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. Whether you manage a big or small company, business reports must be incorporated to establish goals, track operations, and strategy, to get an in-depth view of the overall company state.
This is where the need to report all of these little and big changes arises: 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 report templates are the best help for that. They may gather financial, marketing and sales-related information, or more technical data; a business report sample will be your all-time assistance to adjust purchasing plans, staffing schedules, and more generally, communicating your ideas in the business environment. Knowing how to prepare and create one can reduce costs and time to decide on a relevant course of action. We will discuss report examples and templates you can use to create your own report, use its features in an interactive way and discover relevant inputs for your specific industry.
What Are Business Reports?
A business report is a set of data which can provide historical information related to a company’s operations, production, specific department’s insights, and create a base for future decision-making processes or factual insights needed to organize business functions.
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. While some reports will go into a more detailed approach into analyzing the functionality and strategies of a specific department, other examples of business reports will be more concentrated on the bigger picture of business management, for example, investor relations. That’s where the magic of these kinds of reports truly shines: no matter for which business goal you need it, their usage can be various and, at the same time, effective.
They can also be of many different types, but they all have one common trait: gathering data and 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. The more factual the report is, the clearer the data, which can then be interpreted in a cost-effective way, meaning, the reduction of time needed to analyze findings will be increased, and it will save countless of working hours in a specific organization or company. For example, a marketing report can reduce the time needed to analyze a specific campaign, while an HR report can provide insights into the recruiting process and evaluate, for example, why did the Cost per hire increase.
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, but also with a specific business report sample, so that you can see what kind of data you can incorporate.
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. As mentioned earlier, the clearer the data, the more cost-effective results will be, so keeping in mind the exact data to incorporate into this kind of report should be essential in deciding of what kind of report to generate. All industries have their specific sets of Key Performance Indicators and metrics, which should be considered when creating that kind of report. You can also generate an interdepartmental report or between businesses to compare industry values and see how your company stands on the market.
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. While exploring your data, with deeper insights generated with just a few clicks, the report doesn’t have to be dull, boring and lost in hundreds of pages or spreadsheets of data. Keeping a clean approach to generating a customized report for a department or whole company will bring more value than printing or searching through a spreadsheet. Imagine yourself in a meeting, with 200 pages of analysis from the last 5 years of business management. One participant asks you a specific question regarding your operational costs dating 3 years back. And you’re sitting there, trying to find that specific piece of information that can make or break your business meeting. With data analysis tools you cannot go wrong, all the information you need is generated with a click, within a click, within a click.
Why You Need Business Reports
These reports also enable data collection by documenting the progress you make. Through them, you have the 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. All of these benefits, if used correctly, will provide insights into the most valuable information a business can obtain: will I survive on the market? By creating that kind of a report, not only will you find your answer, but the whole organization can tackle deeper into specific insights that can bring operational value and control the overall expenditures. That being said, how to write this kind of report, with specific examples and templates, can provide building blocks to establish a successful business intelligence strategy. Let’s see this through a more detailed approach.
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 on the right path. It should be impartial, objective, with a planned presentation or dashboard reporting tool which enables an interactive flow of data and immediate access to every information needed to generate clear findings. Some good example of a business report you can find later in the article.
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 of your audience is important. As we said, a report usually assists in decision-making and addresses certain issues. You can state them at the beginning of the report. The more clear and specific the goal, the better will be the content. You won’t lose time on adjusting information when you present your purpose in a clear and well-defined manner.
- 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. Identifying Key Performance Indicators for a specific business, organizing, comparing and evaluating them on the needed level, can be one of the most important parts of creating this kind of report. Example of business report that shows how to extract and define your analysis can be found below in the article.
- 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 process. A best practice to present the insights you have 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 with the data exploration, which is a crucial part. When you click on a specific part of the dashboard, you can easily access your data in a more in-depth approach. Comparing your findings is also one of the features you can use if you are asking yourself what has changed in relation to a specific period. When you assess these datasets in just a few clicks on your monitor, the whole reporting process and measurement of your business strategy can be done in minutes, not days. Evaluating findings in today’s digital world has become one of the main focus of businesses wanting to stay competitive on the market. The faster you can do that, the more information you gain, the more successful in your actions you become.
Business Report Examples And Templates
Examples of business reports that we used in this article can be utilized in many different industries, the data can be customized based on the factual information of the specific department, organization, company or enterprise. Interdepartmental communication can then effectively utilize findings and the content can be shared with key stakeholders.
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
**click to enlarge**
This first business report 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 an 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. The different sets of visual representation of data can clearly point out specific trends or actions that need to be taken in order to stay on the financial track of a company. All your financial analysis can be integrated into a single visual. When the presentation becomes interactive, clicks will provide even deeper insights on your financial KPIs, findings and desired outcomes to make a company healthy in its financial operations. The importance of this dashboard lays within the fact that every finance manager can easily track and measure the whole financial overview of a specific company, while gaining insights into the most valuable KPIs and metrics. Empowering a steadfast and operation-sensitive plan is one of the most important goals a business can have, and finance is right in the middle of this process.
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
**click to enlarge**
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. This example business report provides just that: an exact overview of the most important findings and specific values in a particular time-frame.
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 can even see on this visual a clear set of data, so you don’t have to dig through a numerous amount of spreadsheets, but clearly see the specific development over time, the percentage gained or lost, ratios and returns on investments. Not to be limited just to these data, you can always customize and make a sample business report for your specific needs.
Visual management business report example
**click to enlarge**
The management KPIs presented above in a example of a business report focuses on the Revenue and Customer Overview seen through a specified quarter of a year. With just a click you can easily change your specific date range and make an overview of different months or years. When analyzing insights on a more specific level, you can easily spot if the revenue is approaching your target value, compare it to the previous year and see on how much of the target you still need to work on. The average number of your Revenue per Customer compared to your targets can also identify on a more specific level how much do you need to adjust your strategy based on your customers’ value. If you see your values have exceeded your goals, you can concentrate on the KPIs that haven’t yet reached your target achievement. On this specific example of business report, we have gained insights on how to present your management data, compare them and evaluate your findings to make better decisions.
This clear overview of data can set apart the success of your management strategy, since it is not possible to omit vital information. By gathering all your findings into one single visual, the information presented is clear and specific to the management’s needs. The best part of this example business report is seen through its interactivity: the more you click, the more data you can present and the more specific conclusions you can look for.
These business report templates that we have analyzed and presented in this article can be a roadmap to effectively create your own report, or customize your own data to tailor your needs and findings.
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!