Keeping everyone on the same page is essential to success when you’re working with a team. Status update emails are a simple tool for promoting transparency, ensuring accountability, and tracking progress toward the final outcome.
We’ll explain how to write a clear and effective status email and show you exactly what pieces of information to include in one.
What is a status update email?
A status update email is a professional message outlining a project’s current state. It explains the tasks that have been completed since the last update and the immediate steps that are to be taken next. It also calls out any roadblocks hindering progress and allows anyone involved to ask questions or get further information to advance the project.
Status update emails are typically short and to the point. They should be written for simplicity, with in-depth discussion reserved for a separate email or a live meeting.
Why it’s important to set up an emailed status update
Status update emails ensure that all team members are informed of the overall status of a shared assignment.
When different people tackle different parts of the work, it’s easy for information to become disjointed or lost in translation. This message is a simple way to regularly get all stakeholders on the same page while holding everyone accountable for progress.
Status update emails also create a paper trail of what was done on a project at what point in time. This can be helpful for staying on the designated timeline and referring back to in the future when working on similar assignments.
If your work is for a client, this formal update system is important for demonstrating your value and helping the client feel confident that the proper tasks are being accomplished in the appropriate time frame.
When should you send a status update email
On a regular schedule
If this is a long-term project or a regular update on your work generally, send the email at the same time and on the same day every week. This way, it becomes standard practice, and all recipients can routinely incorporate the information into their work for the week.
You can even create a status update template and save it in your ‘drafts’ folder to speed up the writing process each week.
Before or after a big milestone
A status update is a great place to celebrate wins and showcase noteworthy accomplishments. It’s also useful for reminding team members of important deadlines and other key project milestones.
Ahead of a meeting
If you have a regularly scheduled meeting that covers your scope of work, send the status update shortly beforehand so everyone has the pertinent information. You don’t have to waste time re-hashing details.
What to include in a status update email
A straightforward subject line
Keep it simple and reference the project directly, like ‘[Project name] update.’ This way, it’s easy to keep track of and refer back to as needed.
A high-level summary
Tell readers the need-to-know information immediately before going into greater detail. Remember that many people will receive the message on their phone and may only see the first few lines on the first pass.
A description of completed work
Show your progress by listing the major tasks accomplished since the last update. Bullet points work well for this.
Hurdles that are blocking progress
Are you waiting on anything from anyone to move forward? Experiencing a bottleneck that requires a change to the timeline? This message is a good place to call out any roadblocks.
A list of action items
Wrap up your message with an overview of what you’ll work on this week.
A professional closing
Invite recipients to contact you directly with questions and use a professional signoff like ‘sincerely’ or ‘best.’
What you should omit
- Lengthy descriptions. Don’t include huge paragraphs detailing the ins and outs of the project. Save longer descriptions for written reports that can be shared as an attachment.
- Complaints, grievances, etc. This isn’t where to call out individual team members or gripe about your workflows. Stick to just the facts and take it offline or into a separate email if an issue needs to be addressed in more detail.
Sample status update email for internal team
Good morning all,
Things are moving forward in accordance with the timeline for the Spicy Ranch Doritos project. Here are the key items accomplished this week:
- New packaging design submitted for client feedback
- Narrowed down the list of taglines to the top three
- Finalized budget for the launch event
We await an updated quote from the photographer to proceed with the promo video.
Action items for this week include:
- Secure Instagram influencers for a taste-test campaign
- Submit taglines to the client for feedback
- Develop social media copy for pre-launch posts
Thanks to all for your continued hard work in making this launch a success!
Sample status update for a client
I’m excited to report a major milestone on the Sunnyside project: the completion of the roof installation. Other progress this week includes:
- Plumbing install in two downstairs baths
- Siding installed on the east and south walls
The roof installation allows us to move forward on several other major items, which we’ll begin work on this week:
- Hanging, sanding, and priming drywall
- Downstairs flooring
As of today, we have used 61% of the budget, which aligns with where we would expect to be at this construction phase. As always, you can reach me or Susan with questions at any time at 255-2555.
Be warm but succinct and open the door to further questions or discussion as needed. Being consistent with your status updates will help ensure your project is completed on time, within budget, and according to all specifications.