How to Write Well-Prepared Board Decision Papers

Decision papers provide boards with the necessary information to interpret, shape and make the crucial decisions that will determine the future of a firm. However, when these papers are not properly prepared, they can be overwhelming in both detail and length, leading to poor decision-making.

The key to a winning board paper is to keep it short and concise. Directors generally have limited time to review your documents and they might not have the same information as you do. Therefore, it is important to avoid excessive operational details. Rather, you should rely on clear arguments, not long explanations and use only facts instead of opinions.

A well-designed decision document starts with the background of the issue. It helps directors understand your argument, focusing on the links to strategy and financial information. This structure is similar to a conventional story, and assists directors in understanding your point of view.

Finally, you must include an assessment of any potential risk that could affect the outcome of the decision and be sure to mention if there are any current issues related to the proposal. This is an essential component of the decision papers and will give directors the assurance that they’re reading material that is complete, valid and up-to date. Before the meeting, it’s best to have a discussion with the board members who will be going through the document to ensure all the information and points are taken into consideration. This will allow you to identify what needs to be addressed and if required, discuss possible outcomes or options with the board.

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