At the very top level: the current forecast outturn cost, compared to current budget; the current forecast completion date, compared to current approved completion date; earned value status, dollars committed, number of unresolved issues in an aged table (e.g. unresolved for 2 weeks, 1 month, 2 months) and current value at risk.
Now for some detail.
The critical information for a CEO is how much will this cost and when will it be finished. This
would be compared to either the business case or the current approved state of the project.
Reports should have a graph of all previous forecasts to show trends.
A subsidiary interest would be the expected NPV of the project compared to the business case, or current approved NPV. For some CEOs this would be critical. Indeed, for all, it should be!
Earned value status is an obvious one; but if a formal EVM system is not used, it can be given an approximation: how much was estimated to be spent for a certain state of production, compared to how much was actually spent. If the contract has an estimated cash flow, this could be an input to tracking this.
However, all these are backwards looking. The CEO would need to have information about the project's future.
Two proxy indicators that could be reported are:
- dollars committed (that is, subject to contracts with suppliers and sub-contractors). Comparing these against cash flow projection can be used to assess the project productivity.
- aged tracking of issues from the issues log. The number of open issues over time would give an indication of the general project state and performance. If notified issues won't do it, then it could be decisions pending, or contractor claims unresolved (i.e. yet to be agreed, accepted or rejected).
An example of a similar report format is below, for illustration. It is also worth referring to the One Page Project Manager for another, more operational, approach.