What is the value of this report or presentation?

What is the value of this report or presentation?

Project managers tend to spend lots of time preparing reports and presentations. Then they spend more time finessing them.

If the focus is on data, insights, and recommended action, that is time well spent and the expected value is good decisions.

If, however, the focus is on fonts, icons, and margins, spending hours on these may not be the most productive use of time. Sometimes, managers, upon seeing a slick slide deck, need to ask: how much time did you spend on this? And if the amount is overly high, even if it is outside of work hours, the best response could be, “I don’t need it to look so pretty.”

Engineering managers tend to be more pragmatic. Email a weekly report, in plain text, including the progress, risks and recommended actions of all your projects—and they are satisfied.

Somewhere in between plain text and professional marketing slides is what the rest of us prefer. As a manager, lower your expectations to what you need to make good decisions. Anything more than that is wasted capacity. As a PM, set reporting expectations with your manager. Often PMs want to produce slicker reports to boost their profile but managers care more about value.

Some organizations, to minimize time wasted on slides, have banned powerpoint altogether and only want to see dashboards from their reporting system. A little drastic perhaps, but it could save any company a lot of wasted time and capacity.