2014 Business report writing


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This is a presentation given to the Postgraduate students in the Professional Practice paper at Massey University, New Zealand.

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2014 Business report writing

  1. 1. REPORT WRITING CENTRE FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING LIBRARY 3RD FLOOR 09 441-8143 slc-alb@massey.ac.nz Example Report Question Report vs Essay: Similarities & Differences Features of a Well-Written Report Report Structure Sections of a Report Optional Extras Steps to Writing Your Report
  2. 2. EXAMPLE BUSINESS REPORT QUESTION Using information given in the attached case study, write an analytical report to the CEO including: • Analysis of the organisation’s current strategy using one or more relevant model / theory • Assessment of the organisation’s competitive position (incorporating a SWOT and/or PESTEL analysis) • Application of Porter’s model to identify the nature and relative strength of competitive forces • Recommendations regarding the organisation’s strategic pathway in the medium to long term Word limit: 3000 words (excluding appendices)
  3. 3. LIKE AN ESSAY, AN EFFECTIVE REPORT …. - is built on careful analysis of the question - presents evidence, based on high quality sources - is clearly written, with every paragraph relevant to the question - has a logical shape, including an introduction & conclusion - includes a reference list, as well as in-text references For a video on Report Writing and more examples and advice, see: http://owll.massey.ac.nz
  4. 4. UNLIKE AN ESSAY, AN EFFECTIVE REPORT … - is usually addressed to a specific audience - usually has an explicit ‘real-world’ objective – often based on analysing a problematic situation and making recommendations - is more clearly divided into sections and sub-sections - may include numbered or bullet-pointed lists - is written in a more factual, less persuasive style - often summarises data in visual form (tables, charts, images etc)
  5. 5. REPORT WRITING PRINCIPLES Objectivity Thorough Research Structure Clear Writing Style  Your opinions & personality should not intrude  Keep it impersonal  Avoid using “I”  It should be clear that you know what you’re talking about  Sections of the report are clearly visible with headings and are logically arranged  Write clearly, concisely and informatively.  The content of the report should be easily accessible.
  6. 6. REPORT STRUCTURE Title Authors Executive Summary Introduction Investigation Findings Conclusions Recommendations References Appendices
  7. 7. TITLE PAGE TITLE OF REPORT (10.08.11) To: Dr. Brown AUTHOR’S NAME PAPER NUMBER TO WHOM REPORT IS ADDRESSED Paper: 219.100 To: Dr. Brown By: J P Brooks Conflict between senior management and supervising staff: Southland Branch Communicate DATE OF SUBMISSION Emerson, 2000
  8. 8. Executive Summary This report analyses management conflict at the Southland branch of Communicate. Specific objectives were to identify key problems and offer recommendations to Regional Management. Problems were located in the organisation’s structure, management style and lack of communication channels, especially between the branch manager and the supervisors. The report recommends a major restructuring of the branch, training for key personnel and clarification of job descriptions. Aims Objectives Main Findings Key Recommendations EXAMPLE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
  9. 9. LAYOUT OF TABLE OF CONTENTS Table of Contents Executive Summary i Table of Contents iv 1. Introduction 1 4. Conclusions 17 5. Recommendations 18 3. Findings 8 3.1 Organisational Structure 9 3.2 Management Styles 11 3.3 Lack of Communication 13 3.3.1. Training 15 3.3.2. Identification of Responsibilities 16 References 19 ROMAN NUMERALS ARABIC NUMERALS DECIMAL SYSTEM 2. Investigation 3 2.1 Data Collection 4 2.2 Data Analysis 6 Appendices 22
  10. 10. INTRODUCTION Gives the Big Picture (like the introduction to an essay) Context/ Background: • Topic • Problem(s) • Purpose and objectives Structure: • Preview of main sections • Outline of scope (what’s to be included) • Summary of any relevant assumptions or limitations
  11. 11. EXAMPLE INTRODUCTION 1. Introduction This report was commissioned by Mr Bob White, Manager – Southern Regional Office. Its purpose is to analyse and advise on how to improve management and communication practices at the Southland Branch. Southland Branch is characterised by a lack of motivation at senior management levels. This lack of leadership, coupled with a flawed organisation structure, is not conducive to effective management or communication practices. There are also several young supervisors who are clearly executive material for the future but are causing friction with staff, as they lack interpersonal communication skills. This report analyses these problems and offers recommendations on how to counter them to improve management and communication practices leading to stability and the continued growth of the Southland Branch. An assumption is made that the Accountant’s position is purely a staff function in line with current business practices. Emerson, 2000
  12. 12. INVESTIGATION Describe and explain your method of gathering data on each of the issues Define the terms you are using (e.g. ‘Capital Adequacy’) and describe a typical way it is measured and why it is measured in this way Describe and explain your method of analysing the data gathered Include any limitations in the availability of data and what impact they might have on the reliability of the report
  13. 13. FINDINGS Usually divided into sub-sections based on each issue Makes a clear link between the evidence from this case and the theory from your research which could explain it Should clearly support the conclusions – one way to do this is to use the same sub-section numbers (so findings section 3.1 links to conclusion section 4.1 etc) Typically takes up between 40% and 60% of the total report
  14. 14. EXTRACT FROM A FINDINGS SECTION 3. Findings 2.1 Business Communication In any organisation, flow is the life-blood of the business. Gray and Stark (1984) advise that communication is the medium through which action is introduced into the structure of the organisation. Sligo (1994) believes that without effective communication, businesses fail and relationships wither. The effectiveness of Southland Branch’s communication flow was analysed with Sligo’s advice in mind. Manager/Employees Lack of confidence in both the branch manager and the three supervisors is illustrated by the employees electing not to use upward communication to register their grievances. They preferred to bypass their line supervisors and contact the Southern Regional Office directly. It is also evident that no facility is in place at the Southland branch for staff to freely air any grievances. Kanter’s (1983) approach is to have regular meetings so that staff know what is happening in the workplace and for the executive to be informed early of any problem(s) affecting productivity. (Emerson, 2000)
  15. 15. EXTRACT FROM A CONCLUSION SECTION 3. Conclusions 3.1 Southland’s current organisation structure is inappropriate. There is an unnecessary layer of management between the branch manager and supervisors 3.2 The branch manager is experiencing difficulties communicating with staff, since he has recently endured a serious personal loss. As a consequence, the whole branch is failing to achieve desired results. (Emerson, 2000)
  16. 16. RECOMMENDATIONS Focus on the Future (whereas conclusions focus on the past / present situation) Must FOLLOW LOGICALLY from the Discussion and Conclusions Be brief and to the point and action-oriented Try to be specific with regard to who should do what, when and how – so that your recommendations can lead to measurable outcomes But check if you need them or not
  17. 17. EXAMPLE OF RECOMMENDATIONS 4. Recommendations 4.1 The manager, Southern Regional Office should support the branch manager and provide motivational guidance. 4.2 The branch manager should assist supervisors to develop improved methods of communicating with staff. He should maintain close contact with supervisors and appraise their performance every three months over the next year. 4.3 Send supervisors on an appropriate training course on supervision of staff (Emerson, 2000)
  18. 18. STEPS IN THE PROCESS OF REPORT WRITING Find definitions of key concepts and relevant measures and sources of data for your Investigation section Organise your data and write up the Findings section– divided into sub- sections based around issues Compile your reference list / tables / figures / appendices etc as you go along Write Conclusion and Recommendations sections – numbered so that they match the issues in the Discussion Write the Introduction Write the Executive Summary/ Abstract – make sure it isn’t the same as the introduction! Compile your Table of Contents Proof read and edit.
  19. 19. © 2014 This PowerPoint Presentation and the accompanying handouts are copyrighted by Centre for Teaching and Learning, Massey University, and may not be used, except for personal study, without written permission from the copyright owner.