, and now business owner, Leighanne has always pushed boundaries and done things her way.
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Leighanne Lankford lives life outside of the lines. From walking on fire to rappelling down buildings, she lives by the mantra, “playing it safe isn’t good enough.” In her 30 years as a Learning and Development practitioner, thought-leader, and now business owner, Leighanne has always pushed boundaries and done things her way.

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