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Getting Started With Strategic & Operational Reports

Operational and strategic reporting by datapine

In the Age of Information, 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 (on both a daily, weekly, and monthly basis), the plans and methods you formulate to optimize your organization will steer your long-term success.

To guide your business to operations reporting success, 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 time frame, 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.

When To Use Operational Reports?

Now that you’re up to speed with the fundamental concepts of operational reports, we’re going to consider when to use an operations report.

In terms of data analysis, you should use operational reports to track, benchmark, and improve your processes, as well as performance, in ongoing operational areas of the business. These areas include functions such as warehousing & fulfillment, manufacturing efficiency, and real-time (or short-term) marketing or sales campaign trends or results.

When you’re working with an operation report, it’s important to consider why you’re using it based on the outcomes and objectives you’re looking to achieve. By doing so, you’ll be able to understand precisely when operational reporting will offer your business the most value.

By working with professional business dashboards containing a cohesive mix of real-time or daily insights as well as weekly and monthly data, you will streamline your operational performance across the board while improving internal communications significantly. In that sense, you should probably ask yourself the question, “When shouldn't I use operational reporting tools?”

a) Real-time operational reporting

Real-time analytics serve up operational data at 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.

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Operational Report Templates & Examples

We know what operational reporting is used for and when to use it, so now, we’re going to look at three definitive types of operations report templates. By exploring the essential components of these operational reports examples, we will put the power of operational reports into perspective.

Operations report template: warehouse KPI dashboard

An operational report 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 that will make every one of your warehouse operations seamless on a sustainable basis.

Operational report template: production dashboard

Manufacturing operational report displaying main manufacturing KPIs to keep the pulse of your factory

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • Production Volume
  • Production Downtime
  • Production Cost

This dynamic operational report template offers an accessible insight into your business’s capacity to produce its assets or products. Armed with a perfect storm of visual information, you can drill down into your product volumes, downtimes, and overall costs in one logical location.

One of the key features of this manufacturing dashboard is its ability to break down the performance and output of individual pieces of equipment or machinery. By gaining an accurate overview of the best-performing machines by production volume, you can prioritize your maintenance and upgrade efforts accurately, improving productivity and avoiding unnecessary expenditure in the process.

Not only does this operation report sample offer valuable real-time production information, but it also serves as an excellent performance comparison tool, empowering scaling manufacturers to optimize every aspect of their production processes for maximum output and financial efficiency.

Operation report sample: marketing KPI dashboard

Operation report sample of a marketing performance dashboard displaying relevant campaign metrics

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
  • Cost-per-Click (CPC)
  • Cost-per-Acquisition (CPA)

The next in our list of dynamic operational reporting examples was created with a marketing dashboard tool and it focuses on all important aspects of your campaigns. 

An essential operational report sample for any modern business looking to boost brand awareness, improve engagement, and accelerate business growth, our marketing performance dashboard offers a detailed breakdown of specific campaign spend (benchmarked against specific campaign budgets) while providing insights on impressions, clicks, and acquisition costs.

By working with this highly visual operations management report, you can make continual strategic tweaks to your campaigns and communication across channels. This will help you reduce ad spend, improve engagement, and, ultimately, earn you a consistently healthy return on marketing investment (ROMI).

Marketing is an all-encompassing area of business, and as such, making the biggest possible impact while preserving your budget will place you on a path to continual growth, success, and profitability. This is a report that will help you do just that.

Operational reporting example: financial KPI dashboard

Last but certainly not least, we’re going to talk about the financial operations report. 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 will see in our dashboard below.

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.

Now that we’ve looked at prime operation reports examples, it’s time to explore the importance of strategic reporting. Let’s start by considering the essential concepts and meaning of a strategy report.

Your Chance: Want to create powerful strategic & operational reports?
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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 over 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.
  • Save time and unnecessary investment through intelligent insight and benchmarking.
  • Foster creativity and innovation.
  • Optimize all integral business departments on a sustainable basis, assisting organizational growth in the process.

When To Use Strategy Reports?

So, when should you use strategic reporting to your advantage? Rather than interacting with a strategy report on an hourly or daily level, these powerful business intelligence solutions are typically used by senior decision-makers or executives on a weekly, monthly, or sometimes quarterly basis.

In terms of analysis, strategic-style reports present KPIs and metrics designed for long-term trend identification and performance comparison. With these reports, you can be broad and look at metrics on a departmental or campaign levelit’s also possible to examine metrics (past, present, and predictive) that drill down into a specific strategic area or function. 

For instance, if you’re a healthcare institution, you might use a strategic patient dashboard to compare patient admission rates across two different years. Doing so will empower you to spot any emerging peaks and troughs in admission rates, get to the root of the cause, and formulate initiatives to ensure you have the resources, as well as the staff, to provide efficient patient care. Additionally, strategy reports are often used as a definitive source of insight at regular departmental or board meetings, as well as initiatives surrounding new business campaigns, processes, and initiatives.

While a strategic report template may not be used as frequently as an operational report template, it’s equally as vital to your business’s success. By working with strategy-based reports on a weekly and monthly basis, at high-level meetings (both external and internal), and when formulating new campaigns or ideas, you will benefit from a wealth of business-boosting insight. 

With strategy-based reporting, consistency is key, which means that leveraging your reports at key times on an ongoing basis is essential. 

Strategic Report Examples & Templates

There is clearly a wealth of benefits associated with a strategy report and/or strategic reporting. To help you understand their business-boosting power in a practical context, here are three 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.

Strategy report example: management KPI dashboard

Strategy report example of a management executive dashboard showing the important KPIs to C-level executives

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • Customer Acquisition Costs
  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Sales Target

When it comes to smart, swift, and confident senior decision-making, being armed with the tools is essential. This strategic report in the form of a professional management dashboard certainly delivers.

With KPIs that provide an accurate high-level snapshot of your business’s performance, you can drill down into your customer acquisition costs, customer lifetime value, and specific sales targets.

Balanced and visually digestible, this most powerful of reporting strategy examples allows senior decision-makers to get a firm grip of the actual revenue generated over specific periods while gaining a better understanding of their cross-selling and upselling strategies. The report also provides invaluable information on how much you’re spending on gaining new customers, as well as whether your efforts are working to keep them. It’s a perfect storm of information that will empower you to make the right tweaks, updates, and changes to your most essential strategies at the right time.

Strategic report example: CFO dashboard

Strategic report example: a CFO dashboard containing relevant financial metrics

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • Payroll Headcount Ratio
  • Economic Value Added (EVA)
  • Berry Ratio
  • Employee Satisfaction

This financial reporting dashboard is a strategy report example that provides a potent mix of visualizations and metrics designed to aid financial growth, health, and efficiency.

Drilling down into four primary financial areas, our CFO-centric strategic report example offers a wealth of insight surrounding costs, sales targets, gross profit, and customer & employee satisfaction levels. This invaluable melting pot of information provides an effective means of monitoring and measuring quarterly financial performance while breaking down specific costs and understanding the link between employee + customer satisfaction levels and your company’s financial health.

Working with this high-end report frequently will help you tackle any negative fiscal trends head-on while formulating strategies that will maximize financial efficiency in every key area of the business.

Your Chance: Want to create powerful strategic & operational reports?
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We’ve looked at everything from an operations management report example to production KPIs and beyond. Now that you understand the key dynamics of operational reporting in business intelligence as well as the benefits of strategic dashboards, it’s time to see how to create these reports

How To Create Operational & Strategic Reports?

How to create operational & strategic reports? 1. Understand your aims & goals, 2. work with the right KPIs, 3. Involve the right people, 4. Use customizable digital tools & dashboards, 5. NSI: never stop improving

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  — starting with your core business goals, aims, and objectives.

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 is a dashboard ideas guide for your reading pleasure.

4. Involve the right people

When it comes to operational reporting best practices or approaches to strategic-based reporting, this is often overlooked: when you roll out new software, tools, or customized reports, it’s always important to involve the right people while giving everyone in the organization the right level of permissions. By providing training and user workshops, you will ensure greater buy-in from everyone who will benefit from these reports while gathering valuable feedback that will empower you to refine your efforts.

5. NSI: never stop improving

This is also often overlooked by business decision-makers, 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.

Your Chance: Want to create powerful strategic & operational reports?
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Key Takeaways On Operational & Strategic Reports 

We’ve looked at every key area of operational and strategic-based reporting, outlining the key concepts and benefits while exploring a wealth of dynamic report examples, and one thing is clear: by embracing these innovative tools, technologies, and methodologies, you will gain an edge on the competition.

Operational and strategic reporting tools work in perfect harmony to offer deep, practical insights into every business department, process, and function imaginable. Working with the right reporting software, report types, and methods will make your business more robust, adaptable, efficient, innovative, and profitable – the key attributes to ongoing commercial success.

Now, it's over to you.  If you’re ready to start creating your own reports and take your business to the next level, our powerful software will ensure your business maximizes its full potential while enjoying consistent growth. Try datapine for a 14-day trial completely free and power up your business today.