How to Write Well-Prepared Board Decision Papers

Decision papers provide boards with the information they need to understand, formulate and make the choices that mould a company’s future. When these documents are not created properly, they may be overwhelming in both details and length. This could result in poor decision-making.

The key to a successful board paper is to be short and succinct. Directors are limited in time to read documents, and may not have the same level of understanding as you. It is crucial to remove unnecessary operational details and use clear arguments rather than long explanations and stick to the facts, not opinions.

A good structure to a decision paper starts with the background of the issue that needs a decision, then leads directors through the discussion, including the relationship between strategy, risks and financial information. This structure is similar to a conventional story and helps directors understand your point of view.

Finally, you must include an assessment of any potential risks that could affect the outcome of the decision. You should also indicate if there are any existing issues in relation to the proposal. This section is a crucial element of the decision paper and gives directors the confidence that they are reading information that is correct, accurate and up-to date. Before the meeting it’s an ideal idea to hold a meeting with the board members who will be looking over the document to make sure all the information and points are taken into consideration. This will help you determine what information needs to be included and, if required discuss with the board members possible outcomes or options.