Activity reports can vary depending on their organizational context and can sometimes be referred to as a work log, activity log, project progress log, status report log, and project update.
Typically, it’s the managers who request an activity report from their team; however, clients can also request them if they want to see how the team working on their project progress through their daily tasks. A team lead can also distribute them internally to get all team members on the same page regarding project progress or project obstacles.
What Is The Difference Between Activity Reports and Other Reports?
There are many types of reports during a project’s lifecycle, such as activity reports, client reports, and project reports. Since there may be overlap between them, it’s important to know how to differentiate them.
Activity reports are written by team members and include information on a project’s progress, a description of its actvitities, its milestones and obstacles, and its priority. Managers use activity reports to keep projects on track.
Client reports are reports that managers send to clients to bring them up to speed on the project's progress. They hold less detailed information than activity reports. Managers create client reports on a regular basis to keep clients in the loop.
A project report is more of a project business plan and includes a project’s short-term and long-term objectives.
Project reports contain information about a project’s financial, economic, production, and managerial aspects. They’re used by managers to estimate the costs of operation and calculate project profitability.
What Should Be Included in an Activity Report
Activity reports typically include the following data:
- The timeline of the project for which the activity report is created along with general project info
- A description of activities regarding project assignments.
- Notes, feelings, additional information
- The duration of the project
- The project’s priority (high, mid, low)
This info is meant to give general context about the project and includes team members assigned to the project and project status, i.e., the current stage in the project’s timeline and the estimated time of the project’s completion.
For example, “The project is just getting started,” “The project is midway through its lifecycle,” or “The project is in its final stages.”
The activity report includes completed, ongoing, and pending project tasks. The information in this section should relay what each individual team member is working on, so that project managers, CEOs, or clients can ask concise and specific questions regarding project progress based on the report.
Notes, Feelings, and Additional Info
The notes section is where team members write down any challenges they come across in the period that the activity report covers, as well as the solutions they come up with and the ways in which they believe these types of obstacles can be mitigated in the future.
Keeping managers and colleagues in the loop on project obstacles allows team members to request additional resources, such as extra time or additional workforce, to be able to finish the project.
Notable Features of Activity Reports in Time Tracking Software
Early activity reports were written manually on paper but the digital age has moved on from that approach as today, the most used activity reports are digital activity reports, activity report templates, or time tracking software with a built-in activity report feature.
In most cases, this feature is customizable to enable managers to filter information depending on a need-to-know basis, starting from the totals (work hours, budgeting, etc.) all the way to the most precise project-related information.
Allows users to choose between the preset data ranges or create a custom start and end date from the app calendar for their activity report.
Summing Up Totals
Managers can sum up the totals for current work hours or the current budget parameters by selecting and grouping time logs – e.g., summing up data by days, clients, team members, etc.
Managers can use filters to narrow down results about a specific project, client, employee, task, etc. The filtering feature is available for the columns that are included in the report. For more filtering options, most software allows users to add columns with more information.
Managers have the choice to edit, delete, or add time logs to the activity report software feature. Admin staff can also manage the logs from other users i.e., employees.
Managers can convert activity report data to charts, which allows them to visualize and review the charts for different projects, clients, tasks, and employees. Moreover, managers can select what data they want to include in the pie chart, such as total hours, billable hours, labor costs, or the total billable amount.
Additionally, managers can save their customized report style so they don’t have to adjust it every time they want to generate a report. For example, My Hours allows you to save the reports as a template in order to speed up the process for future projects.
Most time tracking software allows managers to export the reports they’ve created in PDF or XLS format.
For example, with My Hours, managers can send the activity report with custom comments to a list of selected client emails both as a PDF and XLS file directly from the software. My Hours lets them set reminders to send the activity reports on a regular basis. Moreover, clients can download activity reports in PDF, XLS, and CSV format.