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Imagining life without the printed word is impossible. No matter what profession we are in, we need to use reports and documents frequently to reach important business goals. The usefulness of reports can’t be overstated. Thus, it is necessary for it to be well-researched and presented in an understandable manner. Writing a report is an art and benefits of accomplishing it, is like getting close to the completion of important business functions. The far-reaching consequences of business reports cannot be neglected, most of the crucial business decisions are based on it.
Writing a business report is indeed an individualized process. It is highly influenced by the audience, purpose, author and other related objectives. It is not right to say that there is an ideal way of writing a report as no one size fits all, however, it is certain that a well-researched and high-quality report can conclude major requirements.
Ways to write a Business Report
You brought a pen and paper or you have your computer on in front of you. And.., oh? How to begin with one? What to write in it? Usual and important questions that come up in mind, especially for those writing for the first time. Never mind. Relax. Here are a few different ways in which you can write an effective business report. Let’s read them:
1. Idea Generation
Reports based on the thoughts or idea are termed as a recommendation or justified report. These reports are written to suggest changes to a higher authority. It majorly includes summary and body. You need to highlight your suggested changes in the summary. Then, the body of the report focusses on the benefits, outcomes, risks, and costs linked with your suggestion. For example, you need better computing devices for your team to work longer and effectively, then you have to write this report.
2. Discuss Risks Involved
Talking about involved risks and solutions to handle them is a part of an investigative report. It deals with a particular course of action. It helps the company to counteract the expected problems. It must begin with an introduction, body and finally a conclusion. The introduction should be a summary of problems under investigation. Then, the body section explains the possible results and solutions from the investigation. Finally, the conclusion summarises it all. For example, if a company A wants to work with company B, but due to some financial concerns, company A is unsure about the partnership. Then, an investigative report is created.
3. Report to Governing Body
The report sent to the government to show accountability is called a compliance report. The government can be either city, state or federal government. It is written to prove your authenticity in righteously spending your money and conducting no illegal work to earn extra income. Similar to the previous ones, it also contains introduction, body, and conclusion.
4. Project Explanation
The report that’s main focus is to decide the feasibility of an idea on a specific project is termed as a feasibility report. The main sections of this report are summary and body. The summary begins with the proposed idea and body covers the related problems, benefits and long-term effects on the business growth. The most basic questions covered in this report are related to the project timelines, profitability and budget-friendliness.
5. Report through Study
The research studies report is presented after the completion of research on a specific problem. It is written to examine the issue deeply. The report must contain summary, introduction, types of methods used, outcomes, conclusion and finally recommendation(s).
6. Possibility of Business Growth
The periodic report is written after a fixed period to enhance the chances of business growth through modification in 3Ps: Products, Policies, and Processes. It is used to evaluate the gains, losses and efficiency rate of the employees and other resources.
7. Situation-Based Report
Most of the above report types are situation-based too, but in this point, the situation-based reports or situational reports specifically refer to the reporting of events, conference or tragedy. It starts with an introduction, then body and finally, conclusion. In the introduction, you need to identify the situations(events), explain it briefly and elaborate its detail in the body section and then, conclude it with the necessary and immediate actions that should be taken.
8. Present Multiple Solutions
The report in which you need to present all the possible solutions to a problem is called a yardstick report. It starts with an introduction, where you state the purpose, then the body, which elaborates the problem with potential solutions and finally conclusion where you reveal the best possible solution.
How to Write a Business Report?
If you are planning to begin with a business report, then these tips will surely be helpful for you. The following points discuss the sequences, in which you should write your report.
1. Statement of Purpose
A very obvious point to remember. Make sure to articulate your purpose so that you can revise your objectives closely. Those who already write a business report knows that it helps to maintain a thread of continuity. It is a very common failure that the report begins with a different purpose and ends up with something else. Read it(statement of purpose) multiple times so that your report is not hijacked by the huge amount of data, you need to show in your report.
2. Executive Summary
The executive summary is the first part of your report, though it is recommended to write it at the end. It summarises your conclusions, findings and key points of your report. You can compare it to the trailer of a movie.
Knowing your audience is the soul of every type of writing you do. Even if you write unique and high-quality content, it will not receive much appreciation because it doesn’t match the taste of the audience. There is generally no single group for whom the business report is written. It is better to divide the audience on the basis of expertise, hierarchy, and responsibility. Also, keep in mind what kind of role different users play in the creation of the report and their impact on the same.
4. Master Business English
Business English is a huge topic to study. If you face problems in understanding the business style of the English language, try to read business articles and note down the important terms. The best way to learn business English is to use it in your writing. There are several online courses and associations which can help you to understand business vocabulary and grammar. Don’t hesitate to go for it, many native English speakers attend these sessions to improve their professional vocabulary.
5. Gather Information
Do proper research in advance. Through this, I mean to carefully evaluate the objectives of the report and note down the specific information that needs to be collected. It is good to build a report with different sources, but make sure to refer to the original work to avoid any plagiarism. Use tables, charts, and diagrams to elaborate the report to the official hierarchies. You also need to explain your selected methodology to the audience.
The data collection can be done both internally as well as externally. For example, for the sales figure, you will need to contact the sales department to get the relevant facts and figures, which is an internal data. On the other hand, external data such as customer information can also be brought from the relevant departments.
6. Data Analysis
Wait! Here, I am not asking you to conduct some technical research and dive into the programming world to gather some useful data. No, not at all. The aim of the analysis is to bring sensible information out of the huge collection of data. It needs your special attention. If you need to include some assumptions, then highlight and validate them in advance. The process of analysis is result-driven. It helps to draw major outcomes on which most of the decisions are finalized.
The hardest part of the business report is not writing, but the measures adopted to bring a reliable conclusion with intact facts and solutions. Besides, data analysis, you also need to conduct market analysis to stay competitive with your counterparts.
7. Include Recommendations and Findings
The intention of writing a business report is to find out the methods, which can help in business growth through time and cost-effective methods. Make sure to highlight cost-benefit analysis and write recommendation with supporting facts. Some writers tend to get indulge in personal bias while sorting out the right recommendations, don’t do this. Think about business, not your personal grudges.
8. Use Visualization Techniques
Business reports are generally long and supposed to be read by already busy people. It is a necessary resource for their business growth, but still, they expect it to cover in no time. If possible, try to include graphs, charts, diagrams to display quantitative figures. You can also use colors to differentiate information. Make use of headings, sub-headings, bullets, numbers and boxed data. It enhances readability.
9. Design Format
It is impossible and also not recommended to finalize the report format in one go. Start with the outline. Your report is most probably going to be one of the types mentioned in the above section. Choose what is your purpose and thus, decide the format. Define sections - title, date, summary (executive summary), key data, scope, important analysis, and conclusion. Begin with the draft, include major points and don’t proofread it now. It may have errors. It is better to do it in the next iteration of drafts. There are several report templates available online that you can use such as klariti.com and QuickBooks.
10. Use Passive Voice
Generally, professionals recommend using active voice in most of the writing styles. But in the case of business report, it is advisable to make use of passive voice.
Active: The CTO needs to modify the current development process.
Passive: The current development process needs to be modified.
11. Use Compound nouns
The use of compound nouns helps you achieve a more professional tone. It makes the sentences short, precise and better to understand. For example, instead of writing “the satisfaction that our customers feel”, make use of “customer satisfaction.” Similarly, you can make use of “sales overheads” instead of writing “costs incurred in selling procedure”.
If you conducted heavy research for your report, then make sure to cite your sources through bibliography at the end of the report. Use the standard formatting preferred by your industry.
13. Proofread, Proofread and Proofread
Even though you are an experienced writer, still proofreading is necessary. While proofreading your report, do check if you are overusing some words or if your sentence is filled with unnecessary words. Avoid slang. If your report is written for a specific industry, it is appropriate to use technical terms and jargons. But don’t overuse it. Also, add the table of content, in the beginning, as a reference.
14. Finish it up with nice Packaging
Packaging attracts attention. Use a polished cover such as a folder, paper or a binder. The main reason for this is to generate curiosity with the audience.
That’s all with the possible tips you can use to write a Business Report. Read it once or multiple times. I hope it will help you with your essential tasks.
Halemane Muralikrishna from South India on March 15, 2020:
Hi Ms Prachi Sharma, your article on business report wiriting is exhaustive with field research and data collection also in view. This would help students and researchers. Thank you.