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An Exception Report is produced when a Stage Plan or Project Plan is forecast to exceed tolerance levels set. It is prepared by the Project Manager in order to inform the Project Board of the situation, and to offer options and recommendations for the way to proceed.

Advice The Exception Report is derived from the: Current plan and actuals; Issue Register, Risk Register and Quality Register; Highlight Reports (for stage/project-level deviations) or Checkpoint Reports (for team-level deviations) and Project Board advice of an external event that affects the project.

An Exception Report can take a number of formats, including as an Issue raised at a minuted progress review (physical meeting or conference call), as a document or email issued to the next-higher level of management or as an entry in a Project Management Tool. For urgent exceptions, it is recommended that the Exception Report is oral in the first instance, and then followed-up in the agreed format.

The following quality criteria should be observed:

  • The current plan must accurately show the status of time and cost performance
  • The reason(s) for the deviation must be stated, the exception clearly analysed, and any impacts assessed and fully described
  • Implications for the Business Case have been considered and the impact on the overall Project Plan has been calculated
  • Options are analysed (including any risks associated with them) and recommendations are made for the most appropriate way to proceed
  • The Exception Report is given in a timely and appropriate manner.

Exception report template

(An overview of the exception being reported)
(A description of the cause of a deviation from the current plan)
(What the implications are if the deviation is not addressed for; The project; Corporate or Programme Management)
(What are the options that are available to address the deviation and what would the effect of each option be on the Business Case, risks and tolerances)
(Of the available options, what is the recommendation, and why?)
(What can be learned from the exception, on this project or future projects)