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Progress Reports

After your project is approved and you begin to work, you will provide updates of your work to various people, such as other team members, a supervisor, a client, or a funding body. As with any other technical document, progress reports have some general components that can be modified to meet the specific needs of the project or the audience. Always check to see what details you are required to include in your progress report.

When and why should I write a progress report?

For projects lasting more than a month, multiple reports may be required depending on the length of the project.

  • Progress reports are intended to reassure your audience that you are making progress and to update them on problems or potential shifts in anticipated outcomes.
  • In your courses, professors may require a progress report to make sure you are keeping up with the work required for a major project or essay.
  • In the work world, where money is involved, progress reports are often required before funds are released for the next stage of a project.

Components of progress reports

  1. Restate the purpose of the project
  2. Work completed
  3. Problems encountered
  4. Work to be completed
  5. Assessment and conclusion

Restate the purpose of the project

Team members, supervisors or funding bodies may have multiple projects on the go. It is important to briefly restate the purpose of your project to orientate the reader. Unless this is your first progress report, remind the reader of your progress at the time of the last report. This will show the progress of the project.


  • Use a formal tone and active voice in the progress report. Use first person (“I”) if you are the only person working on the report. Otherwise, use third person.
  • Even if a report is considered to be an informal one, you should always use professional language and avoid slang.

Always be precise in your wording.

Informal and vague: The progress of the project has been sluggish.

Better: The project is 30% finished.

Work completed

Describe the progress of your project in relation to the schedule that you presented in your proposal; what has been completed since the last report and what has been completed overall. Be specific and support your claims.

Vague: I have found a few articles on Ontario Tech University in the library. I have had some difficulty finding how they treat students who cheat on tests.

Better: I have found Ontario Tech University’s Academic Integrity guide in the Ontario Tech library database. However, it does not discuss cheating on tests. I have e-mailed the president of Ontario Tech for clarification and am awaiting a reply.

Problems encountered

All projects encounter some unexpected problems. You should explain the problems that have been successfully resolved. Any remaining issues and anticipated future problems must be outlined and solutions described. How will you keep the project on schedule in spite of these challenges? Describe how these problems will affect your schedule and the completion of the project.

Work to be completed

In this section, you describe the work remaining and how it will be completed. If you have encountered significant problems that have slowed your progress or if you are progressing better than expected, you may choose to create a "Plan of Action" for your remaining work with updated costs and scheduling.

Informal: I have not run into any problems during the course of this project, and I anticipate that I will not have much trouble meeting the deadline.

Better: The project has been running smoothly, and all deadlines will be met as scheduled.

Assessment and conclusion

Assess your work so far and draw conclusions for your reader. This may be the most important section of your progress report as you could lose your contract if you are over budget and/or behind schedule.