What Project Information Do Executives Want?

Every PM strives to provide the executive team with useful data. Unfortunately, it isn’t always clear what kind of information an organization’s leadership group wants. Some executives have expressed an interest in being involved at each stage of a project’s lifecycle, while others prefer to be updated on the highlights and leave the details to someone else.

 

It may also be difficult to wrap your arms around all the different data points, metrics, forecasts, and reports that are available. Which datasets should be included in executive briefings given the scope and impact of the project?

 

If you’re struggling to put together information for your executive staff—whether it’s a one-time presentation or a summary that’s updated on a regular basis—consider these data points that often make the leadership team’s most-requested list.

 

An accounting of every project that is or will be consuming resources during the look-ahead period. It can be tremendously helpful to the executive team, especially during budget and performance review time, to be able to quickly scan through data that shows where resources will be dedicated—money, staff’s time, software licenses, production line capacity, or anything else that’s being used in support of a project.

 

The time period that makes the most sense will vary by organization and even by executive team member. Some leaders may want to see only the current quarter, while others might be interested in a more strategic view, such as project lists for the next 12 or 24 months. There may also be times when an even longer view—3 years or 5 years—would be needed, though PMs will want to work with their executive sponsors to compile those lists in a way that is useful without being overwhelming.

 

The current status of projects that are already underway. Few things can shake an executive’s confidence in the project team more than a lack of data on the health of active projects. Most leadership groups will be keen to understand where each project stands—which have recently launched, which are reaching important mid-effort milestones, and any that are nearing the home stretch.

 

This broad view is essential for those in the C-suite, since executives could be making commitments to customers or investors based on the latest project information provided by the team. Using status data that is incomplete or no longer accurate could lead to missed expectations and possibly lost sales or a drop in customer satisfaction.

 

Target start dates for on-deck projects. Companies often use a long-term, incremental approach when it comes to their overall project portfolio, with next month’s (or next year’s) efforts building on the results of the projects that came before. Because many of these projects roll up in support of broader, overarching strategic goals, it’s important that an executive can see how future activities are shaping up so they can manage their game plan accordingly.

The leadership team will primarily want to know that everything is on track in terms of start dates for the next phase of projects. They’re also likely to have questions about whether budgets have been developed and any long-lead approvals or other planning completed. If they’ve made commitments based on an on-deck project, has anything changed that may require a reset of those expectations? These future endeavors probably aren’t occupying much of the project team’s time—their focus is typically on current activities for the most part—but at the C-level, where forward-looking strategic goals and discussions are a priority, it’s crucial that PMs be able to give the executives the level of detail and oversight necessary to make sound business decisions.