Executives are, perhaps, the busiest people in an organization or a company. They have a lot of things on their plates and every second is precious to them. It is important for them to know everything about the organization. However they do not have enough time to analyze all the details. That is why it is important to deliver an executive project report that is brief, but effectively communicates the precise status of an undertaking.
The key to this is to craft the report in a way that the executive will have just enough data for them to get a concrete grasp on where the project stands at that time.
- How to Write an Executive Summary: Questions and 5 Crucial Parts Part 1
- Executive Summary: Download Free Templates Part 2
- How to Make Project Status Reporting 10x Easier Part 3
- Additional Sources Part 4
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting to Craft an Executive Summary
When preparing an Executive Summary, be guided by the following:
- Who will read it? It is important to remember that the reader of the Executive Summary should be able to find all the necessary information they need to know about the project. There shouldn’t be a need to read all the other reports. Even if the executive does read all the reports and other documents pertaining to the project, the Executive Summary should stand out on its own.
- What is the main point? Try to come up with two to three sentences summarizing what the project is all about. It’s just like when someone asks you what the report is about and you try to answer the question in only a few sentences.
- What is the purpose of the project? Briefly discuss the purpose of the project—whether it is to launch a new campaign, develop a new policy, conduct a survey or research, or test a product, etc.
- If there are too many sections in other reports, which ones among those points are crucial to the understanding and appreciation of the project? Depending on their purpose, other types of project reports contain too many details, even if these are arranged into topics and subtopics. Some of these subjects or subtopics may not really be necessary if you only need to provide a summary of the project. Eliminate those which may not be needed immediately, and also any other information that will not affect the understanding and appreciation of the project if left out.
- What is the recommended course of action, if any? This part may be one of the most important points of the project and must also be highlighted in the Executive Summary. Briefly, but concisely, discuss the recommendations for the project based on its results and key findings.
- What are the benefits or consequences of this recommended courses of action? This is the other section that the readers will deem most valuable. This will enable decision makers to decide whether to accept the recommendations based on the project’s results and findings, or not. There is a limitation of how much can be discussed in an Executive Summary report. This means that it is important for the writer of the report to capture the essence of the entire project in a just few sentences without losing its value. In this section, the benefits that the organization will derive from the recommended courses of action, and its impacts, both positive and negative should be clear.
5 Crucial Parts of an Executive Summary
In two to three sentences, provide a brief description of the project, its purpose, and the main problem or issue it was supposed to resolve or address.
Provide a brief history of the project and cite a particular event which led to its conception. Do not forget to mention if the project is the first of its kind or a part of a series of projects.
It is also good to mention here if the project is carried out in partnership with other organizations or institutions, or if it has been funded by one.
Discuss what departments are involved, how they participate, what their contributions are—and how long it takes for completion. Give an account of the key challenges and the problems or issues encountered during the project’s implementation. Also, highlight how the team can resolve and address such issues.
Results and Conclusions
Provide a brief discussion of the results and key findings of the project and how the organization can use this information. Briefly, discuss how the project resolved the central problem or issue it was to address, and whether the project really provided a solution to the problem or issue at hand.
Briefly, explain how the findings and results will be translated into actual policy or strategy. If there will be changes as a consequence of the creation of a new policy or strategy, discuss how they will impact the organization, the resources needed, and other matters the shift will entail such as any new procedures, guidelines, or business directions.
Common Pitfalls in Writing an Executive Summary
- Though it still needs to be as comprehensive as possible, providing too many details defeats the purpose of an Executive Summary. Specific details belong to other types of project report.
- Using terms in the Executive Summary which are different from those employed in other reports about the same project is confusing. As much as possible, observe uniformity by using the same terms and concepts used in other reports.
- Mismatching contents will also generate confusion. The Executive Report should have the same information as other reports, and the major points of the rest of the reports should also be reflected in the Executive Summary.
Executive Project Report
An Executive Project Report should include what the team is doing at the time of the report, the most tangible result or output so far, the major risks associated with the project, and what the executive can do for the project (e.g. decisions to be made, approvals needed, interventions).
Here are some points to take note:
Concentrate on the most important details
A project manager may be proud about developments on the project he is handling and be over-enthusiastic when reporting them. This means that they give a blow-by-blow account of how each of the tasks was carried out. This might work in some other kinds of project report but not in an Executive Project report.
The report can center on these four major points—the current phase of the project, the status of the project, milestones achieved, and the target date of completion of the current phase of the project, or the project, as a whole.
Be straight to the point
It is a skill to be able to provide a complete and comprehensive project status report in just a few words. One way to do this is through the use of bullet points to convey the message of the report. Express each idea in short but informative sentences and, if possible, refrain from using adverbs and adjectives unless the report requires the use of such.
Do not forget about project milestones
There are important details about project milestones which need to be included in the status report. These details are enough to paint an image of how the project is progressing. Include the name of the milestone, the percentage of its completion, the planned and the actual start and finish dates. It is advisable to list the milestones or the tasks chronologically to avoid confusion.
Executive Summary: Free Download
Templates on ProsperForms:
How to Make Project Status Reporting 10x Easier
How to configure status reports on ProsperForms:
- Create a “Project Status Report” applet — customize our preset forms or easily create a new form in minutes.
- Setup reminders if you want your team members to receive automatic reminders when their reports are due.
- Configure who will submit reports by choosing the “Participants” tab.
Step 2: Users will click the “Open Submission Form” button to fill in and submit the report.
Data such as the report type, date and name will be added automatically.
As soon as a new status report is added, participants with “View” rights can view it in real time.
Step 3 (Optional): Generate a report and export it to PDF.
(Skip this step if you share status reports online and don’t print them.)
Click “Generate Report”.
- Make project reporting easier with auto-fill:
Fields such as date, name, report type, and formatting are inserted automatically by software.
- Consolidate reports automatically:
Reports created by your team members can be consolidated easily.
- Save time with auto-layout:
No need to spend hours in Word or Excel perfecting the report’s layout because it exports your updates into a beautifully crafted file with a couple of clicks.
- Peace of mind with auto-reminders:
No one forgets to fill in their status reports because ProsperForms automatically sends timely reminders according to the schedule you chose.
- Decrease time and effort spent on monthly, quarterly, and yearly reporting thanks to powerful filtering and export features.
- Quick sharing:
Status reports can be either
– exported to files and printed, or sent by email;
– shared with the manager online (in real time);
– optionally shared online as team-wide status reports, i.e., all team members share their progress with each other to spend less time on meetings.
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