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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
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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?
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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.
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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.
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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.

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