Progress reports often use the RAG status definition as a visual cue to project performance. However, the efficacy of this tool is wholly dependent on the integrity of the project manager and the accuracy of the assigned RAG status.
An inappropriate RAG status can lead to issue avoidance and ultimately project failure. Its purpose is to show progress and make it clear when board intervention is needed.
RAG Status Definition
Project monitoring and control—see The Highlight Report—is about measuring progress, taking corrective action, and keeping stakeholders informed.
Therefore, RAG status should not be used to hide problems. Rather it is a way of seeking support and guidance from sponsor and senior stakeholders. Use a common RAG status definition to communicate to your stakeholders.
|Red||There are significant issues with the project.The project requires corrective action to meet business objectives. The issue cannot be handled solely by the project manager or project team.
One or more aspects of project viability—time, cost, scope—exceed tolerances set by the project board.
|The matter should be escalated to the project sponsor and project board immediately.|
|Amber||A problem has a negative effect on project performance but can be dealt with by the project manager or project delivery team.
Action is taken to resolve the problem or a decision made to watch the situation.One or more aspect of project viability—time, cost, scope—is at risk. However, the deviation from plan is within tolerances assigned to the project manager.
|The project board should be notified using a progress report or scheduled briefing with the sponsor.|
|Green||The project is performing to plan.All aspects of project viability are within tolerance. However, the project may be late or forecast to overspend.||No action needed.|
An Effective RAG Status Report
Use the RAG status definition wisely and report only on a few areas. For example, overall project progress, project schedule performance, budget, and scope. Many project managers or sponsors seek too much detail in a RAG status report and fail to see and deal with issues because they can’t see the wood for the trees.
What’s more, report on the progress trend. Compare the current status with an earlier period. For example show the RAG status for both this week and last week.
Have Your Say
Do you use the RAG status definition? How often do you prepare progress reports? Please join the discussion.
Creative Commons image courtesy Julie Gibson.