Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Keeping Top Management Informed - Part 1

~ By Brad Egeland

Business people coming out of an elevator

It's a given - or it should be - that we keep our project clients and team well informed of project status, issues and next steps throughout the engagement. The status report and revised project schedule should be what drive the project on a weekly, if not daily, basis. What about the rest of the stakeholders? What about those at the top of our own organisation who may not know that much about our individual projects, but certainly care about their outcomes. On the very high visibility, or mission critical, or high-dollar projects, they probably care very much about the outcome of these projects.

Keeping Top Stakeholders Up-to-date on Project Status

How, when and where you keep your top management involved in your projects will likely depend on several key factors:

  • Your organisation's infrastructure
  • The make up, policies and processes of your Project Management Office (PMO) - if a PMO does exist
  • Your personal actions or preferences

The third option doesn't figure into the equation often. However, if you are in a new organisation or one that is new to structured project management, your own experiences, preferences and practices can greatly influence how you involve senior management in your projects.

Undoubtedly, your report to management is likely to be more formal but less detailed. Here, your concern is not with the details of execution but with whether the project will be completed on time and within budget. Any problems meeting those requirements should be discussed in the management progress report.

Even though your company may not require a progress report from you, it might be wise to suggest such a policy, notably for longer-term projects with large budgets that involve a large number of employees. Plus, if you are running a high-profile project, your senior management will want to know how things are going at key points in the project. Is it better to have them catch you off guard in the elevator, or is it better to give them a formal progress report proactively? The latter will make the best impression. For this type of progress report, budget and schedule reviews are essential—not to mention the need to assure yourself that your efforts are aimed toward the right objectives.

Your company may not require this of you, but I still think that it is a good idea to keep all stakeholders, at all levels, involved. You will need to be careful about how you create status updates for different levels of stakeholders, as giving them the wrong level of detail may drive them away. The last thing you want is for your hard work to end up in the trash.

In Part 2 of this two-part series, we will wrap up the discussion of keeping top management informed of your project's status by looking at things like what to report and how often to report it. We need their input and involvement from time to time, but they should not be overloaded with unnecessary information, so we will try to keep it simple.


Comments (4)

Topic: Keeping Top Management Informed - Part 1
4/5 (3)
Gravatar
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarEmpty Star
14th July 2014 3:03am
Bruce (Toronto) says...
It's an interesting idea to keep all stakeholders informed. Do you suggest sending all stakeholders the same update note or writing seperate ones for each stakeholder group (e.g. risk management vs legal department)?

Also, what is your rule of thumb for deciding what counts as a high-dollar value project? Do you relate that figure to the organization's sales revenue?
Gravatar
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarEmpty Star
24th July 2014 8:20am
Sanjiv Mitragotri (Mumbai) says...
That's a very pertinent question. It should be possible for a summary report highlighting the key points (achievements, progress update, risks, issues, budget and schedule variance etc) to be covered in a single report. This will serve the purpose for all the stakeholders. However, a separate report, containing details, is recommended for specific sets of stakeholders who are closely involved and monitoring the project.
Gravatar
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarEmpty Star
24th July 2014 1:14pm
Duncan (London) says...
I agree, you can make one report for all stakeholders, but keep it brief and to the point.
Gravatar
27th July 2014 12:19am
Brad Egeland says...
Bruce - The project value in comparison to others (making it high-dollar value) would depend on the types of projects being managed. Really it is more than just dollar value as it may also of particular importance to the organization. For example, I managed a project that wasn't very high value in terms of $$, but it was to the organization because it entered a different industry than they were used to servicing...so it got a lot of attention from everyone right up to the CEO who I found hanging around me a lot.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
Is it true or false that purple is a number?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Avoiding Project Management Pitfalls

Foot about to tread on a banana skin

Common pitfalls that projects experience and some tips to help make a project more successful and avoid the potential for chaos.

Taming MS Project

Gantt chart and plan

Microsoft Project can become a huge overhead, even for seasoned project managers. This article contains some tips and tricks that will help you tame the tool.

PMP vs. PRINCE2 Certificates

Senior lecturer in front of his class

What's the difference between the PMP and PRINCE2 certifications? Which one should I choose? Which one's better for my career?

Project Management Process Groups Explained

Project management process group icons on a curved line

Project management processes consist of five process groups and a control system used to apply knowledge and skills to a project. This article provides a breakdown of what's involved.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Aimee Windmiller-Wood commented on…
Top 10 Qualities of a Project Manager
- Thu 23 February 5:06am

Liam commented on…
High Anxiety: Managing Projects With Your Pants Down
- Fri 17 February 9:27pm

Daniela commented on…
Better Coaching Using the GROW Model
- Thu 2 February 3:21pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Help With My Project Management Dissertation https://t.co/EoVJgBqYum #projectsmart #pmot about 4 days ago

General Project Management • Prince2 Advice https://t.co/pP7mAnGTJP #projectsmart #pmot about 5 days ago

General Project Management • Re: Interview Help 30-60-90 Plan https://t.co/BNA7TTqz1I #projectsmart #pmot about 5 days ago