How to Write an Executive Summary For Primary Stakeholders

Posted by Gabrielle Guerrera on Thu, Jan 6, 2011

primary stakeholdersWelcome back, all!  I hope everyone had a restful and rejuvenating holiday.  Now that your projects are back in full swing here is something to consider:  How do you best communicate progress, successes, or problem points to primary stakeholders? Here are a few tips on managing communication in this regard.

The project monitoring process involves reporting accurate status of your project, measuring progress toward your target end goal and forecasting budget and schedule. Creating performance reports are a key part of your duties as project manager and will help you to keep a close eye on scope, schedule, cost, resources, quality, risk, etc. Information in each one of these categories help you do your job better in other areas of management.

First, it’s important to understand that your project's primary stakeholders require varying degrees of information. The business owner in charge of supervising end users may require much more frequent and detailed updates than a project sponsor. So how do you put together the best document for an executive?

As a general rule-of-thumb, executive summaries should be written for your audience with the assumption that they are not interested in overly-technical details. I always include the following to make sure sponsors have all they need to track portfolio progress and departmental budgets.

    1. Percentage of Budget Spent
      Having an accurate estimate of how far along a project is in spending the total allocated budget is important. It will help you as manager to target spending so that you can come in at or under budget at go-live.

    1. Percentage of Work Completed
      This figure compared to the dollars spent over total budget percentage in #1 helps executives accurately gauge the total health of your project. For example, a project that has completed 25% of work but that has spent 75% of their budget is spending too much and action should be taken to correct it.

    1. Next Major Milestones
      Sponsors will likely be keen to know upcoming outputs of your project. Has design or build been completed? Is testing soon to be finished? These updates give a high-level view of project progress and are required for all to keep an eye on your progress.

  1. Outstanding Issues
    Finally, major issues that could potentially affect project budget, contracts, or schedules should be communicated upward along with a clear plan for resolution. And don’t worry -- issues are not all bad and every project has them. An understanding of what it will take to manage them is much more important.

Issues Requiring Management Attention:  Adding a subsection that specifically highlights issues that require management attention is especially helpful to senior leadership.  In this section, add content that will bring attention to issues that cannot be resolved without management involvement. 


These are just a few items that you may want to consider including in an executive summary for your primary stakeholders. What other items does your firm’s senior management like to see in their status reports? Feel free to share!

Topics: Stakeholders