8 Steps to Writing a Management Summary

A good management summary is also known as an executive summary is an important tool in your toolbox as a manager. It provides you with a concise summary of a decision paper, which is usually no longer than one page. This is why the management summary is also called a “one-pager”. This serves to give you a quick overview of the suggested alternatives.

Management Summary

The management summary is the summary of a decision proposal. As a rule, it is no longer than one page in length. With the management summary, a decision-maker should be able to quickly familiarize himself with a topic so that he can make a qualified decision. The business management summary focuses on the essential information, presents the options for action, and evaluates them. Most of the time, one of the options is recommended. All details are left out and can be looked up in the decision template.

Why Should You Write a Management Summary?

Use the executive summary to build a business case, support a position, or tell a story. After reading it, the reader should know how this topic affects him or how it benefits his work, his projects, or his company.

Various industries also use summaries as a means of communication, including healthcare, education, government, technology, real estate, finance, law, the nonprofit, and more. An executive summary does not only apply to one type of information, it appears in a variety of use cases, for example:

  • Business plans
  • Product launch plans
  • Project proposals
  • Market research reports
  • Environmental studies
  • Legal Notice
  • Polls on the college campus
  • Hospital planning and evaluation

What Do You Have to Pay Attention to When Creating?

First, the topic should be presented and its relevance clarified. This must be done in the title and in the first section!

In order to actually be a decision-making aid, in the end, the management summary must of course also come to a meaningful conclusion. Weigh up the various options and in the end, give a well-founded recommendation for action.

You should also openly explain the possible consequences of the options for action, such as the resulting income and costs, advantages and disadvantages, etc.

It is also helpful to expressly point out dates and important deadlines again. This is to ensure that decision-makers always keep this in the back of their minds so that the time planning of the project does not get mixed up.

Furthermore, the management summary should always be clearly formulated and clear – make sure to avoid long and incomprehensible sentences.

You should also use technical terms and visualizations sparingly. The former only makes sense if the addressees of the Management Summaries are familiar with them. Graphics or images should only be used where they can make the facts easier to understand.

A Maximum of Three Options for Action

As a manager, you can expect such a management summary to summarize all the information required for a qualified decision. The management summary must contain all relevant information so that you, the decision-maker, can quickly get an overview of all the important decision parameters in order to be able to make a qualified decision. The management summary concentrates on the essential information and must therefore not dwell on details. This is sometimes not easy and requires a high degree of abstraction combined with the analytical talent to separate the important from the unimportant and to aggregate them into an overall picture of the situation. Usually, one to a maximum of three options for action is suggested and evaluated as a result in the management summary.

Management Summaries in Projects

Management summaries are often required for decision-making in projects. It is about a change request to be evaluated or a specific contract award. A simple management summary can result in a single sentence as a recommendation for action, such as: “We recommend XYZ Systems for the delivery of ABC product, as the test product showed by far the best results in the quality check.” The subsequent 50-page appendix with all measurement and test protocols, which can only be understood by specialists, will certainly only work through you as a decision-maker in exceptional cases.

A management summary should include the following relevant points as a decision-making template, be structured accordingly, and include the following content. Use the following questions as a guide when creating a management summary.

Step 1: Content – What Is It About?

In the first section of the management summary, you as the relevant decision-maker should find out in the first sentence which area of ​​responsibility is involved. Is it about organizational development, a new product, a new sales channel, about minimizing damage in the event of a problem, about improving the infrastructure, etc.? As managers, you often have to switch between different areas of responsibility and get annoyed when you first have to laboriously identify what it is all about. So clarity with the content question: What is it about?

Step 2: Reasons – Why Does a Decision Need to Be Made?

Briefly explain why the topic is important and why a decision needs to be made. There can be a specific reason, opportunities and potentials can be obvious, risks can threaten, legal requirements make this necessary, defects must be remedied, customers or employees expect something – this is how the reasons for the decision can be presented. Possible examples: “There is a risk that the competitor will gain a significant lead with a new product” or “The acquisition of the XY company means that there is a very strong competitive situation in our product area Z”.

Step 3: Goals – What Goals Are Being Pursued?

State the main goals associated with the decision. What should be improved, optimized, saved, reduced, expanded, or achieved? Add in what time a goal should be achieved or for which area it applies. Also, state the general conditions that must be complied with. From these goals and framework conditions, the criteria are derived that are used in the following when evaluating the options for action.

You can formulate here, for example: “The aim of our approach is to oppose the competition with a product. This has to be in the break-eve in the first year so that we can quickly share market shares and avoid a decline in sales in our central market segment. “

Step 4: Clarity of Decision – Which Decision Has to Be Made?

Ideally, describe the decision to be made in just one sentence. That means, try to keep it as short as possible. You will succeed best if you formulate your proposal in the form of a decision to be made as a recommendation. Possible formulations for a decision to be made are, for example: “It has to be decided which of the three identified new sales channels should be used first” or “It has to be decided whether the contract should be awarded to the supplier rated as the best in the tendering process” or “A decision must be made as to which of the countermeasures identified is to be implemented”.

Step 5: Options – What Are the Options?

From now on it can be a little more detailed, i.e. win for each option presented and that it can be one or even two sentences. It is important that there are at least two options. Otherwise, there is nothing to decide. Even if there seems to be only one possibility, at least one must show what happens if everything goes on as before. As a result, the decision for the recommended procedure takes on the character of active control and no longer appears to the addressee as a forced reaction. Decision-makers don’t love to be pressured.

Options for action could be presented, here using the example with the competing product, for example as follows:

Option 1: We saturate the market with an intensely advertised discount campaign for our product XY so that the competition cannot achieve a significant market share with its product. At the same time, we are preparing the next version of this product or

Option 2: We enter into a joint venture with the competitor for joint further development of the product or

Option 3: We do nothing on the assumption that the competitor’s product is not competitive will be.

Step 6: Assessment – What Criteria Were Used to Assess These Options for Action?

In order to evaluate the various options and to be able to make a recommendation, criteria are required. Exactly these have to be named because in top management the actors have an overview of which standards are currently and possibly in the future to be observed. For example, have the effects of an upcoming merger been taken into account? Has an international legal opinion been obtained because the product is also to be placed on the Asian market? There can be many additional aspects that were not in the focus of the experts and may require a new analysis. And vice versa, previously central criteria may suddenly have become irrelevant because the corporate strategy has changed.

Criteria for the various options for action can be named very briefly, for example as follows: “The options mentioned were evaluated using the prescribed risk analysis and cost-benefit analysis. The current market forecasts of the professional associations were also taken into account. The effects of a possible relocation of production to Asia, as is currently being discussed in the Asia Outsourcing project, were not considered. “

Step 7: Consequences – What Are the Consequences of the Options?

Make it transparent which consequences are associated with the respective option for action. Name income, costs, advantages, disadvantages, opportunities, risks, strengths, weaknesses, improvements, or deteriorations for each individual option. Refer to the goals and criteria above. If necessary, share what happens if nothing is done.

Step 8: Recommendation – Which of These Options Is Recommended?

At the end of a management summary, there is a recommendation for one of the options and the reason for it. On the one hand, it is important that a clear recommendation is actually made and, on the other hand, that it is actually formulated as a recommendation and not as an instruction to the decision-maker.

The Recommendation Is the Decision Accelerator

The recommendation should also be formulated in such a way that the decision-maker can use it directly to formulate the decision to be taken, as well as for reports that he may have to write to his own superiors. Therefore, do not write the formulation in the subjunctive or as a subordinate clause (“… under the assumptions described, the best solution would be that …”), but directly as a separate main clause. Place the note that it is a recommendation and end it with a colon.

The bottom line is that a well-written management summary speeds up decision-making immensely.

Last but not the least, make sure you proofread and edit your finalized draft. Take help from professionals, peers, or mentors if you have any doubt or you are too busy or tired after the entire writing. There are a number of online assignment writing services available with experts on board who can help you with making your management summary a better version.