You should be familiar with the acronym of RAG by now. It stands for Red, Amber and Green. These reports are generally used by businesses for project evaluation. Most bosses use these colors to see where the problems lie and where the successes are. I have already spoken to you about why they are used and the downsides. Today, I want to speak to you about how to read the colors and their meanings.THE RED COLOR

This color indicates that senior management needs to look into the potential problems. The program isn’t ready yet. This is the time when management needs to maximize their efforts and minimize the damages. The red color can indicate one of the following

1) The company will need to spend more on the budget. This sometimes indicates an overspend. Usually the amount is significantly north of 10%.

2) Delays will be apparent and forthcoming. I’m not talking about delays for about a week or two. I’m speaking about delays for more then 4 weeks.

3) The quality of work is significantly south. This could mean more costs for workers and the time they spend.

4) Resources will be tapped out, sometimes beyond the scope of what the project manager can account for.

5) Stakeholders are going to be dissatisfied and unimpressed. Many of them might even give up attachments to the project. They see the signs and want out. Sometimes these are easy fixes, and sometimes they are harder. This will cause even more delays. This often times results in the project being abandoned. This will cause even more costs and damages to occur.


This means that senior management needs to keep a watchful eye, but not to a large extent. The red color is when you need to babysit the project. An amber color is usually not taken to this extreme.

1) The budget will be overspent, but only by 5% or a bit higher. It’s nothing to get that worried over. Worry, but don’t obsess about it.

2) Delays could happen. An delays might be more than two weeks, but nothing to drastic.

3) Quality will be affected, but not like the red color. There won’t be any delays due to the quality. This is the only difference.

4) Any problems with resources can be fixed by the project manager. This means that senior management resources won’t be tapped out. This is a good thing.

5) Any issues coming from the stakeholders can be fixed by the project manager. There is no need to go above them.


Senior management needs to keep an eye on the accuracy of the green, making sure it’s a true green. It’s at this point that everyone can more or less relax. You still want to keep an eye on things, but the project is good to go. This means the project manager can move forward, without any resistance.

1) The budget is on track, sometimes the project comes in under budget.

2) The project will be completed on time, if not before the period has expired.

3) The quality comes in at the expected levels, sometimes exceeding them. When the project exceeds the expected levels, this is the desired goal.

4) The resources are just fine. Sometimes the resources aren’t even used up all the way.

5) The investors are happy with everything that has happened. In some situations, they are willing to put up more money. Why? They know they will get a big return on their investment.

If you would like more information on the RAG reporting, go online.