What is a Business Report?
A business report is designed to provide stakeholders with insight and understanding of how a business is performing. In a nutshell, business reports use the company data to present facts.
What stakeholders want to know most is information about the efficiency, procedures or competition of the company. Sometimes some analysis of the data may accompany the report to help stakeholders and directors make informed business decisions. To present this information, it is important to have defined sections with labels and headings.
Sections of a Business Report
Here we list the standard parts that you should include in a business report, however other headings may be required depending on the complexity of the information you need to provide.
The first part of your report is the executive summary. Leave the writing of this summary until after you have completed the entire report. The reason being is that the summary highlights the main points of the report, such as the topic, the data being used, the data analysis methods used, and any recommendations provided. There are no hard and fast rules as to how long or short a summary should be, it will depend on the complexity of your report and how many topics you are addressing.
It's a good idea to consider your readers when determining the length of your summary. If you know your readers want information quickly and don't have time to read the entire report, make it shorter, so they get all the information they need.
Table of Contents
You should list the main topics covered in the report and the page numbers where that information is found. If the stakeholders only want access to specific information in the report, this will make it easy for them to go straight to the page that concerns them.
Give some thought to the introduction as this will determine how some will listen and how attentive they will be. Your opening sentences should state something pertinent that will get the attention of your audience, and directly contribute to achieving your objective. It should highlight the major topics covered and provide background information on why the data in the report was collected and used and most importantly, how the information is valuable to your readers. Consider the frame of reference, comparisons or context when writing the introduction.
The body of the report describes the problem and discusses the major findings. It should explain where the data came from, why and how it was collected and how it is affecting the business overall. A good rule here is to break your body up into subsections using subheadings that highlight the specific point you are covering. This is a sure way to make your report easily understood and easy to follow.
The conclusion should offer an interpretation of the results of data and any recommendations that can improve some aspect of the business. For example, you may offer recommendations for a call to action or changes in the way something is managed to mitigate any adverse findings. The conclusion will be essential to your readers in understanding your point of view and having clearly defined actions you believe should be taken.
The references section lists the resources you used to research or collect the data for the report. References are essential ways to back up the information in the report and make it more believable. Your readers will be able to review the original data sources themselves for clarification.
Finally, the appendix is optional and may consist of additional technical information that is not necessary to the explanation provided in the body and conclusion but supports the findings, such as charts or pictures, or further research not cited in the body but relevant to the discussion.