The Art of Report Writing
The importance of writing good reports
Reports are a part of everyday life in all business organizations. They vary from the mundane to the critical and play a crucial role in aiding a range of decisions and achieving goals. The need for reports stems from the fact that there need to be seamless and quick communication processes for organizational structures to be effective. Therefore, regardless of function or type of job one is involved with, report writing will be integral to our work lives.
Whether it is product analysis, sales performance, inventory status, feasibility studies, or financial reviews, good writing skills help us deliver clear, concise reports and aid in effective management decision-making. It is, therefore, an important skill to possess if you are someone aiming to be a successful manager.
Understanding the process of writing good reports
Writing a business report is usually a highly individualized process. The person tasked with writing the report exerts a significant influence on the way it turns out. Therefore, one size or style does not fit all accounts. They vary by objective, length, detail, and timing. However, one thing is sure- it is a vital activity and can have far-reaching consequences when crucial decisions are based on the contents of a report.
Let us take a quick look at some essential guidelines to delivering a good business report.
- Reports need clarity of purpose.
Like all tasks, creating reports need a clear definition of the objectives. A good understanding of the objectives will ensure that the report’s contents are aligned to the reasons for its need. Complete clarity of purpose also helps in drafting reports that are more focused and lead to productive conclusions. Conversely, poor reports are almost always the result of ambiguous objectives and a distinct lack of purpose.
- Reports are written for an audience.
The tone and manner of a report must always reflect the nature of the audience it is intended to reach. However insignificant or highly valuable, reports are always written for the express purpose of being read by others. If a message does not carefully cater to their understanding, then it has lost its fundamental purpose. Much like other modes of communication, reports need to consider the audience to be effective. For example, while regular business reports rarely call for descriptive writing, if the need arises for elaboration, every effort must be made to break the task into manageable bytes of information.
- Reports deal with verifiable information.
Business reports always deal with information, and therefore, creating one will involve researching facts, figures, and perspectives. While the objective of the report will help determine the relevancy of information required to support it, one must be cautious not to overload the report. Also, not all data needs to be collected firsthand; one can use information published by other sources as long as it is accurate, relevant, and the source is acknowledged. Finally, all assumptions must be validated and highlighted.
- Good reports are well designed.
Whether it is a power-point presentation at a meeting or a document emailed to intended recipients, report writing can be an excellent opportunity to showcase individual skills. Though most routine reports in organizations come pre-designed or in specified formats, writing a business report and doing it well are two very different things. Appropriate designs, the flow of content, and illustrations can all matter in enhancing the quality of a report.
- And finally, all good reports lead to clear conclusions.
A report remains a collection of facts and figures until it is sifted and mined for insights. Business reporting is all about making sense of information and, therefore, must lead to insights that aid in the decision-making process. Therefore, recommendations in good reports must always be backed by evidence and a cost-benefit analysis of possible outcomes.