Friday, February 20, 2009

Your Guide to Concise Status Reports

First in the Essential Business Documents series

Reports communicate to people who need to know. First, determine what purpose the report serves. Get specifics about the assignment: who will use the information, and how it will be used. This will determine the focus of the report, guiding your research and analysis. Your focus should meet the needs of the target audience of the report: status information, predictive analysis, evaluation, or planned course of action.

· Is it a regular status report for a department or a status update on an ongoing project for the supervisors?
· Is it a decision-making tool to analyze possible courses of action?
· Is it a follow-up report on a project to evaluate whether standards were met?
· Is it a plan of action, stating details of tasks, responsibilities and timelines?

Since the status report is the heart of intra-office communications, this first in a series of four articles will show you how to create a successful progress or status report.

Status Reports: Write this type of report with the initial project or job assignments in front of you. Are the timelines and standards that were originally set being met? Is communication flowing properly? Have any new issues come up since the last report? Are there continuing issues that are unresolved? What are the expectations for the immediate future? Are additional resources of time, budget, staff or equipment needed to complete the project or continue the department’s work? How will budget cuts affect the department or project? What cost-cutting measures will be used to avoid layoffs?

Measuring current progress by the initial goals of the project is essential to any status report. Use a chart to express completion level of goals or timeline for greater clarity. A positive tone overall is always appropriate, even if there is bad news to deliver.

Bold headings and subheadings make it easy for the recipient to find his way through your report. Paragraph titles which may be useful for a Status Report include:

Project: Briefly describe the project, its parameters, requirements, timetable and budget.
Goals: Several goals may be involved; briefly state them here.
Timeline: Stages of the project, deadlines and projected completion date. Show meetings or appointments that were kept or cancelled.
Issues: Separate paragraphs for each major issue.
Budget: Required funding used and amounts still needed.
Staff: Who is involved in the project; kudos for anyone going beyond the call of duty is appropriate.
Summary: Overview of the essentials contained in the report. This may appear at the beginning or the end of the report.

Research for your report simply means communicating with the people involved in each of the above areas, evaluating the project as a whole, and bringing it all together.

See a sample Progress Report on our website.

If your time is limited and you would like assistance writing your report, WordBuilt offers both development and editing of business reports. Contact us for further information.


Watch for more in the WordBuilt series
Essential Business Documents

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How will professionally written materials increase profit?

When the economy is pushing your business to reduce costs, be aware of the waste of resources caused by poorly written materials, and consider using the services of a writing specialist. Enjoy these benefits when you work with professional writers:

1. In-house documents are concise and effective.
a. Project managers have clear goals in mind and a path for navigating pitfalls. Less waste of time and resources results in greater profit.
b. Job descriptions detail requirements and duties, making hiring easier and training more effective. Fewer hiring mistakes and more efficient training yields greater profit
c. Business plans clarify essentials. Update yours to reflect the changing business landscape. Clarity and certainty result in fewer missed opportunities and more effective management of risks.

2. Web copy expresses your mission and approach, while making it intuitive for customers to use your site. Web users return to your site more frequently, bookmark it, and send links to connections, resulting in more clientele.

3. Advertising content is geared for your target audience and planned to attract their loyalty. Successful ad copy brings you goodwill and customers, increasing the bottom line.

Your business communications are essential. Avoid poorly drafted documents that drag down profits. WordBuilt can edit your current materials or work with you through the entire development process.

Text to serve your business, academic or policy needs

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Projects, Presentations, Newsletters are a cinch!

Welcome to my blog. It's built out of words (just like my business). Although the mortar is electronic (rather than wood pulp), it still takes a craftsman to bring all the words together into an architecture appropriate to the purpose. Using words to bring clarity, resolution, encouragement and learning forms the foundation of our strategy. Thanks for coming on board with us at WordBuilt. Enjoy!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Economic Survival Kit

Economic Survival Kit

When our financial health hits a barrier in the road, causing us to skid out of control, how do we deal with the very real pain and injury? Having an Essential Survival Kit for tough economic cycles enables us to live a spiritually abundant life even when experiencing money problems. A kit must contain the following:

Vital relationships – Being linked to a caring community of friends and family is like a soothing ointment for the bruises of financial pain. Re-connect with old friends through the internet, phone calls, visits or letters. Join a church small group or club. People can help us sustain hope even when the situation looks bleak.

Emotional verve – Strong inner resources come from exposure to positive, life-enhancing books, films, music, art, hobbies, nature and friends. It’s like an immune system boost. Rid your world of brutality in films, angry music, sensational press and lurid sensuality; they drag us down, draining our ability to cope with life. A beautiful sunset and moonrise will happen tonight whether the stock market falls or rises. Find positive experiences to refresh your soul and renew your mind, and schedule them more often.

Spiritual alignment – Connection to the Creator of the universe will release His life and power for good in our lives. If you’re about to lose heart, see the original Heart Specialist for the transformation you crave. Receiving His forgiveness, seeking to know Him, and experiencing His plan through our lives, gives us a magnificent purpose beyond any temporary financial setbacks.

Financial reserves and levels – Tough times are more bearable if we have put aside resources for a rainy day. Regardless, the habit of economizing can be learned quickly when necessary. Face up to the need for a change of habits or lifestyle during financial stress; the sooner you take action to downsize your expectations, quicker the pressure is relieved. Challenge yourself to live at a less expensive level temporarily – and do it with the joy of a new accomplishment!

As in all of life, our perspective on our finances will expand or limit our choices. Material goods and wealth are a huge part of our lives, but they are not the only part. A spiritual dimension exists which allows us to see beyond the crisis of the moment, aligning our actions with long-term values. It’s easy to say “Don’t stress out; it’s just money;” but without deep spiritual values, materialistic priorities will derail us in these tough times. Focus on the spiritual dimensions of relationships, positive emotions and connection with God to heal the financial wounds. Affirming these positive spiritual values creates energy to solve short-term money issues.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fresh thinking for a new year

An open invitation to new experiences...

Like a child on his first visit to the seashore, with eyes, hands and soul open to drink in the new experience, we can move toward the coming year with excitement and hope: ready to explore, eager to shape the pliable sand as we please. We are on the edge of that epoch called a New Year. Confident expectation of being able to do positive good in this year yields the energy we need to face its challenges. What are the positive plans that can energize this New Year? Three shining values stand above the others.

1) Plan to grow - Like the concentric whorls on a seashell that grow larger year by year to accommodate the living creature inside, plan to grow your life. Expansion of heart, mind, skills and community involvement releases new energy. You choose which aspects of your life to grow and what direction to move toward; like that shelled creature, you are the architect of your home.

2) Live today for joy - Waves come in, waves go out, days come, days go. Be resolute about not falling into dull complacency from monotony. Notice instead the variations - and design your own joyful variations, like a child building sand castles. It is the very transience of the sand castles that brings delight to onlookers. I've watched strangers help my sons build a sea wall to protect their castles by the sea - holding onto joy in the middle of crisis is everybody's energy builder.

3) Link arms with like-minded people - Corals, those living creatures who have built the largest structures on our planet, are tiny organisms each linking to the next to form reefs. Individually, they are no larger than a chocolate chip (when feeding), but they build on the work of the previous generation and together have created unimaginable beauty. Our lives, our work, our interests, when linked with the effort of others, can create works of wonder.

Connecting with others, multiplying joy, and growing across many dimensions, will energize us and set a positive outlook for the New Year. Like the child at the end of his day on the seashore, sandy and tired but with a bucket of treasured shells and an internalized knowledge of waves, sand and saltwater creatures, may our experiences in 2008 bring us joy, results and relationships to treasure.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Architecture of Words

Words can be structured as a block wall: straight, mortared, precise. Or they can be tumbled together like a quickly piled wall of fieldstones. Or words can entice and delight, beckoning us inward, as a wall around a resort, rendered beautiful -- but whose purpose is to keep people out. Words give our thought boundaries, but they create architecture in the process, defining inside from outside, surface from depth, distinguishing atoms from galaxies in the mind.

Bricks can build a palace, a prison, or a house of worship. Is it strange that words may offer assumptions, lies or truth? Facts may be concealed by factoids; wrongs are justified by semantics, like filthy, smelly laundry hung skillfully on the clothesline.

Language gives us the power to manipulate thought. Stories, essays, articles lift our thoughts to ecstasy or drag our minds to the sewer. Words in a book of fiction generate such powerful images in the mind that the movie version never lives up to our own inner vision of the story.

Words, having potential, brought together on purpose, carefully chosen and aligned, create worlds in the minds of readers, just as our world was spoken into existence from the mind of God.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Pursuit of Happiness means a man's right to set his own goals, to choose his values, and achieve them. Ayn Rand