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Highlight reports

Information needs to flow freely in project management, whether that be to the project manager or from them. One flow of information must be from the project manager to the Executive, and other senior interested parties. These updates are highlight reports.

A highlight report is exactly what it sounds like – a report that only mentions the highlights. It should be a brief document which (hopefully) mainly confirms that progress has been as expected. Where there have been variations from what is expected, you should mention that corrective action has been taken.

What you don’t want to do is to turn these reports into a running commentary on the project management. There is a temptation both to demonstrate that you are actually doing something, and also to cover your back a little by setting out everything that you have done over the week.

The truth is that your Executive really shouldn’t want this level of detail. You have been hired to do a job, to manage the project. If you start sending a full commentary of the project up to the Executive, of every little thing that has happened, of every small decision you have made, you are essentially making him also manage the project by proxy.

The Executive doesn’t need to know all the details. He needs to know you have the project under control. He needs to know if problems come up that you can’t solve. He needs to know if you have to go over tolerances. He doesn’t need to know that you are just doing your job, that you are just getting on with it.

So free up his time, and yours – just the highlights.

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