Status Reports 2.0

Rands In Repose strikes a chord:

To me, their are two major consumers who need Status Reports. The first consumers are the executives/overseers/managers. This is your senior management crowd who want a high level overview of where all that money is going. You want to keep this group in the loop because they sign the checks, they can be very good at discerning warning signs from seemingly vanilla Status Reports, and they also usually are big influencers on strategy… this is key when you want them on board when you’re proposing that two month slip to improve quality.

Due to the fact these folks see a lot of Stats Reports, there’s a requirement for the data to be somewhat normalized via a familiar template otherwise they’re going to get frustrated spending their time figuring out what information is being conveyed rather than acting on it.

The other major consumer for Status Reports is, well, everyone else in the company. Actually, let me rephrase, the other consumer is everyone else in the company who wants to read your status report.

What I do have is a rough knowledge of many of the emerging information management tools and I know there is a solution which:

– Makes it easy/attractive for larger organizations to share their information
– Provides a facility to publish scheduled structured reports to executive-types

Blogs could help in this, as Stuart Henshall points out:

Consider introducing your co-bloggers to blogging via e-mail. Give them the or equivalent address. Redirect all status reports or what you are trying to capture to the blog e-mail. What’s missing here is any capability to add categories. However now a project manager can do that easily converting the posts from drafts to publish status. The new participant can see the updates in the “blog” via the url. In fact confirmations could be posted back to them. Dependent on the blog… either subscribe your new bloggers or alternatively add NewsGator so their RSS feeds become active. It won’t be until you are swamped with posts or editing issues that the team needs to become more active and responsible.

Now we get multiple participants with the blogging manager / owner assigning categories and coaching on posts. In this process there is never anything to stop the new blogger from going direct to the authoring tool. In fact now’s the time to start the second blog in parallel that reports on the implementation, enables questions and answers. This is simply a place for learning about blogging. As it is an internal blog, combine it with other easy to navigate features and enable a quick log-in from the home page.

What’s different in this strategy? These initial blogs are more likely to be informative rather than linking blogs. Blogs involved in research and for gathering ideas and spreading memes are more likely to come later or be specific to a particular department. I’d not advocate the above for a research department, however using e-mail to move my reps from e-mail to blogs might well make sense. Similarly with marketing and HR.

One of the things we are missing in internal BLOG implementations, is the idea of managing up! We talk about it and see it as a grass roots phenomena. It’s why you will really need so few to change the work pattern. When a blog helps you personally manage better, flows more effective information from your department into buckets (categories) that are consistent with what your peers want then you are on the way to winning the blog vs e-mail challenge.

Using e-mail to initiate blogs starts with tools that people are already comfortable with. Appointing a manager (or two or three) that manage the initial flow helps to build categories and the “managing up” dashboards that blogging pages easily adapt to. Adding subscriptions and RSS keeps people in the loop and yet begins the recategorization process. You copy the blog not CC the world.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.