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Getting Started With Strategic & Operational Reports

Operational and strategic reporting by datapine

In our information-rich age, a business can accelerate its success by harnessing its organizational data in a way that is both efficient and value-driven.

To squeeze every last drop of value from your data, both in an operational and strategic sense, it’s important to leverage the right online reporting tool. When it comes to reporting, the daily running of your business, the plans and methods you formulate to improve the organization will steer your long-term success.

With this in mind, we are going to explore operational and strategic reporting. Here, we will consider the question ‘What are operational reports,’ delve deeper into strategic reports, and examine a host of best operational reporting analysis practices.

Let’s begin.

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What Is Operational Reporting?

Operational reporting is an effective, results-driven means of tracking, measuring and analyzing a business’s regular deliverables and metrics, usually on a daily, weekly, and sometimes monthly basis with the help of modern and professional BI reporting tools.

Serving low-level operational data, oftentimes in a shorter timeframe, operations reports offer invaluable insights into various logistical aspects relating to an organization’s activities across the board. By gaining access to highly-visual interactive insights, you can:

  • Make swift, informed decisions, often in real-time.
  • Save time and money by improving efficiency in a number of key operational areas  - departments as well as industries.
  • Spot emerging trends and formulate initiatives that will improve the day-to-day running of the business.
  • Foster internal cohesion and create an exponentially more operational internal infrastructure to ensure stable growth.

To put the power of operational reports into perspective, here’s one of our most efficient operational report examples for your browsing pleasure:

Operational report example: Warehouse KPI dashboard

An operational report example focused on the warehouse performance in the logistics industry.

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • On-Time Shipping
  • Order Accuracy
  • Warehousing Costs
  • Number of Shipments

Your warehouse is integral to the successful running of any business that deals with physical products, commodities, or stock. If you’re unable to manage your warehouse operations efficiently, you are likely to create organizational snags that will place unnecessary strain on your resources.

A prime example of real-time reporting, our warehouse KPI dashboard offers an instant overview of all core initiatives, allowing managers to troubleshoot issues and develop responsive strategies at a glance.

Working with logistics KPIs such as shipping times, shipping frequency, warehousing costs, and order accuracy, here, you will find a perfect storm of information—the kind of that will make every one of your warehouse operations seamless on a sustainable basis.

Now let's tackle strategic reports and their meaning in business.

What Is Strategic Reporting?

Strategic reporting is a highly effective means of setting, understanding, meeting and exceeding your organizational goals on a long-term basis by utilizing comprehensive strategic reports, usually developed by senior-level management and focused on high-level metrics.

By working with dynamic key performance indicators (KPIs) and interactive visual metrics, it’s possible to gain a wealth of insight that will empower you to create an invaluable data report and make vital long-term improvements across the board. In doing so, you will gain an all-important edge on the competition.

A strategy report serves up historical, present, and predictive data, empowering the user to formulate strategic plans that will ultimately:

  • Boost employee engagement or motivation.
  • Improve internal communication, cohesion, and collaboration.
  • Foster creativity and innovation.
  • Optimize all integral business departments on a sustainable basis, assisting organizational growth in the process.

As you can see, there are a wealth of benefits associated with a strategy report and/or strategic reporting. To help you understand them in a practical sense, here’s one of our most robust strategic report examples for your reference:

Strategic report example: Sales KPI dashboard

A strategy report example focused on high-level sales metrics such as revenue, profits, costs, incremental sales, accumulated revenue, up/cross-sell rates, etc.

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • Revenue per Sales Rep
  • Customer Churn Rate
  • Upsell & Cross-Sell Rates
  • Profit Margin per Sales Rep
  • Incremental Sales by Campaign

In many ways, sales are the lifeblood of your organization. If you’re unable to encourage a steady flow of sales and manage them strategically, your organization could descend into chaos, stunting your commercial progress in the process.

One of our most practical strategic report examples, our sales dashboard, allows you to protect and improve your bottom line by squeezing every drop of value from your consumer-based conversions and interactions.

Working with KPIs, including customer churn rate, revenue per sales rep, and incremental sales, this invaluable dashboard offers a panoramic view that will allow you to create powerful profit-boosting initiatives while improving individual as well as collective sales performance. A powerful tool for almost every sector or industry imaginable.

Exclusive Bonus Content: Take Advantage Of Our Free Summary! Download: A pocket-sized guide to operational and strategic reports!

Essential Types Of Operational Reports

We’ve explored the dynamics of operational reporting in business intelligence as well as the benefits of strategic dashboards, and now it’s time to glance at different types of these kinds of reports.

These 3 core types of reports offer all of the tools and insights required to boost your organization’s practical performance across all departments. Let’s start with real-time.

a) Real-time operational reporting

Real-time analytics serve up operational data in the moment. By accessing a mix of visualizations that provide insights as they happen, managers or operatives across departments can respond to trends as they unfold. In doing so, it’s possible to make informed decisions concerning issue management, departmental performance, and short-term operational strategy. Ultimately, real-time analytics makes businesses responsive, adaptable, and communicative, resulting in improved organizational output as well as profitability.

b) Monthly operational reporting

When it comes to reporting in business intelligence, analyzing your monthly activities is essential. By working with a monthly report, it’s possible to create a sense of fluency and cohesion throughout the business by looking at metrics aimed at the midterm. If you're an agency, you can also create a client dashboard and send it as a report each month to update stakeholders on relevant data. An integral part of any well-rounded organizational report strategy, a monthly report presents a valuable mix of trend-based data that facilitates short-term decision-making as well as long-term initiative formulation. Monthly operational reporting data is informative, detailed, and balanced, making these types of reports essential to the ongoing success of any organization.

c) Finance operational reporting

Last but certainly not least, we’re going to talk about the financial operational reports. This section is dedicated to finance as one of the most important parts of any business. A finance-based operational reporting tool drills down into every essential pocket of an organizations’ budget and expenditure. As such, it’s possible to not only maintain but also improve operations-based financial health over time, as we showed on our dashboard:

Financial KPI dashboard

A monthly finance operational reporting showing the working capital, cash conversion cycle, vendor payment error rate, budget variance, etc.

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • Working Capital
  • Quick Ratio / Acid Test
  • Cash Conversion Cycle
  • Vendor Payment Error Rate
  • Budget Variance

When it comes to this kind of reporting, covering all fiscal bases is critical. Working with a balanced mix of finance KPIs, this dynamic dashboard allows you to drill down into vital areas, including budget variance, working capital, vendor error rates, quick ratios, and cash conversion cycles. This comprehensive mix of data will allow you to improve your organization’s operational finances frequently, propelling your success in the process. By drilling down into bits and pieces of each metric displayed, you can monitor even your daily performance while having a clear view of the bigger financial picture and compare your results over time.

Hint: Here we can also state that this example can be used in strategic reporting as metrics can be viewed over a longer period of time.

How To Create Operational & Strategic Reports?

It’s clear that operational reporting software is very powerful — but only if you use it well. To help you build your operational reporting strategy on solid foundations, here is how to conduct analysis the right way.

1. Understand your aims & goals

Before you start your analysis journey, you must have a clear understanding of your core aims or goals. Do you want to cut down warehousing costs while boosting output? Do you want to improve your customer sales lifecycle? You get the picture. Sit down in a collaborative environment and establish your core goals. Doing so will give your reporting efforts direction.

2. Work with the right KPIs

Once you’ve established your key aims and goals, it’s important that you work with the best KPIs for the job. By working with a relevant mix of dynamic KPIs, you’ll ensure that you gain access to relevant data while getting an at-a-glance visualization of important metrics that you can use for benchmarking, decision-making, and troubleshooting. While there are numerous KPI examples you can pick from, you need to focus on the ones that will help you tell a proper story from your data.

3. Use customizable digital tools & dashboards

To ensure that your reporting analysis initiatives work for you, it’s essential that you work with customizable tools. By tailoring the designs to your specific needs, you will improve your analytics activities while emphasizing data storytelling, which will make your operational metrics all the more powerful. To help your customization efforts, here’s a dashboard ideas guide for your reading pleasure.

4. NSI: never stop improving

This is one of the most overlooked operational reporting requirements, but it’s important: to succeed at operational analytics, you need to adopt an NSI mindset. What is relevant today might not be tomorrow, so you should study your performance dashboard frequently, making tweaks and improvements where necessary. By doing this and updating your teammates on the changes you make, you will ensure your operational activities are optimized for success today, tomorrow, and long into the future.

“Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.” - Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web

Exclusive Bonus Content: Take Advantage Of Our Free Summary! Download: A pocket-sized guide to operational and strategic reports!

Now that we have presented the best operational report examples, tackled into strategic ones, and gave you tips on how to start, it's time to create your own reports, with powerful software that will ensure your time is productive and generates value for your company. Try datapine for a 14-day trial completely free!