A business report is the one that is made for any business-related purpose. They are prepared by using business-related information to facilitate key business people in a better decision-making process.
Definitions of the Business report
Murphy and Hildebrandt defined business reports as a planned, impartial, and objective-based presentation of a fact to one person or more people and that too is for significant and specific business purposes.
Lesikar and Petit defined a business report as an objective-based and orderly communication of the information having facts for serving a specific business purpose.
Boone considered a business report as a document to organize some specific topics and information for a particular business purpose.
So, from a broader perspective, a business report can be looked at as a written statement of facts in an organization and these facts are related to particular business matters or issues. This facilitates key decision personnel to gain insights into any problem or issue and also helps in overcoming it.
Business Report Characteristics
Information that lies in business reports is related to facts of business activities. This makes business report unique from other reports. A good business report should have all essential features or qualities as it provides information based on the real facts to make the decisions.
The main characteristics of any business report are as mentioned below:
1. Easily understandable: To hold the audience’s attention, a business report should be easy to understand. The audience should be considered before making a report. Complex terminology and detailed information can be included in business reports in case of a vast industry experienced audience. However, the audience that has less experience in the industry, the simple and straightforward language in the business report should be used.
For example, a business report which is written specifically for accounting purposes needs to be focused on financial things rather than technical things to cater to the specific audience. A combined report can be written to cater to the interest of everyone. Few business reports are written for outside customers to keep them informed about the business.
2. Correct and unbiased facts: The business report must contain facts or information that is accurate and impartial. If the information is incorrect or incomplete then desired results can’t be achieved. This will ultimately create a hindrance in achieving organizational goals.
3. Clear and brief information: Too much lengthy or unnecessary information or content may lose the audience’s interest and result in their time wastage. So, the business report should be written in a clear way and a concise form. In another way, it is related to avoid unnecessary information and only includes all those matters which are relevant to represent a piece of complete information. Long-report can also be effective in some special circumstances.
A good business report is clear as it properly arranges facts with its clear purpose, findings, and required recommendations.
4. Precise report: A good report is the one in which a report writer has a clear understanding of the exact purpose of report writing. This purpose directs the analysis and further recommendations of the report writer. The definite or precise report acts as a base for a valuable document for future usage.
5. Relevant facts: A business report should contain both accurate and relevant facts. Confusion may arise in case of irrelevant facts and can mislead further appropriate decision-making.
6. Focus on the audience: The orientation of the business report towards the audience or readers who is about to read is also an important characteristic. So, a good report is always audience-oriented. Audience knowledge and their understanding level need to be considered while writing a report.
7. Use of easy or simple language: Another feature of a good business report is the use of simple language while writing the report. Here simple language means to avoid unclear and vague words. The emotions or aim of a writer should not affect the language of the business report and the report’s message should be self-explained.
8. Grammatically correct: The error-free report is considered as a good business report. If any sentence is grammatically not correct then the reader may understand it in a different way and its meaning may change. Also, confusion or ambiguity may arise.
Tyes of Business Report
In broader terms, business reports are categorized as oral and written reports. When communication in business is done face-to-face or through words, then it is called oral business communication. Although it is a time saver for a reporter, simultaneously, it is more time-consuming too as it requires the listener to listen to each word carefully.
In another way, the written business report is more convenient. The reader may read the information as per his/her requirement i.e. either the whole report or piece of information or conclusions or recommendations. Written report structure is more formal as compared to oral one and can be utilized as and when required due to its proper documentation.
The business reports are further classified on the following basis:
1. Importance-based or frequency-based reports: These reports are based upon a specific purpose. These are of two types, i.e. ordinary or daily reports and special-purpose reports.
a) Ordinary or daily routine reports: These types of reports are general reports that are prepared and forwarded to management or higher authority as a routine activity or at specific intervals. These may be submitted either daily or weekly, quarterly, monthly or annually, etc.
For example, a daily or weekly or monthly report by the sales team can be submitted to the sales head or management regarding routine sales activities and average sales done. Similarly, a production report that includes daily production information and HR hiring report to know the status of hiring activities are part of ordinary reports.
b) Special purpose report: This business report is written and forwarded to the senior officials or management for a special purpose or on their special request. Generally, these types of reports include the views or recommendations of the report writer based on facts.
For example, management may ask HR Head to submit a special report on a high attrition rate along with his/her opinion for the reason of such a high attrition rate with facts, figures and also recommendations to reduce it. Similarly, different other special reports such as launching new products or services, changes in quality of the product or its features are considered as special purpose reports.
2. Law-based or legal reports: Reports that are based on legal formalities can be categorized as a formal and informal business report.
a) Formal business report: The report that is prepared in a specific or pre-determined format and as per well-established process is known as a formal report in business.
For example, different types of reports prepared and submitted by different officials, cooperative societies, legal identities, organizations, etc. come under such types of reports. Similarly, if an accident happens with any employee at the workplace then an organization is required to submit an accident report in a prescribed format of ‘Employee State Insurance Act’ to claim the medical insurance allowance or for the treatment under the act for medical bill rebates for the employee. This type of report is a type of formal report.
b) Informal business report: This type of report includes a user-specific format or structure that is according to the convenience of the writer and submitted directly to the desired authority as and when required.
The detailed facts related to a given task are presented in these reports without any recommendations or suggestions or keynotes.
For example, management of an organization may ask for the report of new joining in the organization in different departments or locations every month from the HR department without any suggestions or comments. Most of the time, these reports are prepared on a routine basis. These can also be statutory reports like a daily wage register is prepared in factories for workers as per the law or statutory and is a routine report as well.
3. Function-based reports: There are two main types of reports that are based on how these functions.
a) Informative business report: This one is based on the maximum available information related to any matter or situation.
For example, the attendance and the leave report of an employee are based on maximum information available with the HR department regarding his/her attendance in the biometric system and leaves taken during the period as per the policy, etc.
b) Interpretation-based report: It includes different related facts like the cause of any issue occurred, opinions, required actions, and recommendations of the reporter.
For example, in case of an industrial or union dispute, a detailed report is presented by the HR department or legal officer to management along with their recommendations and opinion to resolve the issue or concern is a well-defined manner.
4. Business meetings based reports: It is a report that includes the summary or minutes of the meeting. These reports are further categorized as:
a) Discussion-based Reports: This type of report is a complete record of concerns or matters discussed in the meeting.
For example, the appointment of the CEO or Directors of an organization can be done in these meetings by passing a resolution and their remuneration as well.
b) Summary reports: As the name indicates, this type of report is the summary of details discussed during any meeting to send information for the press release or to share with shareholders of the organizations.
5. Research and Analytical reports: Analytical reports contain analytical information and facts. These include data and information, the presentation of the data in tabulated form, explanation based on analytics, and findings or interpretations.
For example, the management of an organization may ask for the report of sales decline along with all the relevant analytics and findings.
Research reports are research-based reports in which research is conducted on any given issue.
For example, the management of any organization may ask its research department to present a research report on new product development.
Format or Structure of a Business Report
We’ve thoroughly explained the format/structure of a business report in a separate article here ➡️ https://studiousguy.com/format-structure-of-a-business-report/
Steps in Business Report Presentation
We’ve thoroughly explained the steps in report preparation in a separate article here ➡️ https://studiousguy.com/steps-in-report-preparation/