Write Effective Board Papers and Reports

The board requires brief insights that are on point. Before you write that board paper or brief, ask why write the brief? What is the best way to communicate it? And what kind of response do you want from the board?

Is the purpose of your board paper to inform, update or make a decision on the issue in question. When training company secretaries and executives in writing effective board papers and reports, we encourage them to spend more time understanding the purpose of the board paper. It is good practice to label the paper accordingly. For information and sector insights. Or For a decision. For status updates.

For information, board papers should be brief, a maximum of a page, with bullet points. People are busy, help them make the most of their time. Give the board member a heads-up by providing a summary of the papers as shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Board papers types.

 #Board paper name and number TypeOptions Cost implication Our recommendation   
1Approve Audited Accounts 2021, BP001For DecisionNo options.None. We pay auditors Ugx. Annually.xx
2Approve acquisition of new plant and financing type BP002For DecisionThree options – lease, buy or rent.Buy: US 100,000

Lease (operating lease): One-off:US $xx monthly rental: US $xx

Rent for 3 years; monthly US$xx.

Buy is recommended at US$100,000 in June 2022; with an IRR of xx%, NPV of USxx and a Payback period of xx years.
3Approval of Internal Audit Report q1, BP003For Decision Do options available No cost implications. Work to be delivered Approve the internal audit report
4Market analysisFor your InformationNoneNoneRead at leisure
 Indicate all decisions that need to be approved. Etc Etc Etc Etc

Arrange your board papers such that they follow the above order. For each board paper, keep it one page or two pages maximum. Focus on the big picture. The implications. And for each 1-page summary, provide the detailed information pack, which a members can read in case they need more insights. Use technology to upload all the relevant information.

Keep improving.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, Mr Strategy 2022. All rights reserved.

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