Traxidy GYR Status Meeting

Best Use of Data Visualization and GYR on Project Status Reports

Picture of By: Steve McBroom, CEO,  Traxidy

By: Steve McBroom, CEO, Traxidy

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This blog will explain the use of data visualization and Green, Yellow and Red (GYR) reference in project status reports and dashboards and the key project success factors that helps to enhance communications and drive discussion on next best steps. 

The use of colors to reference the status of various aspects of reporting has been around for at least as long as there have been colored pens and color printers! Color adds tremendous meaning to communication as it can boost or reinforce a message and provide an impression that is almost universally understood.

With multiple pieces of information, data and statistics showing up on dashboards and status reports, the use of color helps to focus our attention. Using data visualization, colors can be used to reinforce information and help your message to stand out.  That’s what the Green Yellow Red (GYR) aspect of a project status report is supposed to do. The attention should be on anything yellow or red.

GYR Enhances Communication

Project communication plays a significant role in the success of any project and the use of GYR status reporting can enhance communication with your project team and the key stakeholders.

If you run a Project Management Office (PMO) or have Project Managers reporting to you, the overall project GYR status color showing for each project, can provide a simple and effective report. The status color can also visually highlight constraints or focus areas of the project that may need some in-depth discussion to ensure it continues along properly.

Using a combination of Green Yellow Red colors and the letters G, Y, and R (for color blindness) to distinguish data, provides a clear and easy way for a Project Manager to assess and communicate an aspect of the project work that either you, your team or the sponsor should be aware of.

Tailoring Project Constraints

At a minimum, the project status report should include the color for the overall project status and for the original project triple constraints of scope, time and cost. Tailor status updates to include additional areas of focus or constraints that are specific to your project including quality, resources, and risks. The best status reports will also allow the ability to easily include other areas of focus including procurement and technology for example.

Tailoring aims to maximize value, manage constraints, and improve performance by using “just enough” processes, methods, templates, and artifacts to achieve the desired outcome from the project.   

(Project Management Institute PMBOK Guide 7th Edition)

Each of the project constraints or focus areas, has the potential to impact the project plan and should be specifically monitored and reported on, as part of the project status report. This may require a “tailoring” of the project, regarding the proper set of project constraints to consider, and should be established in the earliest iterations of the project plan.

Using a GYR color status on more than just the project management triple constraints, can help to communicate and focus on aspects of the project that may need extra help, or that the Project Manager should monitor and report on regularly.

Additional Project Constraints and Focus Areas

Some additional project constraints and areas of consideration:

  • Benefits: Project benefits are arguably one of the key constraints and typically a high priority for sponsors or clients.
  • Resources: Resource availability and allocation is a key area for many projects that can easily cause concern.
  • Technology: The project may involve emerging technologies or complex systems. Do the subject matter experts have enough experience with the new technology involved in the project?
  • Procurement: The procurement process, the contracts, the logistics, the payment schedules, and more can limit the options in a project.
  • Communications: Are project meetings remote or in different time zones and in multiple languages? Is the planned level of sponsor engagement appropriate?
  • Risk: Perhaps the project has the potential to be carrying more risk than is normal for this type of project in this organization, and needs to be specifically reported.
Traxidy GYR Report

Definitions for Green, Yellow and Red (GYR)

The project status assessment as Green Yellow Red (GYR) is usually a subjective assessment originally made by the Project Manager. This assessment usually follows a certain set of rational expectations set by your organization, and can be supported and reinforced through early-stage reporting and discussions, with the PMO or other key stakeholders. It is critical that everyone involved with the project, is aware of the reasoning behind the assessment of status and color, and that it is consistently applied.

A suggested definition for the GYR is:

  • Green (G): The project or focus area is proceeding according to plan.
  • Yellow (Y): A plan for correction is in place with and executing with agreement from those involved.
  • Red (R): The plan of action, for correction to green, isn’t working or needs higher level management help and agreement to proceed.

Some organizations have enough history, expertise and key success factors in place that are monitored for each project so that the subjective, PM experience, is less a factor to drive the project status and color change. Here the system of information and project statistics, for example, the number of days of buffer used, percentage of cost over-run, number of high level risks, etc. will dictate the status and color code.

In some organizations, the rule may be, that if any of the individual time, scope or cost constraints are red, then the overall project status is also red. This is the concept of ‘One Red, All Red’.

Reporting the Project Status Trend

While showing the GYR for the overall project in any status meeting is important, just as important will be the knowledge of how often the project status has varied from green. A troubled project means the variance trends of scope, time and cost are outside the expected and acceptable levels for the organization or client.

In the project status report and project status meeting:

  • Always indicate the steps or next actions that are being taken to return the project or the constraints or focus areas, back to a green status.
  • Be prepared to back-up your status color with specific information that supports that status level and color, and reference any organizational standards.
Traxidy GYR Trend Chart

Two Critical Success Factors for Using GYR

In order to use the GYR method of status reporting successfully, there are two critical success factors to consider. These include trust and timing.

First, the Project Manager must feel comfortable changing in updating any aspect of the project from green, at any time. The PM can’t be left to feel that a change in color reflects badly on them. They need to trust that a change from green will be the start of a good and needed discussion, regarding next steps.

If the Project Manager thinks they will be punished for their assessment, based on the information they have, then chances are they will hesitate to make a change from green. There will be no discussion, or assistance through escalation, perhaps until there is a major project change at stake.

Second, the Project Manager needs to ensure they are assessing the situation in a timely manner and not waiting until the project is in trouble. A normal expectation, if a project is being controlled properly, would be for the status to move in steps from green to yellow, and not go directly to red. Project Managers need to use the GYR status to consistently report and communicate the overall project status as well as project constraints and focus areas, for overall project success.


The use of the data visualization and Green Yellow Red status colors across multiple aspects of a project, adds an enhanced level of communication to drive discussion on next steps, and to ensure a better level of understanding from a project status report. A common understanding of the status along with a project environment that encourages early discussion when the status changes, are also important. Better communication means a better chance for project success. 

Learn more about Traxidy, the easy-to-use Project Manager App purpose-built for individual Project Managers to help save time and increase project success. The personal project workspace makes it easier to track, manage, collaborate, and report on project action items, priorities, risks, changes, status updates, and more.

Traxidy’s easy-to-use workspace and project status data visualization makes it easy to clearly focus, view and report on Project Status and GYR trends. The app is super flexible, so Project Managers can easily track key constraints and any additional focus areas in the Constraints GYR area. Try it free today.

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