In your daily business, many different aspects and ‘activities’ are constantly changing – sales trends and volume, marketing performance metrics, warehouse operational shifts or inventory management changes. All these little alterations in your business activities are impacting the global well-being of your company, your warehouse, your restaurant or even your healthcare facility.
This is where the need to report all of these little and big changes arise: knowing what is happening in your business is key to keep it afloat, and be prepared to face any transformation or drastic shift. And business reports are the best help for that. They may gather financial, marketing and sales-related information, or more technical data; business reports will be your all-time assistance to adjust purchasing plans, staffing schedules, and more generally, communicating your ideas in the business environment.
What Are Business Reports?
According to Lesikar and Pettit, “A business report is an orderly, objective communication of factual information that serves some business purpose”. It organizes information for a specific business purpose.
They can be of many different type, but they all have one common trait: gathering data tracking the business activities related to something specific. From there, their author(s) will often perform an analysis and provide recommendations to the organizations. A good business report template presents an in-depth analysis where the writers show how they have interpreted their findings.
You can easily find a sample of business report on the internet, but not all of them fit your needs. Make sure, at any moment, that the report you want to create is accurate, objective and complete. It should be well-written, in a way that holds the reader’s attention and meets their expectations, with a clear structure. We will come back later in the article on how to write a good report.
These reports address specific issues and are often used when decisions need to be made. As author Alan Thomson says, “a business report conveys information to assist in business decision-making. [It] is the medium in which to present this information.”. They have several purposes: some record information to plan for the future, some record past information to understand a situation, and others present a solution to a business problem. They all are essential to business success, as they bring clarity to a complex analysis.
Working with an online dashboard tool to produce your reports is an incredible advantage for the easiness of use, the time saved but most importantly, the accuracy of the information you will use. As you work with real-time data, everything on your report will be up-to-date and the decisions you will take will be backed with the latest info. Such tool is a significant help when you need to explore your data and perform data analyses to extract actionable insights. It will deliver an important added-value to your report thanks to the visualization of your findings, bringing more clarity and comprehension to the analyses, which is their whole purpose.
Why You Need Business Reports
They are an integral part of managing a company. Every business units creates – or should create – a business report template to follow, for their own need but also for the company’s. It tracks the progress towards the various goals, controls the different expenses and resource allocations, to ultimately increase the revenue. These reports can also help to spot trends and patterns, giving an advantage when orientating the activities in the right direction, or adjusting them when abnormalities are identified. In other words, it helps to get insights into the problem and to overcome it.
These reports enable data collection by documenting the progress you make. Through them, you have means to compare different periods of time and activity, growth, etc. You can better see which products or services are more successful than others, which marketing campaign outperforms which other, and which markets or segments require more attention. Collecting all this data is indispensable – and by doing so, you build a paper trail of your past (or, namely, a data trail). They let people outside the company (like banks or investors) know about your activity and performance, and enable stakeholders to understand your organization’s tangible and intangible assets.
With these reports, you increase the understanding of risks and opportunities within your company. They accentuate the link between financial and non-financial performance: they streamline processes, reduce costs and improve efficiency. They help you compare your performance to other business units or other companies in the same sector. On a more specific level, a business report template can help you dig thoroughly into details, and discover correlations that would be overlooked otherwise.
How To Write A Business Report
Before starting writing your report, establish the goals and the audience. Knowing who you want to direct it to is key in its elaboration, from the tone, vocabulary/jargon you choose to the data you will focus on. A report to external stakeholders, to the CEOs or to the technical engineers’ team will be drastically different from one another.
Likewise, the scope varies according to the objective of the report. State beforehand the needs and goals, to direct you in the right path. It should be impartial, objective, with a planned presentation.
To help you write your report, let’s go over some step you should not miss.
- Determine and state the purpose: as we stated in the previous paragraph, defining your goals according to the needs. As we said, a report usually assists in decision-making and addresses certain issues. You can state them in the beginning of the report.
- Gather and organize the information: now that the purpose and scope are clearly defined, you can start gathering the data under any form needed that can address the issue. Thanks to that information you will carry out a data analysis to understand what lies beneath and to extract valuable insights. These findings need to be balanced and justifiable – what significance they have to the purpose of the report.
- Present your findings: explain how you uncovered them, and how you interpreted them that way. Answer to the original issue by detailing the action to take to overcome it, and provide recommendations leading to a better decision-making. A best practice to present the insights you drawn out are the use of business dashboards that communicate data visually in a very efficient way. A dashboard software like datapine’s can precisely answer that need, while at the same time help you for the data exploration, which is a crucial part.
Business Report Examples And Templates
Now that we know what they are, their purpose, and how to write them, let’s go over some concrete, real-world business report examples of visuals you will need to include in your reports.
Visual financial business report example
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This first example focuses on one of the most important and data-driven department of any company: finance. It gathers the most important financial KPIs a manager needs to have at his fingertips to make informed decision: Gross Profit Margin, Operational Expenses Ratio (OPEX), both Earning Before Interests (EBIT) and Net Profit margins, and the income statement. Next to these are the revenue evolution over a year compared to its target predefined, the annual evolution of operational expenses for various business departments as well as the evolution of the EBIT compared to its target.
Thanks to all this information displayed on a single dashboard, your report is greatly enhanced and backed with accurate information for you to make sound decisions. It becomes easier to implement a solid and operation-sensitive management plan.
Visual investors business report example
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As mentioned earlier, holding account of your activity, performance, and organization’s assets is important for people outside of the company to understand how it works. When these people are investors, it is all the more critical to have a clean and up-to-date report for them to know how successful is the company they invest in, and for you to increase your chances to have more funds.
Calculating and communicating operational KPIs about the overall company situation is what this investors’ relationship dashboard tries to focus on. You learn about the Return on Equity and Return on Asset, the Debt-Equity ratio, Working Capital ratio, but also see the evolution of a share price over time. Each of these metrics is crucial for a potential shareholder, and if they are not monitored on a regular basis and kept under control, it is easy to lose investors’ interest. Tracking them and visualizing them through a modern dashboard is a competitive advantage for your investors’ business report.
You now know what are business reports, how to structure and write them, and how they can benefit your business. Doing the right reporting and information delivery can have a significant impact on your organization and orientate its strategy better. For more examples of business reporting in a more specific, function-related way, you can read some of our popular articles on sales reports and marketing reports!
Don’t miss on that opportunity and start now with datapine’s online reporting software, and benefit from a free 14-day trial!