Reporting on your research project
The funders of your research, and the institution at which you are carrying out your research will both want to be informed at regular intervals about the progress of your project. Continuation of funding may be dependent on submitting required reports on time. Some funders apply financial and other penalties for late reports so project management is extremely important.
You will need to check both the internal reporting requirements of your institution and the external reporting requirements of your funder. Eg the funder may require annual financial and progress reports to be submitted but your institutional requirements may specify that you should update your line manager about progress every quarter (or vice versa).
Normally there will be a template for financial reporting provided. Depending on your institution financial reporting may be undertaken by the research office on your behalf; however, you should always remember that as Principal Investigator you have overall responsibility for the project, including its finances.
The final report
At the end of the project you will almost certainly have to produce a final expenditure statement and a final report. Your research office may complete the former for you, but you do have overall responsibility for the accuracy of both reports. You should therefore make sure that you cross check both statements to ensure that there are no inconsistencies, and that you have reported accurately on expenditure in the main report if you have discussed particular items. At this stage the project is almost over but you cannot relax quite yet - there will still be a few loose ends to tie up at project closure.
At the end of your project you will need to make sure that your records are complete and in order. It is possible that your project could be subject to audit at some stage in the following few years, and having a complete set of records at this stage could save a great deal of time later.