Basics (Reports Writing)


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Basics (Reports Writing)

  1. 1. Basics of Report Writing part 1 Session 11-12
  2. 2. The big picture “A report describes 1000 situations, like a picture speaks a 1000 words” Effective business reports solve problems and answers questions systematically Te xt TextText
  3. 3. What are reports? An orderly and objective communication of factual information that serves a business purpose
  4. 4. Business reports are systematic attempts to answer questions and solve problems. They include the following activities. PlanningPlanning ResearchResearch OrganizationOrganization PresentationPresentation What Are Business Reports?
  5. 5. Purpose of Business Reports  A business report conveys information to assist in decision- making. The report is the means to present this information.  Some reports might present the actual solution to solve a business problem; Other reports might record historical information that will be useful to assist in future decision making. Either way, information is being "reported" that will be useful in making decisions. In order for the writer to have a clear understanding of why a report is written, a written purpose sentence is essential. However for analytical reports, you should give a problem statement before statement of purpose.
  6. 6. Problem Statement It defines What your report is going to investigate. Asking the following questions can help you define your problem statement: What needs to be determined? Why is this issue important? Who is involved in this situation? Where is the trouble located? How did the situation originate? When did it start? (Refer to pg 394 Table 12.1)
  7. 7. Statement of Purpose It defines Why you are preparing the report, and helps you keep the report to the point. This purpose sentence could be written as either a statement or a question. However it is more useful to use an infinitive statement (to plus a verb) for phrasing your purpose of statement. For example:  To determine ways to improve employee morale. (statement)  To design a new procedure for the company’s annual inventory. (statement)  Should new computers be purchased to replaced the older models? (question)  Should the office arrangement be open or modular? (question)
  8. 8. Steps in Writing a Routine Business Report  Your assignment will be to write a memo report to help solve a business-related problem.  Think of a job you currently have (or have had in the past). Is there something you would change? Have you noticed a procedure or on-going situation that could be improved? Perhaps new equipment is needed or the physical layout is inefficient. Perhaps the work flow needs to be revised or company policy needs to be reevaluated. I'm sure there is something you would like to see improved.  Once you have a topic, you're then ready to start thinking in terms of a report. Don't decide on a solution right now. I want you to go through some steps to come to the RIGHT solution.  In creating your report, follow these steps: Determine the Scope of the Report Consider Your Audience Gather Your Information Analyze Your Information Determine the Solution Organize Your Report
  9. 9. Determine the scope of the report  A common fault of many reports is making the scope of a report too general or too vague. When you choose a subject for a report, one of the first steps is to narrow the scope to a report length. Your statement of purpose should help you to limit the scope.  The scope of the report is defined by determining the factors which you will study. You need to limit the amount of information you will gather to the most needed and most important factors.  For example, factors to be studied to determine ways to improve employee morale might include: Salaries Fringe benefits Work assignments Work hours Evaluation procedures You could study many other factors relative to improving employee morale. Some may be important, and you may want to consider them later. For any one report, however, a reasonable scope must be clearly defined by determining what factors will be included.
  10. 10. Consider Your Audience  Unlike letters and memos, reports usually have a far wider distribution. Many people may be involved in a decision-making process and have need to read the information in the report.  Your job is to make it easy for the reader. In order to make reading your report easier, think in terms of the reader.
  11. 11. Analyze Your Information The purpose of the analysis is to make sense, objectively, out of the information you have gathered. You will not want personal bias of any kind to enter into the analysis.  Information is compared and contrasted in an effort to try to find new ideas or the best ideas. Separate facts and figures need to be interpreted by explaining what they mean--what significance they have.
  12. 12. Analyze Your Information- For Example:  If you were doing a study to determine which computer to buy for your office, you would collect information on;  The type of work you are currently doing in your office and the kinds of work you want to do.  Then you would gather information on computers. This information might include cost, compatibility, speed of operation, machine capacity, machine dependability, maintenance availability, potential for upgrading, and other factors.  Then you would compare and contrast (analyze) the different computers to determine how well they can do what you want done, what their potential is, how dependable they are, and so on. Once all the information is gathered, you are ready to determine solutions
  13. 13. Determine the Solution Based on your analysis, you will be then be ready to offer a solution (or solutions) to the problem you have been studying.  Example: Which computer would be the best buy for the word processing center or what office arrangement would be the best for effective work flow?
  14. 14. Types of Report
  15. 15. Report Functions  Informational reports (To explain)  Analytical reports (To convince the audience that the conclusions & recommendations developed in the text are valid)
  16. 16. Purpose of Information Report  Monitoring & Controlling  Implement Policies & Procedures  Comply with legal or regulatory requirements  Document work performed for clients  Informational Reports  Providing information to the reader  Not persuasive  It provides answers to question without  offering recommendations
  17. 17.  Introduction  Identify the report and its purpose.  Present a brief overview of the report’s organization, especially for longer reports.  When readers are unfamiliar with the topic, briefly fill in the background details.  Body  Group facts or findings into three to five roughly equal segments that do not overlap.  Organize by time, component, importance, criteria, convention, or some other method.  Supply functional or talking heads (at least one per page) to describe each section.  Use an informal, conversational writing style unless a formal tone is expected.  Use bullets, numbered and lettered lists, headings, underlined items, and white space to enhance readability. Writing Informational Reports
  18. 18. Summary/Conclusion  When necessary, briefly review the main points and discuss what action will follow.  If relevant, express appreciation or describe your willingness to provide further information. Writing Informational Reports
  19. 19. Typical informational business reports  Periodic reports  Describe production, sales, shipping, service, and other recurring activities.  Trip, convention, conference reports  Describe an event, summarize three to five main points, itemize expenses, and estimate the event’s value. Writing Informational Reports
  20. 20. Typical informational business reports  Progress and interim reports  Explain continuing projects, including work completed, work in progress, future activities, and completion date.  Investigative reports  Examine problems and supply facts; provide little analysis. Writing Informational Reports
  21. 21. Student Progress Report DATE: ~~~~~~ TO: ~~~~~~ FROM: ~~~~~~ SUBJECT: ~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Background ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Work Completed ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ DATE: ~~~~~~ TO: ~~~~~~ FROM: ~~~~~~ SUBJECT: ~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Background ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Work Completed ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  22. 22. ~~~~~~~~~~ Page 2 ~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Work To Be Completed ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ Page 2 ~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Work To Be Completed ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Student Progress Report
  23. 23. Informational Reports Tips for writing Not so casual ( reader do not struggle to find main points) Proper heading / Bullets / Graphical highlighting
  24. 24. Periodic Reports Generated after a regular interval Purpose is to keep management informed These are for monitoring and for making strategies  It contains  Facts and figures  Sales volumes  Shipment delivered  Accounts payable  Format  Summarize regular activities  Describe irregular events  Highlight special needs and problems  Example Sales Report  Summary  Competitive update  Product problems  Needs
  25. 25. Situational Reports Covering non-recurring events ( Trips/Conferences) It is bit difficult to write Generally prepared in form of Memo How To Write  First ask who has authorized  Introduction (Briefing) Conclusion ( Comments) Do not write in chronological order
  26. 26. Situational Reports Trips and conferences Sent for one day training Begin with identifying event and previewing topics to cover Summarize in body Conclusion ( what actions would be taken )
  27. 27. Situational Reports Progress and Interim reports Special Project  Purpose and nature of Project Describe the work completed In progress work Problems and remedies Future plans and activities and expected completion date
  28. 28. Investigative Reports  Direct report as informational  Intro  Body (Facts and finding)  Summary completion date Compliance Reports  Following any Law ( from govt authority )  Format  Describe the action plan  Enclose relevant material S
  29. 29. From here on… We discuss  Analytical Reports  Justification / Recommendation Reports  Direct and Indirect Patterns  Feasibility Reports  Yardstick Reports  Research Studies
  30. 30. Purpose of Analytical Reports  Guide decisions on particular issues  Get products, plans or projects accepted by others
  31. 31.  Introduction  Explain why the report is being written. For research studies, include the significance, scope, limitations, and methodology of the investigation.  Preview the report’s organization.  For receptive audiences, summarize the conclusions and recommendations.  Findings  Discuss the pros and cons of each alternative. For receptive audiences, consider placing the recommended alternative last.  Establish criteria to evaluate alternatives. In “yardstick” studies create criteria to use in measuring each alternative consistently. Writing Analytical Reports
  32. 32.  Findings  Support the findings with evidence: facts, statistics, expert opinion, survey data, and other proof.  Use headings, enumerations, lists, tables, and graphics to focus attention. Conclusions/Recommendations  Develop reasonable conclusions that answer the research question. Justify the conclusions with highlights from the findings.  Make recommendations, if asked. Use action verbs. Explain needed action. Writing Analytical Reports
  33. 33. Typical analytical business reports  Justification/recommendation reports  Make recommendations to management; provide data to solve problems and make decisions.  Feasibility reports  Analyze problems and predict whether alternatives will be practical or advisable.  Yardstick reports  Establish criteria and evaluate alternatives by measuring against the yardstick criteria. Writing Analytical Reports
  34. 34. Analytical Report-1  Analytical Reports Emphasize On  Reasoning  Conclusion  Example: Product Engineers at Pepsi Cola persuading their management to launch “Mineral Water Bottles”
  35. 35.  Direct Reports  Concludes and provides recommendation early in the report  Generally taken up by more experienced and valued writers  Pattern can also be applied for topics that are more commonly understood Analytical Report-2
  36. 36.  Justification/Recommendation Reports  Different hierarchy levels are required to prepare such reports  More frequently written  Larger organizations use  Forms with conventional headings  Topics / Audience / Writers Credibility determines the report pattern Analytical Report-3
  37. 37.  Direct Pattern  Non-sensitive topics  Recommendations agreeable to readers  Pattern  Problem identified at the beginning  Announcement of recommendation, solution, with action verbs  Discuss “Pros” and “Cons”, Costs, etc  Conclusion with summary specifying actions to be taken  Example: Pepsi Sells Mineral Water Analytical Report-4
  38. 38.  Phase I: Pre-Writing  Analyze the purpose  Anticipate the audience and response  Adapt to direct and straight forward presentation  Phase II: Writing  Research to collect appropriate data  Organize the data that leads to the desired conclusion, by discussing overall effects  Compose the report for presentation  Phase III: Revising  Revise to ensure each supporting argument is highlighted  Proofread to ensure good quality of presentation  Evaluate critically if the user would except the argument Analytical Report-5
  39. 39.  Indirect Pattern  Make general reference to “The Problem”  Use statistical data, analytics, authoritative quotes to highlight the issue  Discuss alternative solutions, the most promising comes last  Evaluate proposed solution by giving “Pros” and “Cons”  Summarize recommendations and actions  Invite authorization to proceed  Example: “Drive to Stop – Smocking” Analytical Report-6
  40. 40. Feasibility Report-1  Analyzes whether a proposal or plan will work  Presents  Decisions  Back ground  Information  Benefits  Problems  Costs  Schedule
  41. 41. Feasibility Report-2  Announce decision early  Description and back ground of the problem  Benefits of the proposal  Estimated cost to execute  Time frame for execution Example: General motors setting up “Chevy Assembly Plant in Pakistan”
  42. 42. Yardstick Report-1  Problem with Two-More Solutions  Establishes criteria for comparison between alternatives  Advantage is to compare the alternatives with the same criteria
  43. 43. Yardstick Report-2  Describe the problem / need  Explain possible solution / alternative approaches  Establish criteria for alternative’s evaluation  Discuss each alternative in terms of the criteria  Draw conclusion and recommendations Example: McDonnell’s choice of outplacement of services
  44. 44. Research Report-1  Examines problems, collects data to solve the problem and reaches results from growing out of the findings  Leads the reader through all steps to reach the conclusion
  45. 45. Research Report-2  Identify the purpose of the report  Significance, scope, limitation, and methodology  Preview the organization of the report  Summarize conclusion and recommendations  Finding  Discuss pros and cons  Establish criteria for evaluation  Provide reasonable evidence for findings  Organize findings for logic and readability  Conclusion / Recommendations  Draw conclusion  Make recommendation
  46. 46. Report Formats  Letter format (outside the organization)  Memo format (with in the organization)  Manuscript format (longer formal reports)  Printed forms (repititive data ,monthly etc)