Report Writing


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Report Writing

  1. 1. Writing Business Reports By Papia Bawa
  2. 2. Definition of a Report: <ul><li>A business report is a professional document designed to convey information to assist in decision-making. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Scope of Reports : <ul><li>Some reports might present the actual solution to solve a business problem. </li></ul><ul><li>Other reports might record historical information that will be useful to assist in future decision making. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Purpose Statements in Reports: <ul><li>Purpose statements give a clear understanding of why a report is written. They could be written either as a statement or a question. </li></ul><ul><li>To determine ways to improve employee morale. (statement) </li></ul><ul><li>To design a new procedure for the company’s annual inventory. (statement) </li></ul><ul><li>Should new computers be purchased to replaced the older models? (question) </li></ul><ul><li>Should the office arrangement be open or modular? (question) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Types of reports: <ul><li>Short Reports: </li></ul><ul><li>Expense reports </li></ul><ul><li>Incident reports </li></ul><ul><li>Periodic and progress reports </li></ul><ul><li>Lab and test reports </li></ul><ul><li>Field reports </li></ul><ul><li>White Papers </li></ul><ul><li>Long Reports : </li></ul><ul><li>Feasibility reports </li></ul><ul><li>Recommendation reports </li></ul><ul><li>Proposals </li></ul><ul><li>Quarterly and Annual reports </li></ul><ul><li>Long range planning reports </li></ul><ul><li>White Papers </li></ul>
  6. 6. Steps in Writing a Business Report: <ul><li>Determine the Scope of the Report </li></ul><ul><li>Consider Your Audience </li></ul><ul><li>Gather Your Information </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze Your Information </li></ul><ul><li>Determine the Solution </li></ul><ul><li>Organize Your Report </li></ul>
  7. 7. Determine the Scope of the Report <ul><li>The scope of the report is defined by determining the factors which you will study. </li></ul><ul><li>You need to limit the amount of information you will gather to the most needed and most important factors. </li></ul>
  8. 8. For Example: <ul><li>Factors to be studied to determine ways to improve employee morale might include: </li></ul><ul><li>Salaries Fringe benefits Work assignments Work hours Evaluation procedures </li></ul>
  9. 9. Consider Your Audience <ul><li>Avoid false assumptions : </li></ul><ul><li>That the person who will first read or edit the report is the audience. </li></ul><ul><li>That the audience is a group of specialists in their field. </li></ul><ul><li>That the audience is familiar with the subject of the report. </li></ul><ul><li>That the audience has time to read the entire report. </li></ul><ul><li>That the audience has a strong interest in the subject of the report. </li></ul><ul><li>That the author will always be available to discuss the report. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Kinds of Audience : <ul><li>Primary: People who have to act or make decisions on the basis of the report </li></ul><ul><li>Secondary: People affected by actions of the primary audiences would take in response to the report </li></ul><ul><li>Immediate: People responsible for evaluating the report and getting it to the right people </li></ul>
  11. 11. Additional questions to ask regarding your audience are: <ul><li>How much background will the audience need? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you need to define any terms you are using? </li></ul><ul><li>What language level will be most appropriate for your readers? </li></ul><ul><li>How many and what kind of visual aids should you use? </li></ul><ul><li>What will the audience expect from your report? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the reader prefer everything given in detail or merely a brief presentation that touches upon the highlights? </li></ul>
  12. 12. Gather Your Information <ul><li>Information you gather can be of two types: </li></ul><ul><li>Secondary information gathered and recorded by others. </li></ul><ul><li>Primary information you gather and record yourself. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Remember: <ul><li>Process your information carefully. </li></ul><ul><li>Secondary information may be outdated, inaccurate, or biased. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Analyze Your Information <ul><li>Analysis is the most important source of gathering material for any report. </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis serves as a focal point for research and as a criteria list. </li></ul>
  15. 15. The importance of Analysis, continued: <ul><li>Your analysis (both internal and external) </li></ul><ul><li>serves the task of both clarifying your thinking. </li></ul><ul><li>and also becoming the backbone of your recommendations later. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Analysis in report writing: <ul><li>PEST or Macro-environmental Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>S.W.O.T Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Micro-environmental Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Internal environmental Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Five Forces Analysis. </li></ul>
  17. 17. PEST or Macro-environmental Analysis <ul><li>Deals with : </li></ul><ul><li>P olitical issues </li></ul><ul><li>E conomic issues </li></ul><ul><li>S ocio-Cultural issues </li></ul><ul><li>T echnological issues </li></ul>
  18. 18. Why Political issues: <ul><li>The political arena has a huge influence upon the regulation of businesses, and the spending power of consumers and other businesses. </li></ul>
  19. 19. What Political Issues: <ul><li>How stable is the political environment? </li></ul><ul><li>Will government policy influence laws that regulate or tax your business? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the government's position on marketing ethics? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the government's policy on the economy? </li></ul>
  20. 20. Why Economic issues : <ul><li>Marketers need to consider the state of a trading economy in the short and long-terms. </li></ul><ul><li>This is especially true when planning and reporting for international marketing. </li></ul>
  21. 21. What economic issues : <ul><li>Interest rates </li></ul><ul><li>The level of inflation </li></ul><ul><li>Employment level per capita </li></ul><ul><li>Long-term prospects for the economy Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita </li></ul>
  22. 22. Why Socio-cultural issues : <ul><li>The social and cultural influences on business vary from country to country. </li></ul><ul><li>It is very important that such factors are considered. </li></ul>
  23. 23. What Socio-cultural issues: <ul><li>What is the dominant religion? </li></ul><ul><li>What are attitudes to foreign products and services? </li></ul><ul><li>Does language impact upon the diffusion of products onto markets? </li></ul><ul><li>How much time do consumers have for leisure? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the roles of men and women within society? </li></ul><ul><li>How long are the population living? Are the older generations wealthy? </li></ul><ul><li>Do the population have a strong/weak opinion on green issues? </li></ul>
  24. 24. Why Technological issues : <ul><li>Technology is vital for competitive advantage, and is a major driver of globalization. </li></ul>
  25. 25. What technological issues: <ul><li>Does technology allow for products and services to be made more cheaply and to a better standard of quality? </li></ul><ul><li>Do the technologies offer consumers and businesses more innovative products and services such as Internet banking, new generation mobile telephones, etc? </li></ul><ul><li>How is distribution changed by new technologies e.g. books via the Internet, flight tickets, auctions, etc? </li></ul><ul><li>Does technology offer companies a new way to communicate with consumers e.g. banners, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), etc? </li></ul>
  26. 26. S.W.O.T Analysis <ul><li>Means : </li></ul><ul><li>S trengths and W eaknesses internal to the business , and </li></ul><ul><li>O pportunities and T hreats external to the business . </li></ul>
  27. 27. Uses of S.W.O.T <ul><li>SWOT analysis is a tool for auditing an organization and its environment. </li></ul><ul><li>It is the first stage of planning and helps marketers to focus on key issues. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Strengths could be : <ul><li>your specialist marketing expertise. </li></ul><ul><li>a new, innovative product or service. </li></ul><ul><li>location of your business. </li></ul><ul><li>quality processes and procedures. </li></ul><ul><li>any other aspect of your business that adds value to your product or service. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Weaknesses could be : <ul><li>lack of marketing expertise. </li></ul><ul><li>undifferentiated products and service (i.e. in relation to your competitors). </li></ul><ul><li>location of your business. </li></ul><ul><li>poor quality goods or services. </li></ul><ul><li>damaged reputation. </li></ul>
  30. 30. An opportunity could be : <ul><li>a developing market such as the Internet. </li></ul><ul><li>mergers, joint ventures or strategic alliances </li></ul><ul><li>moving into new market segments that offer improved profits </li></ul><ul><li>a new international market </li></ul><ul><li>a market vacated by an ineffective competitor </li></ul>
  31. 31. A threat could be : <ul><li>a new competitor in your home market. </li></ul><ul><li>price wars with competitors. </li></ul><ul><li>a competitor has a new, innovative product or service. </li></ul><ul><li>competitors have superior access to channels of distribution. </li></ul><ul><li>taxation is introduced on your product or service. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Be careful not to: <ul><li>Confuse the internal (SW) with the external (OT). </li></ul>
  33. 33. Rules for S.W.O.T : <ul><li>be realistic about the strengths and weaknesses of your organization. </li></ul><ul><li>analysis should distinguish between where your organization is today, and where it could be in the futures. </li></ul><ul><li>be specific. Avoid gray areas. </li></ul><ul><li>always analyze in context to your competition i.e. better then or worse than your competition. </li></ul>
  34. 34. In addition, remember : <ul><li>That elements of some characteristic of a business may be a strength, </li></ul><ul><li>Whereas other elements of the same characteristic may be a weakness. </li></ul>
  35. 35. For example , <ul><li>An autocratic all-powerful leader is probably a strength in terms of purposefulness and speed of decision-making, </li></ul><ul><li>Yet a weakness in terms of participative management. </li></ul>
  36. 36. Internal environmental Analysis <ul><li>All factors that are internal to the organization are known as the 'internal environment‘. </li></ul><ul><li>These are determined by the Five ‘M’s. </li></ul>
  37. 37. The Five ‘M’s <ul><li>M en </li></ul><ul><li>M oney </li></ul><ul><li>M achinery </li></ul><ul><li>M aterials </li></ul><ul><li>M arkets </li></ul>
  38. 38. Five Forces Analysis <ul><li>Five forces analysis helps the report writer to contrast a competitive environment. </li></ul>
  39. 39. The Focus of Five Forces <ul><li>The single, stand alone, business or SBU (Strategic Business Unit) rather than a single product or range of products. </li></ul><ul><li>For example, Dell would analyze the market for Business Computers i.e. one of its SBUs. </li></ul>
  40. 40. The Key Areas of the Five Forces : <ul><li>threat of entry </li></ul><ul><li>the power of buyers </li></ul><ul><li>the power of suppliers </li></ul><ul><li>the threat of substitutes </li></ul>
  41. 41. The threat of entry <ul><li>Economies of scale e.g. the benefits associated with bulk purchasing. </li></ul><ul><li>The high or low cost of entry e.g. how much will it cost for the latest technology? </li></ul><ul><li>Ease of access to distribution channels e.g. Do our competitors have the distribution channels sewn up? </li></ul>
  42. 42. Continued <ul><li>Will competitors retaliate? </li></ul><ul><li>Government action e.g. will new laws be introduced that will weaken our competitive position? </li></ul><ul><li>Cost advantages not related to the size of the company e.g. personal contacts or knowledge that larger companies do not own or learning curve effects. </li></ul>
  43. 43. The power of buyers <ul><li>This is high : </li></ul><ul><li>Where there a few, large players in a market e.g. the large grocery chains. </li></ul><ul><li>If there are a large number of undifferentiated, small suppliers e.g. small farming businesses supplying the large grocery chains. </li></ul><ul><li>The cost of switching between suppliers is low e.g. from one fleet supplier of trucks to another. </li></ul>
  44. 44. The power of suppliers <ul><li>The power of suppliers tends to be a reversal of the power of buyers where : </li></ul><ul><li>The switching costs are high e.g. Switching from one software supplier to another. </li></ul><ul><li>Power is high where the brand is powerful e.g. Cadillac, Pizza Hut, Microsoft. </li></ul><ul><li>Customers are fragmented (not in clusters) so that they have little bargaining power e.g. Gas/Petrol stations in remote places . </li></ul>
  45. 45. The threat of substitutes <ul><li>Where there is product-for-product substitution e.g. email for fax </li></ul><ul><li>Where there is substitution of need e.g. better toothpaste reduces the need for dentists. </li></ul><ul><li>Where there is generic substitution (competing for the currency in your pocket) </li></ul>
  46. 46. Micro-environmental Analysis <ul><li>This environment influences the organization directly. </li></ul><ul><li>It includes suppliers that deal directly or indirectly, consumers and customers, and other local stakeholders. </li></ul>
  47. 47. What micro means : <ul><li>Micro describes the relationship between firms and the driving forces that control this relationship. </li></ul><ul><li>It is a more local relationship, and the firm may exercise a degree of influence. </li></ul>
  48. 48. Determine the Solution <ul><li>Your solution must be based on the results of your analysis and gathered information. </li></ul><ul><li>You must consider all alternatives before recommending the best one. </li></ul>
  49. 49. A word of caution <ul><li>A tendency in business report writing is to &quot;slant&quot; information in the report to lead the reader to the decision the writer wants. </li></ul>
  50. 50. Remember <ul><li>You must report all pertinent information--good and bad. </li></ul><ul><li>The credibility of the report (and your credibility) is at stake . </li></ul>
  51. 51. Also make sure <ul><li>That a solution is even requested. Depending on your position in the organization and the particular business study, a solution may NOT be requested in the report. </li></ul><ul><li>Your purpose would then be to present the objective facts. These facts would be used by someone else to determine the best solution. </li></ul>
  52. 52. Organize your Report <ul><li>A report could be presented as a: </li></ul><ul><li>memo report </li></ul><ul><li>a standardized form report </li></ul><ul><li>or a formal report   </li></ul>
  53. 53. Organization Process <ul><li>Inductive order - moving from known to unknown </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Orientation (introduction) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facts (perhaps including their analysis) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Summary or conclusion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recommendation </li></ul></ul>
  54. 54. Organization Process continued <ul><li>Deductive Order : </li></ul><ul><li>Start with conclusions. </li></ul><ul><li>Then present support facts and analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>Often preferred for short reports. </li></ul>
  55. 55. Organization by Division <ul><ul><li>Division by time period (e.g., quarter) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Division by place (e.g., sales region) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Division by quantity (e.g., sales by categories of amounts) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Division by conceptual factors (e.g., worker availability, transportation facilities, etc.) </li></ul></ul>
  56. 56. Effective Organization involves <ul><li>Design </li></ul><ul><li>Presentation </li></ul>
  57. 57. Design Issues <ul><li>Coherence : </li></ul><ul><li>Each fact must be in its logical place. </li></ul><ul><li>Relationship of each fact to other facts and to overall report must be clear. </li></ul>
  58. 58. Elements of Design <ul><li>Text : Headings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>for helping the reader find a topic or component </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>making transitions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>establishing order </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We can use multiple levels of headings. </li></ul></ul>
  59. 59. Text: Fonts: <ul><ul><li>Variations in fonts can be used to set off pieces of text (headings, quotes, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not get carried away with use of fonts - too distracting </li></ul></ul>
  60. 60. Text: Indentation and justification <ul><li>As with headings and subheadings, can be used to show relationship/hierarchy of topics. </li></ul>
  61. 61. Text:Bullets: <ul><ul><li>Excellent for lists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Excellent for emphasis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make sure they use parallel structure (i.e., text in each is worded similarly) </li></ul></ul>
  62. 62. Graphics <ul><li>Tables - Used to list values of at least two variables - excellent for comparison </li></ul><ul><li>Pie charts - how parts relate to the whole </li></ul><ul><li>Bar graphs - for comparing values, showing trends </li></ul><ul><li>Line graphs - for showing trends </li></ul><ul><li>Illustrations and photographs </li></ul>
  63. 63. Why use graphics ? <ul><li>Presents a message in an economical manner using less space than would be needed to provide the same information in the text. </li></ul><ul><li>Saves your reader’s time. </li></ul><ul><li>Focuses the reader’s attention on specific information. </li></ul><ul><li>Adds interest. </li></ul><ul><li>Shows relationships. </li></ul><ul><li>Presents facts and figures in a condensed manner . </li></ul>
  64. 64. Presentation <ul><li>  More than just &quot;making it pretty,&quot; good presentation makes your document more understandable. </li></ul><ul><li>It is highly related to the organization of the document. </li></ul>
  65. 65. A well-designed presentation: <ul><li>Creates an immediate positive impression for the reader. </li></ul><ul><li>Highlights the major topics of the document. </li></ul><ul><li>Helps the reader read effectively (faster and more efficiently). </li></ul><ul><li>Gives the reader the choice of alternatives. </li></ul>
  66. 66. Remember: <ul><li>You cannot just tell the reader your recommendations without showing that you have considered the alternative options. </li></ul><ul><li>Each contending option needs to be rationally rejected to complete the process of giving yourself and the reader maximum confidence in your recommendations. </li></ul>
  67. 67. Basic parts of a Report <ul><li>Title page </li></ul><ul><li>Abstract or executive Summary </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion </li></ul><ul><li>Summary and conclusions </li></ul><ul><li>Recommendations </li></ul><ul><li>Appendix </li></ul><ul><li>How you do this depends on the topic and purpose. You may need to read, interview, experiment and observe. Get advice from someone more experienced if you need to. </li></ul>
  68. 68. Good Luck! With Your Report Writing