Keep it Simple, Stupid (3/3): Project Progress

In our third and final installment of our KISS series on project reporting, we’ll turn our attention to progress. Whether you call it percent complete, status, or progress, it’s something that’s top-of-mind for every project manager.

Progress reporting on a project works well at a high-level, but often will go too far into the weeds when PMs try to communicate the status of every single item to every single stakeholder. The answer lies in finding the right balance.

Use Graphics Over Text

In OnePager Pro, you can represent the progress of the tasks in your project by either displaying percent complete as text or by showing a graphical progress bar. In most cases, a graphical representation of percent complete is¬†going to do a better job. Additional text clutters the page and often doesn’t offer a significant advantage for comprehension.

In this example, the Project A swimlane shows progress with text, while the Project B swimlane shows a progress bar instead:

Label versus Bar

You can imagine how the text-based progress information for Project A will become excessive pretty quickly–especially as we move beyond a handful of tasks in our report. At the same time, the progress bars in Project B are pretty clean. Sure, you lose a little bit of detail, but how often are you going to care whether something is 49% or 50% complete?

Limit Text to Summaries

Feeling the urge for a little more detail than what a progress bar alone will deliver? You can always mix and match. For example, you might stick with progress bars for the majority of your project detail, but call out the percent complete value for project summary tasks, phases, key milestones, or deliverables:

Summary Labels


This way, if there is an item or two where you really need to know exactly where you are, you can communicate it without flooding your audience with unnecessary detail on everything else.

Thanks for keeping it simple (stupid?) with OnePager Pro. Other thoughts on how to maximize clarity without overburdening with detail? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

This entry was posted in Best Practices, Gantt Art, Project Reporting by Safford. Bookmark the permalink.

About Safford

Safford is a versatile technology professional with a solid history of empowering emerging growth companies in a broad array of industries. His employment history includes energy industry consulting at Quorum Software, Senior Manager of Client Services and Technical Sales at telecom service aggregator GetConnected, and Vice President of Strategic Partner Management at electronic payment processor IP Commerce. Prior to his tenure as OnePager's COO, Safford was the company's Vice President of Marketing and Alliances. Safford holds a BA in Psychology and management from Rice University.

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