A situation probably familiar to many of you:

  • Corporate conglomerate needs update from country business units
  • Analyst creates PPT template with just headings: "key successes", "key issues", etc.
  • Template gets sent out, "fill in by next Tuesday (please), our review meeting is Friday"
  • Towards Thursday evening: pages and pages of dense slideuments start popping up in the inbox, (of course) not following the template, but Frankensteined (earlier post) from other presentations
  • Analysts cuts and pastes an overview document together (Friday 3AM) and sends it up the hierarchy as a status update.
If your goals is to provide a 20 minute update on the status in the business units the analyst might as well write the slideument herself. The writing of the slides will not take the time, it's getting the information, and internalizing it. An alternative scenario:
  • Analysts schedules 15 minute interviews with counter parts in the business units
  • In a phone call, the real story comes out.
  • Analysts write the summary slideument and sends it out for comments to the BUs
  • Analyst incorporates the changes and is now ready to answer any question senior management might have on the situation in the business units
This approach works for high level qualitative updates. For detailed financial information, a proper management reporting system needs to be put in place. It is easy to analyse and compare financial data mechanically across business units, hardly any phone calls are needed. To take the finger on what else is going on in the business, the good old human interaction cannot be eliminated.