A RAG report (RAG rating, RAG status or Delivery Confidence Assessment) presents a status assessment using the traffic light colour designations; Red, Amber or Green. This gives a very visual and immediate way of identifying problem areas and potential problem areas.
The precise definition of different colour designations will vary between organisations, and so it is important that it is clearly set out, understood and used consistently. Typically, specific tasks, or components will be designated a colour status, where:
- Red indicates that primary objectives are at serious risk and remedial action is necessary.
- Amber indicates that it is possible the item will progress as planned but there is a problem and the objectives may be at risk. Action is being taken, or the problem is being monitored.
- Green indicates that the item is progressing as planned and that no action is necessary.
RAG reports can be used for a number of different purposes, including:
- Assessing the overall status of a project or portfolio of projects.
- Risk assessment.
- Assessing suppliers progress.
- Assessing resource capacity.
- Tracking third party dependencies.
- Post occupancy evaluations.
- Guiding designers about areas of the project requiring further development or change.
RAG reports are not an end in their own right, and are only effective if they are used as a way of instigating targeted action. Some organisations may adopt a reporting strategy that sets out who needs to be informed if an item is given an amber or red designation, and when items may need to be escalated.
RAG designations may need to be accompanied by additional information explaining the position, as ratings in isolation can be misleading or uninformative particularly in the early stages of projects, where red or amber designations may be given simply due to the level of development of the project and the inevitable uncertainty surrounding it. A red designation may not result in a failure as long as strategies are in place to move towards an amber and then green designation as the project progresses. Reports may include previous designations to give a sense of the direction of travel.
Some reports adopt an extended five-point traffic light system, including a green/amber and amber/red designation to give a finer degree of assessment, where:
- Amber/red indicates that there is serious doubt about whether the item will progress as planned and action is necessary.
- Green/amber indicates that the item is likely to progress as planned, but attention is necessary to ensure that risks do not develop into issues that might threaten the project objectives.
Blue is sometimes used to indicate that an item has been completed, or that responsibility has transferred to another organisation.
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