The datapine Blog
News, Insights and Advice for Getting your Data in Shape

A Guide To The Top 10 Types Of Reports With Examples On When To Use Them

Types of reports blog post by datapine

Businesses have been producing reports since forever. No matter what role or industry you work in, chances are that you have been faced with the task of generating a tedious report to show your progress or performance. 

While reporting has been a common practice for many decades, the business world keeps evolving and, with more competitive industries, the need to generate fast and accurate reports becomes critical. This presents a problem for many modern organizations today as building reports can take from hours to days. In fact, a survey about management reports performed by Deloitte says that 50% of managers are unsatisfied with the speed of delivery and the quality of the reports they receive. 

With this issue in mind, several BI tools have been developed to assist businesses in the generation of interactive reports with just a few clicks. Facilitating the way companies interact with their data and improving their decision-making process. 

But with so many types of reports used on a daily basis, how can you know when to use them? In this post, we are going to cover the 10 most common types of reporting and provide some examples of when to use them. In addition, we will see how online dashboards have overthrown the static nature of classic reports and given way to a much faster, more interactive way of working with data.

Let’s get started with a brief report definition! 

Your Chance: Want to test a modern reporting software for free?
Try our 14-day free trial & start building interactive reports today!  

What Is The Report Definition?

A modern reporting example created with a dashboard tool

A report is a document that presents relevant business information in an organized and understandable format. Each report is aimed at a specific audience and business purpose and it summarizes the performance of different activities based on goals and objectives.  

That said, there are various types of reports that can be used for different purposes, rather you want to track the progress of your strategies or stay compliant with financial laws, there is a different report for each task. To help you identify when to use them we will cover the top 10 most common report formats used for businesses today. 

What Are The Different Types Of Reports?

Top 10 types of reports overview graphic

1. Informational Reports 

The first in our list of reporting types are informational reports. As their name suggests, this report type aims to give factual data about a specific topic. This can include performance reports, expenses reports, justification reports, among others. A differentiating characteristic from these reports is their objectivity, they are only meant to inform but not propose solutions or hypotheses. Common informational reports examples are for performance tracking such as annual, monthly, or weekly reports

2. Analytical Reports 

This report type contains a mix of useful information to facilitate the decision-making process through a mix of qualitative and quantitative data as well as real-time and historical data. Unlike informational reports that purely inform users about a topic, this report type also aims to provide recommendations about the next steps and help with problem-solving. With this information in hand, businesses can build strategies based on analytical evidence and not simple intuition. With the use of the right BI reporting tool businesses can generate analytical reports that include accurate forecasts via predictive analytics technologies. Let's look at it with an analytical report example.

Analytical report example of a sales pipeline dashboard

**click to enlarge**

The example above is the perfect representation of how analytical reports can boost a business’s performance. By getting detailed information such as sales opportunities, a probability rate, as well as an accurate pipeline value forecast based on historical data, sales teams can prepare their strategies in advance, tackle any inefficiencies, and make informed decisions for increased efficiency. 

3. Operational Reports 

These reports track every pertinent detail of the company's operational tasks, such as its production processes. They are typically short-term reports as they aim to paint a picture of the present. Businesses use this type of report to spot any issues and define their solutions, or to identify improvement opportunities to optimize their operational efficiency. Operational reports are commonly used in manufacturing, logistics, and retail as they help keep track of inventory, production, costs, among others. 

4. Product Reports

As its name suggests, this report type is used to monitor several aspects related to product performance and development. Businesses often use them to track which of their products or subscriptions are selling the most within a given time period, calculate inventories, or see what kind of product the client values the most. Another common use case of these reports is to research the implementation of new products or develop the existing ones. Let’s see it more in detail with a visual example. 

Type of report examples: a report on product innovation, useful for product development and pricing decisions

**click to enlarge**

The image above is a product report that shows valuable insights regarding usage intention, purchase intention, willingness to pay, and more. In this case, the report is based on the answers from a survey that aimed to understand how the target customer would receive a new product. Getting this level of insights through this report type is very useful for businesses as it allows them to make smart investments when it comes to new products as well as set realistic pricing based on their client’s willingness to pay. 

5. Industry Reports 

Next in our list of the most common types of reports we have industry-specific reports. Typically, these reports provide an overview of a particular industry, market, or sector with definitions, key trends, leading companies, industry size, among others. They are particularly useful for businesses who want to enter a specific industry and want to learn how competitive it is or for companies who are looking to set performance benchmarks based on average industry values. 

6. Department Reports

These reports are specific to each department or business function. They serve as a communication tool between managers and team members that need to stay connected and work together for common goals. Rather is the sales department, customer service, logistics, or finances, these specific report type helps track and optimize performance on a deeper level. Let’s look at it with an example of a team performance report. 

A department report type example of a customer support team performance

**click to enlarge**

The image above is a department report created with an online data analysis tool and it is tracking the performance of a support team. This insightful report displays relevant metrics such as the top-performing agents, net promoter score, first contact resolution rate, among others. Having this information in hand not only helps each member of the team to keep track of their individual performance but also allows managers to understand who needs more training and who is performing at their best. 

7. Progress Reports

From the brunch of informational reports, progress reports provide critical information about the status of a project. These reports can be produced on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis by employees or managers to track performance and fine-tune tasks for the better development of the project. Progress reports are often used as visual materials to support meetings and discussions a good example is a KPI scorecard

8. Internal Reports

A type of report that encompasses many others on this list, internal reports refer to any type of report that is used internally in a company. They convey information between team members and departments to keep communication flowing regarding goals and business objectives. 

An internal report example: hospital management dashboard

**click to enlarge**

As mentioned above, internal reports serve as useful communication tools to keep every relevant person in the organization informed and engaged. This healthcare report aims to do just that. By providing insights into the performance of different departments and areas of a hospital such as in and outpatients, average waiting times, treatment costs, and more, healthcare managers can allocate resources and plan the schedule accurately as well as monitor any changes or issues in real-time. 

9. External Reports

Although most of the report types listed here are used for internal purposes, not all reporting is meant to be used in closed doors. External reports are created with the aim of sharing information with external stakeholders such as clients or investors for budget or progress accountability as well as to governmental bodies to stay compliant with the law requirements.

External report type example of a client report for an IT project

**click to enlarge**

The image above is the perfect example of an external client report from an IT project. This insightful report provides a visual overview of every relevant aspect regarding the development of the project. From deadlines, budget usage, completion stage, and tasks breakdown, clients can be fully informed and involved in the project. 

10. Vertical & Lateral Reports 

Last but not least in our rundown of the top 10 types of reports we have vertical and lateral reports. This reporting type refers to the direction in which a report travels. A vertical report is meant to go upward or downward the hierarchy, for example, a management report. While a lateral report assists in organization and communication between groups that are at the same level of the hierarchy, such as the financial and marketing departments.

Your Chance: Want to test a modern reporting software for free?
Try our 14-day free trial & start building interactive reports today!  

What Does A Report Look Like?

Now that we’ve covered the most relevant types of reports, we will answer the question: what does a report look like? 

As mentioned at the beginning of this insightful guide, static reporting is a thing of the past. With the rise of modern technologies like self service BI tools, the use of interactive reports in the shape of business dashboards has become more and more popular among companies.

Unlike static reports that take time to be generated and are difficult to understand, dashboards are intuitive. Their visual nature makes them easy to understand for any type of user, and they provide businesses with a central view of their most important performance indicators for an improved decision-making process. Here we will cover 10 useful dashboard examples from different industries and functions to put the value of dashboard reporting into perspective. 

1. Financial Report

Visual reporting example for finances tracking metrics such as current working capital, cash conversion cycle, and vendor payment error rate

**click to enlarge**

Keeping finances in check is critical for success. This financial report offers an overview of the most important financial metrics that a company needs to monitor its economic activities and answer vital questions to ensure healthy finances. 

With insights about liquidity, invoicing, budgeting, and general financial stability, managers can extract long and short-term conclusions to reduce inefficiencies, make accurate forecasts about future performance, and keep the overall financial efficiency of the business flowing. For instance, getting a detailed calculation of the business working capital can allow you to understand how liquid is your company. If it's higher than expected it means you have the potential to invest and grow.

2. Marketing Report 

A marketing report example for campaign tracking generated with a modern dashboard tool

**click to enlarge**

Our next example is a marketing report that ensures a healthy return on investment from your marketing efforts. This type of report offers a detailed overview of campaign performance over the last 12 weeks. Having access to this information enables you to maximize the value of your promotional actions keeping your audience engaged by providing a targeted experience. 

For instance, you can implement different campaign formats as a test and then compare which one is most successful for your business. This is possible thanks to the monitoring of important marketing metrics such as the click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), cost per acquisition (CPA), and more. 

The visual nature of this report makes it easy to understand important insights at a glance. For example, the four gauge charts at the top show the total spending from all campaigns and how much of the total budget of each campaign has been used. In just seconds you can see if you are on target to meet your marketing budgets for every single campaign. 

3. Sales Report

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

**click to enlarge**

An intuitive sales dashboard like the one above is the perfect analytical tool to monitor and optimize sales performance. Armed with powerful high-level metrics, this report type is especially interesting for managers, executives, and sales VPs as it provides relevant data to ensure strategic and operational success. 

The value of this sales report lies in the fact that it offers a complete and comprehensive overview of relevant data needed to make smart sales decisions. For instance, at the top of the dashboard, you get important metrics such as the number of sales, revenue, profit, and costs, all compared to a set target and to the previous time period. The use of historical data is fundamental when building successful sales strategies as they provide a picture of what could happen in the future. Being able to filter the data all in one screen is a key benefit from modern dashboard reporting. 

4. HR Report 

Employee performance depicted with a modern human resources report

**click to enlarge**

Our next example of a report is about human resources analytics. The HR department needs to track a lot of data such as employee performance and effectiveness. But overall they need to ensure that employees are happy and working in a healthy environment since an unhappy workforce can significantly damage a company. This is all possible with the help of this intuitive dashboard. 

Providing a comprehensive mix of metrics, this employee-centric report drills down into every major element needed to ensure successful workforce management. For example, we see that the top portion of the dashboard covers absenteeism in 3 different ways: yearly average, absenteeism rate with a target of 3.8%, and absenteeism over the last 5 years. Tracking absenteeism rates in detail is helpful as it can tell you if your employees are skipping days of work. If the rate is over the expected target, then you need to dig deeper into the reasons and find sustainable solutions. 

On the other hand, the second part of the dashboard covers the overall labor effectiveness (OLE). This can be tracked based on specific criteria that HR predefined and it helps them understand if workers are achieving their targets or they need extra training or help. 

5. Management Report

A example of a report type for investors relationships with metrics such as the working capital ratio, share price, share on assets, return on equity, among others

**click to enlarge**

Managers need to monitor big amounts of data to ensure that the business is running smoothly. One of them being investors relationships. This management dashboard focuses on high-level metrics that shareholders need to look at before investing such as the return on assets, return on equity, debt-equity ratio, share price, among others. 

By getting an overview of these important metrics, investors can easily extract the needed information to make an informed decision regarding an investment in your company. For instance, the return on assets measures how efficiently are the companies assets being used to generate profit. With this information, investors can understand how effectively your company deploys available resources in comparison to others in the market. Another great indicator is the share prince, the higher the increase in your share price the more money your shareholders are making from their investment. 

6. IT Report 

IT report tracking the occurrence of technical issues to improve system operational performance

**click to enlarge**

Just like all the other departments and sections covered in this list, the IT department is one that can especially benefit from these types of reports. With so many technical issues to solve, the need for a visual tool that will help IT specialists stay on track with all their workload becomes critical. 

As seen in the image above, this IT dashboard offers detailed information about different system indicators. For starters, we get a visual overview of the status of each server, followed by a detailed graph displaying the uptime & downtime of each week. This information is complemented with the most common downtown issues and some ticket management data. Getting this level of insight helps your IT staff to know what is happening and when it is happening and find proper solutions to avoid these issues from repeating themselves. Keeping constant track of these metrics will ensure robust system performance. 

7. Procurement Report

This procurement report example provides an overview of the most essential metrics of the procurement department

**click to enlarge**

This next example of a report was built with intuitive procurement analytics software and it gives a general view of various metrics that the procurement department needs to work with on a regular basis. 

With the possibility to filter, drill down, and interact with the data, this intuitive procurement dashboard offers key information to ensure a healthy relationship with suppliers. With metrics such as compliance rate, the number of suppliers, or the purchase order cycle time, the procurement team can classify the different suppliers, define the relationship each of them has with the company, and optimize processes to ensure the company stays profitable.

8. Customer Service Report

Call center reporting type presented with the revenue value, costs per support, average time to solve an issue,  and overall satisfaction

**click to enlarge**

Following our list of examples of reports is one from the support area. Armed with powerful customer service KPIs, this dashboard is a useful tool to monitor performance, spot trends, identify strengths and weaknesses, and improve the overall effectiveness of the customer support department. 

Covering aspects such as revenue and costs from customer support as well as customer satisfaction, this complete dashboard is the perfect tool for managers that need to keep an eye on every little detail from a performance and operational perspective. For example, by monitoring your customer service costs and comparing them to the revenue you can understand if you are investing the right amount into your support processes. This can be directly related to your agent’s average time to solve issues, the longer it takes to solve a support ticket the more money it will cost and the less revenue it will bring. If you see that your agents are taking too long to solve an issue you can think of some training instances to help them reduce this number. 

9. Market Research Report 

A type of report for market research displaying the results of a survey about brand perception

**click to enlarge** 

This list of report types examples would not be complete without a market research report. Market research agencies deal with a big amount of information coming from surveys and other research sources. Taking all this into account, the need for reports that can be filtered for deeper interaction becomes more necessary for this industry than any other. 

The image above is a brand analytics dashboard that displays the results of a survey about how a brand is perceived by the public. The dashboard contains different chart types that make it easy to visually understand the data. For instance, the map chart with the different colors lets you quickly understand in which regions each age range is located. The data can be filtered further to see the detailed answers from each group for a deeper analysis. 

10. Social Media Report 

Social media report example displaying performance metrics for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube

**click to enlarge**

Last but not least, we have a social media report.  This scorecard format dashboard monitors the performance of 4 main social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube and it serves as a perfect visual overview to track the performance of different social media efforts and achievements. 

Tracking relevant metrics such as followers, impressions, clicks, engagement rates, and conversions, this report type serves as a perfect progress report to show to managers or clients that need to see the status of their social channels. Each metric is shown in its actual value and compared to a set target. The colors green and red from the fourth column let you quickly understand if a metric is over or under its expected target. 

If you feel inspired by this list then we recommend you to take a look at our dashboard examples library where you will find over 80+ templates from different industries, functions, and platforms for extra inspiration! 

Your Chance: Want to test a modern reporting software for free?
Try our 14-day free trial & start building interactive reports today!  

Types Of Reporting For Every Business & Purpose 

As we’ve seen throughout this post, there are different report formats that are used by businesses for diverse purposes in their everyday activities. In this post, we covered the top 10 most common ones and provided you with examples of how dashboard reporting is revolutionizing the way businesses deal with their reporting process. 

With modern tools and solutions, reporting doesn’t have to be a tedious task. Anyone in your organization can rely on data for their decision-making process without the need for technical skills. Rather you want to keep your team connected or show progress to investors or clients there is a report type for the job. To keep your mind fresh, here are the top 10 types of reports covered in this post: 

  1. Informational reports 
  2. Analytical reports 
  3. Operational reports 
  4. Product reports 
  5. Industry reports 
  6. Department reports 
  7. Progress reports 
  8. Internal reports 
  9. External reports 
  10. Vertical and lateral reports 

If you want to start building your own reports today, then you should try our BI reporting software for 14-days for free