Writing a Perfect Business Report
If you have access to a computer during the normal course of your daily work, you will at some point likely need to create a business report. The business report is the ultimate communication tool for supervisors and managers around the globe. This might be in no small part due to the fact that they can forward a well written business report to their superior with the click of a button.
None of that however, lessens the burden on you when it is time to knuckle down and crank out that report. The good news though is that Business Travel Gadgets has you covered, as always. So let’s start by taking a look at the various types of business reports you may be asked to create. Then we will provide business report templates for reports you may encounter and tips and suggestions for creating the perfect business report.
The Purpose of a Business Report
Never lose sight of the reason you are writing a report. The primary purpose for any report is simple communication. Whether the report is about performance, progress or people, the intent of the report is typically to record the information so the others can be informed.
In fact, just about every business report should start with the reason you are creating the report (purpose) and to whom you intend to submit the report. Clearly defining the purpose of the report and understanding who the intended audience is, will help you to create a well written and well organized document.
Let’s explore some of the most common types of business report:
Types of Business Reports
Activity Reports: I am not a huge fan of activity reports, but there may be a time when this style of report is needed, so we will cover all the bases here. The activity styles business report is exactly as the name suggests, a list of the business related activities during a given period.
Typically, this style of report is requested or generated when the productivity for given department or individual is critical. Regardless of the reason, management wishes to track the activity of a given individual or department, there for a written record of all tasks should be recorded. List the planned tasks and the completed tasks, and perhaps list the expected completion date for ongoing tasks.
Meeting Minutes Report: This is a very common style of business report. The meeting minutes report is a very important document and should always be completed for every meeting. Meeting minutes are helpful when decisions made during a meeting need to be revisited. Particularly when tasks are assigned during a meeting, the minutes will become a record of the given assignment and describe the progress as time continues.
Performance Reports: The performance report is extremely versatile and can be written for numerous reasons. This style of report can be about employee performance, department performance, vendor performance, project performance or financial performance.
Employee Performance Report: This report is much more valuable than most business managers realize. Keep in mind the fact that labor typically accounts for 25 – 40% of a business’s expenses. So in terms of “investment”, about one-third will be allocated to the people who work for you. Therefore, with regard to getting the most for your hard earned money, it is critical that you get the most our of your labor dollar.
This is when the Employee Performance Report can be an extremely valuable tool. Most employees want to perform at their best and are looking for ways to improve so that they can perhaps advance within any given organization. I understand that there are exception, but in general, most employees want to advance their current situation. With that said, the employee performance review is the absolute best method to take advantage of that desire. And when I say “take advantage” I am referring to a win/win for the employee and the organization.
Keep in mind that Employee Performance Reviews are often associated with pay increases. This is important because if you establish an environment of Performance review = Raise, then the expectation will be set and employee will generally associate on with the other. This is a double edged sword, because the employee will associate a “Good” review with a “Good Pay Increase” and if anything else happens then the employee may feel slighted. Additionally, if pay increases are not in the budget for this year, then the reviews may lose their impact.
On the positive side, the performance review is the perfect time to reward exceptional service. The subject of employee pay increases and cost of living adjustments will require an article to themselves, but you may want to tie increases to performance by rewarding those who excel. As I mentioned, we will not be able to fully discuss the subject here, just know that an organization may choose to offer increases on the basis of merit and the perfromance review will amke that connection for you.
Vendor or Supplier Performance Report: Again we will devote an entire article to the topic of assessing your vendors and suppliers, but it is a very good idea to evaluate your suppliers on a regular basis. Keeping records of these evaluations can assist when negotiation are required with vendors and will ensure that your vendors are meeting your expectations as a customer.
It is a fairly common trend for organizations to become comfortable with their current suppliers. I cannot tell you how many times I have spoken with senior management, who have told me “They have been our supplier for 20 years, they will always give us the best price“, only to find out that it simply isn’t true. Additionally, I have seen vendors close their doors unexpectedly and leave their customers without material and desperate for another vendor. These things can happen and your organizations business continuity could be at risk, if it happens to you.
Below we will review some of the criteria you may consider when evaluating your vendors / suppliers:
Maintain Good relationships: In today’s world supplier evaluations are more common than ever, so it should be no surprise to any vendor that you are evaluating their performance. And quite frankly any good vendor should not be concerned and possibly even welcome the opportunity.
Financial Performance Report: Now this is my kind of report, I just love performance reports because they are typically about numbers and I really like numbers. Performance reports can be as flashy or simplistic as you feel necessary. You can have bar graphs and number charts and images and fancy colors. The performance report is a place for a manager to show off and tell upper management how well his/her department is doing.
So the first order of business is to gather the numbers.