My understanding is that this Summary, along with the majority of the Business Case, should be developed by the Executive role.

I have been requested to produce an Executive Summary since I will manage the project but I lack the understanding of what the project is actually trying to achieve. The Executive Manager in this case has set up this project as a Business Process Improvement by using SharePoint but hasn't given me any direction so I cannot determine when we will be able to consider that the improvement has been reached.

I am not sure if this Executive Summary is meant to be part of our Business Case or if it's just a document to inform Senior Management of our plans. Anyhow I would like to make sure whose responsibility is this to approach the right person.

As PM have you ever had to produce these Summaries? What other roles' support have you used?


Executive Summary has to be developed by business executives (CEO, COO, etc.) using the information provided and prepared by VP/Marketing, VP/Engineering, VP/anything. A project manager of the future project is not involved at this stage. Because the project is not yet authorized and Project Charter is not yet baselined (the PM simply can't start spending resources).

On the other hand, a Project Manager may take a participation in a preliminary/preparation project, which will produce (for example) cost-benefit analysis of the future project, or marketing plan, or preliminary technical solution.

Again, there are two projects: 1) create the Executive Summary, 2) implement it.

  • Do you have a reference link to back up the information in the first paragraph? This seems to conflict with the other answers. Are you sure you didn't mean to say "Executive Summary has to be developed for business executives..."?
    – jmort253
    May 5 '11 at 4:15
  • 3
    Not sure if it's the same thing exactly, but the PRINCE2 manual explicitly states that "In PRINCE2 the Executive is responsible for the Business Case. It does not necessarily mean that the Executive writes the Business Case, merely that the Executive is responsible for ensuring that the Business Case is written and approved". It goes on to say that the development of the Business case can be delegated to a Business Analyst or even the PM. Does this help?
    – Iain9688
    May 5 '11 at 20:17
  • @Iain9688 and @yegor256 - Thank you for both your answer and comment which actually match with my understanding of the process. Unfortunately, from what I am reading in other responses there is no consensus and this might be also the view of our Executive Manager. As suggested I will try to work with him to produce this documentation.
    – M0N4K0
    May 6 '11 at 8:13
  • Anyone have any references they can include backing this up? With conflicting answers, how do I know what is right and what is wrong, or how do I know that both answers may be right?
    – jmort253
    May 8 '11 at 21:59
  • @jmort253 - please see a reference document that can help to support this answer which I have accepted as correct; prince2-ug.be/training-man
    – M0N4K0
    May 27 '11 at 10:05

As Adam said above "it enables someone with limited time (e.g. an executive) to understand the key points of the work without having to read the entire paper"

It is the PM's responsibility to create the Executive Summary (before the Business Cases) with the assistance of the Executive Sponsor. It is the document that will summarize:

  • Summary
  • Scope
  • Functionality
  • Estimated Expense
  • Dependencies

As the PM, You can achieve this by setting a meeting with the Executive Sponsor and understand what he/she is looking to achieve. The Executive Summary will be written by you but the accountablilty will be from the Executive Sponsor.

To answer your last question, I use a ES for any project that will take a developer/engineering more than 5+ days to complete.


I've heard of the term executive summary but always in reference to a section in a document or paper, where it serves as a short--yet comprehensive--overview of the entire document. It is typically no less than a page but often, especially for very long documents, it can be an entire chapter. Executive Summaries are common in long government reports, where I assume the intent is for someone like a Congressman to only read the summary.

In this context, the purpose of the Executive summary is all in the name; it enables someone with limited time (e.g. an executive) to understand the key points of the work without having to read the entire paper. Absent this context, the term Executive Summary has no meaning to me, and I can't see how one would be written by anyone but the author.

If the term Executive Summary has another meaning, please clarify.


Since it is part of the project, the Project Manager is responsible for ensuring that the necessary document exists - the doesn't necessarily mean he has to create this particular document. Overall, the executive summary should come from the same process that created the project charter, which means that it should come from the sponsors and key stakeholders. If it does not get produced that way, and the document is considered important, the PM should figure out the best way to get one produced.

In my projects, the executive summary / one liner description does get produced in the early charter-creation stages. I end up writing them, but I don't necessarily "own" them.

  • I'm finding this information on the executive summary confusing. Do you have a link that describes the PM's role in this? I think it's okay for us to have differing answers as long as we can back them up with links and references.
    – jmort253
    May 8 '11 at 23:04
  • @jmort253 - I don't think an "executive summary" document is a part of any PMI/PMBoK description. But, if the organization had decided that document needs to exist, that makes it part of the project. For example, At one of my clients (who got burned by a private data leak) all projects needed to have an approval from legal that the project complied with the privacy rules. That makes it part of a project even though it doesn't exist in most project management books
    – SBWorks
    May 10 '11 at 3:25

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