In today’s work scenario employees may be asked to prepare formal detailed reports on a number of occasions. Business reports are generally related to investigating critical issues and suggesting course of action to tackle them. A well written report can prove to be highly effective in problem-solving and generating novel ideas.
However, when faced with the task of writing a business report, many people would struggle with the idea. So let us attempt to define a report and outline structure of a well written report.
A business report is a formal document written impersonally, to analyze a situation and suggest action. Therefore, it is clear that a business report requires a great deal of in-depth analysis of the situation or topic at hand. The report should be designed based on the type of audience and the purpose of the report. These two aspects will determine the type of data, the analysis required and format of presentation.
Even though every report varies in its contents, they are similar in their structure. So let us take a look at the structure of a report.
Executive Summary – This part of the report gives an overview of the topic under discussion, the reasons for the analysis and the methodology. It also briefly describes the findings and recommendations. It is meant for people who may not have the time to go through the entire report. They can peruse through the Executive Summary and get the essential information. The Executive Summary should be self-sufficient, in that it should make complete sense on its own and provide all critical information.
Introduction – After the Executive Summary comes the Introduction. In some cases, the Executive Summary may be a part of the Introduction. The introduction gives a background of the report and gives reasons for undertaking the study. It outlines the structure of the report and also defines the scope of study. The introduction also mentions the limitations of the study. All these components set a tone for the report and give an idea to the reader about what to expect.
Body – The main body of the report is as the name suggests the main part of the report. This is the detailed study of the topic at hand. It provides all essential information, data and analysis of the study. It gives details of the hypothesis, puts forth the data and either proves or disproves the hypothesis. Separate headings and titles should be given to each topic. It is important to present the information in the correct sequence. A critical aspect of the main body are the recommendations which will result in further action.
Conclusion – The conclusion brings the report to a close. It highlights the major findings and recommendations. It outlines the future course of action. Objective judgement can also be provided in the conclusion.
The details provided in every part and may vary based on the purpose of the report. The structure can also be modified based on the requirement and two or more parts may be clubbed together. But following the given structure will provide clarity to the report which is an important requirement from any business communication.
The BizComm Model of Strengthscape address report writing and many key skills of Business Communication.