I’m pretty confident that no one actually reads status reports on active projects. In the rare case someone actually takes the time to read them, they glance over the bullet points and store the physical (or digital) report in a folder – or more likely the trash can. They never look at them again. Or think about them. Or even want to think about them.
 
Many organizations opt for status presentations. Which by most people’s definitions are a waste of time. Why must I read the info on the report to you? Can’t you just read it yourself?  
 
While in-person meetings have the potential to boost compliance of reading or listening to a status report, there is another option. Meetings are superfluous and no one will take the time to read a status report. 
 
Perhaps people will listen to a status report instead? 
 
A 2016 Yale School of Management study found people can assess others’ emotions most accurately when communicating solely via voice—far better than written or computer-spoken words, and even better than video chatting. And if you’re in it for the speed alone, you can probably speak twice as fast as you can type. (Pierce, David. “Phone Calls Are Dead. Voice Chat Is the Future.” Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/phone-calls-are-dead-voice-chat-is-the-future-1531051200. 8 July 2018.)
 
Consider this:
 
  • Project leads create their standard status report that is stored in a shared repository like Box, SharePoint, Dropbox or a shared folder. 
  • Project leads record a 1-2 minute audio (or video) recording going over an executive-level summary, the key highlights of the project, upcoming milestones and any pertinent issues.
  • The recording is stored in the same repository. Business and technology leaders can simply listen to the short recording and go about their day.
  • No unnecessary meetings. Communication improves with voice instead of just reading a stale template. 
 
The technology exists to do this right this moment. Every smart phone in existence can record audio. Project leads are accustomed to giving updates on the state of their projects – the good ones can do it in under a minute. It is just a matter of changing perceptions and procedures.
 
The only downside of shifting to a voice-based status report is the discomfort of change. But business, technology and process always changes. The question is, will you control the change or will the change control you?