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Doing a review with senior management – presenting an overall picture of the project

Even though a team working on a software product tends to feel that it is doing an excellent job, there is the always the need for ensuring that the managers of the team and senior managers of the organization have an idea of the progress of the team, and whether everything is fine or whether there are issues. The amount of update that the senior managers of the organization (or rather the frequency) depends on how senior the manager is and how important the product is. For example, if you were to think about something like Photoshop (Adobe) or MS Project (Microsoft), any issue that could derail the schedule or any other major disturbance would be escalated upto the CEO, and you would also expect senior managers within the organizations to have a interest in how things are progressing, any problems, and so on.
There are many ways to send out status reports to the managers of the teams, and of a level higher than them. The most simple is to send out a weekly status report in a certain format, and send it to a list or location where as many people can read it as would be interested in finding out the status of the project. And of course, the manager of the team is well entitled to even find out status in hallways conversations, and through regular structured meetings. But what happens when senior managers of the organization have a wish to be updated with the status of the project. This would typically happen once or twice in a project, where the managers of the team prepare a presentation for the senior managers of the organization. What are some of the points to be noted in such a presentation:
– Typically, senior managers are not interested in knowing about the small issues you may be having. They have you to take care of such issues. What they are looking for is the issues or risks that could change the schedule / quality or feature set of the application, where the team is on such risks, mitigation plans. If the risks need some help from them, they would want such requests outlined loud and clear.
– At the start of every cycle, there would have been a list of features that have been approved. They would want to know whether there is any change in this feature set, and if there are changes, what is the impact of this on customers and partners, and whether the team has even done this kind of analysis
– They would want to know the defect charts that the team is looking at to see whether they are in a good condition or not, and even whether the team does comparison with the previous versions to see whether there are similarities or not.
– They would be looking to see the projected revenue for the ongoing years and also get an update on what has been the progress for the previous release; further, what are the plans for increasing revenue or correcting a revenue fall
– Typically, out of the senior managers, there would be some who have come up through the technical ranks, and for them, it always makes sense to prepare small subset of the presentation which talks about the technical architecture, improvements in the technical area, and growth of the team in terms of their technical capabilities
These are typically the sort of details you would present to a team of senior managers when they come in for a once in a release kind of presentation.

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