Before you begin
Before you even start to research the report, make certain that you and report’s commissioners have agreed on the topic, scope, and objectives of the report, and you have it in writing. If this is a large project, then perhaps even do a written summary or statement of objectives, then you can be sure the goals are clear.
You need to have agreed what the report commissioners can expect as an outcome of the report. Maybe they want background information on an issue faced by their business. Perhaps they need an in-depth analysis, and conclusions, actions and recommendations all fully costed?
What are your key objectives? What do you have to achieve? Who will be the report’s readers? What background and knowledge will they have, what will they already know about the subject? Will they need any background information to understand the contents in context?
Importance of structure
A Business Report performs a number of functions. It should be easy to understand, and easy for a reader to access only the information they need.
Some people will read the complete report, while others may skim it. Still others will access the summary only, or search for the information they want.
A report needs a structure to facilitate all these readers to find what they need.
The sections you should include will obviously vary with the type of report you are writing .The report could be technical, scientific or financial, and each would require different sections.
The objective here is to enable allow the reader to access the information they want without reading the complete report. They might even decide from the sections they have read whether they want to read (or buy) the complete report.
Allow time for report production
The production of a well written report can be a long job, and may well take longer than you anticipate. So whether you are new to report writing or experienced allow yourself plenty of time. The content of the report is of paramount importance, but keep in mind that you, and your report, will also be judged by the presentation. So give yourself enough time for the production of the report, and pay attention to the tiny details.
A report more than a few pages long will benefit from having a cover page which states the report title, author’s name and the date.
Then make a;-
- Table of Contents
- Overview or Executive Summary
- Report main Body, divided into sections
In the next module we will review each section.