How to Write an Inception Report

A man is on a project site holding paper plans.
A man is on a project site holding paper plans. (Image: AID/a.collectionRF/amana images/Getty Images)

Organizations use inception reports to account for progress on particular projects or jobs after activity has begun. Components in an inception report vary depending on the type of project or job being evaluated. The authors of an inception report choose from general basic elements that are pertinent to include in the document. These can include an introduction, a section that updates progress, an explanation of the evaluation methodology, sections on compliance, financial details and further needs. The report can end with a summary evaluation and relevant annexes.

Introducing the Project

As the name implies, the "inception" report describes the progress made during a project launch. The introduction provides a description of the project and its purpose, and it can include the purpose of the inception evaluation and a copy of questions asked.


The report should explain the methodology it used. It should provide details about indicators used to measure success and how the data collected from the evaluation will be used. If questions are asked in the evaluation, include the sources of the data, such as project workers, specific documents and records.

Progress Update

The progress update section can follow the methodology explanation. Objectives and activities that are adhering to the schedule and those completed up to the date of the report are included in this section. Any divergence or modifications from the project schedule are also accounted for in the progress update section.

Compliance Details

If project activities must comply with regulations or organizational guidelines, provide details about compliance in a separate section. This includes any applicable federal, state or local requirements the project must meet.

Financial Details and Further Needs

Provide details about the financial management of the project, including an assessment of whether the project is staying within budget. The next section should outline what project managers need to continue and finish the project, such as materials, equipment, supplies, labor and additional funds. Explain how these needs affect future work on the project.


A concise evaluation of the project to date can serve as the summary section of the inception report. The summation can include recommendations for continued progress.


Terms of references used in the report, generally referred to in the body of the report as ToR, are defined in detail in an annex. Any pertinent documents pertaining to the project are included as annexes to the inception report.

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