Business Report: Objectives, Qualities, Steps

business report

While a report is generally understood as an oral or written description of events, a business report specifically pertains to business-related matters. A report provides a spoken or written account of something heard, seen, done, studied, etc., especially one that is published or broadcast.

What is a Report?

Reports are crucial in the business world, serving as a fundamental mode of communication used on a global scale. The larger an organization, the greater its reliance on reports for the efficient and effective coordination of activities.

Reports become even more essential when organizations engage in technical and complex work. The English term “report” is derived from the French word “Rapportes,” which means the assembly of homogeneous facts into a coherent whole.

What is a Business Report?

Various definitions shed light on the concept of a business report:

  • Betty R. Rick and Kay F. Gow (1989) define it as “A report is a written or oral message presenting information that will help a decision-maker solve a business problem.”
  • Littlefield and others define it as “A report is a statement prepared to present facts relating to planning, coordinating, performance, and the general state of business in an organization.”
  • Raymond V. Lesikar and John D. Pettit (2002:400) state, “A business report is an orderly, objective communication of factual information that serves some business purpose.”
  • Thill and Bovee (1999:265) describe a business report as “the written, factual account that objectively communicates information about some aspect of the business.”

These definitions collectively emphasize that a business report is a purpose-driven form of communication that assists management in understanding and addressing specific problems or situations.

It presents facts and figures related to a particular scenario, enabling management to make effective decisions and achieve favorable outcomes for the business.

Therefore, a business report is a systematically prepared, written or oral statement of facts about an event designed to aid management in resolving business problems effectively.

12 Characteristics of Business Report

A business report possesses distinct features or characteristics that differentiate it from other types of reports. The following is a detailed description of these features:

Orderly Communication

Business communication is meticulously prepared with a well-defined format. It presents facts sequentially in a chronological manner. This sets it apart from casual, routine information exchanges that commonly occur in business.

Objective Communication

Business reports maintain an objective and unbiased approach to the presented facts. They seek the truth, regardless of potential consequences. Objectivity in reports encompasses fundamental ethical aspects.

Approaching facts impartially, deriving logical meaning from them, and presenting ideas clearly and fairly to others reflect a highly sophisticated form of ethical thinking. Consequently, a business report objectively presents facts with the utmost neutrality.

Communication

A business report is, in every respect, a form of communication. It employs various means to convey meaning to the intended recipient, who requires the report to make decisions about a specific event.

Factual Information

A business report primarily presents factual information, such as events, records, and various forms of data relevant to conducting business.

Serves a Business Purpose

Not all reports are considered business reports. Only reports that serve a business purpose qualify as business reports.

This means that a business report is prepared to address a business problem or enhance business operations. It must contribute to resolving business-related issues to be classified as a business report.

Handles Large Quantities of Data

Business reports deal with complex business situations involving substantial facts, figures, interpretations, and inferences. Business problems often comprise a complicated set of interrelated and/or interdependent issues.

Consequently, every business report necessitates managing a large volume of data to gain an accurate understanding of a business problem and effectively communicate the facts.

Chronological Description of Facts

Business reports encompass a multitude of facts related to the specific problem under investigation. They present these facts chronologically, allowing managers to comprehensively understand the events contributing to the problem.

Assigned Job

Business communication is not a spontaneously initiated task.

A superior individual or body typically assigns it to a subordinate person or body responsible for conducting the investigation and reporting back to the superior authority.

Upward Communication

Business reports consistently constitute upward communication. They are prepared by subordinate individuals or bodies and submitted to superiors.

Signed and Dated

Business reports are specifically assigned responsibilities entrusted to particular individuals or groups. These assigned individuals prepare the report, incorporating their comments and opinions. Consequently, the responsibility for the report lies with them, necessitating the inclusion of signatures and dates to authenticate the report.

Use of Past Tense and First Person

Business reports focus on specific events that have occurred within or outside the organization but have an impact on business operations. They are prepared by designated individuals or groups, leading to the use of past tense and first-person writing.

Set Format

Business reports adhere to a predefined format with specific structural and writing conventions. Reports may vary in length, but they must follow one of the established formats. This format has been standardized through the practices of business professionals and communication experts worldwide.

11 Objectives of Business Report

A business report is prepared for a specific business purpose. It is initiated to uncover facts about a business situation and use them for decision-making to resolve problems. A report is a fundamental management tool used for decision-making.

However, the following are the specific objectives of a business report:

To Inform

The primary objective of a business report is to inform the management about a particular event or issue that management needs to be aware of.

A business report presents the information discovered through an investigation into a situation that impacts the business’s welfare and profitability.

To Recommend Action

Business reports aim to recommend courses of action to effectively address a specific problem. The person conducting the investigation gains insights into the nature of the issues involved and can suggest the appropriate actions to resolve the problem. A business report provides recommendations for efficient problem-solving.

To Analyze Facts and Situations

Another objective of a business report is to analyze facts and situations related to a specific business scenario. The goal is to delve into the problem and uncover its underlying elements. This analysis provides management with insights into the complexities of the problem, making problem-solving more manageable.

To Present a Detailed Account of an Event

Business reports are investigative in nature and provide a comprehensive account of an event subject to investigation.

Therefore, a business report offers a detailed statement of the issues involved in an event, allowing management to understand the event completely.

To Provide Documentation of an Event

A critical objective of the business report is to offer documentary evidence of the investigated event. This enables management to take effective action on any matter. The evidence can also be preserved for future reference.

To Measure Performance

Measuring the performance of individuals requires field information. Managers base their assessments of performance on performance reports. Business reports are prepared to measure the actual performance of the organization’s human resources.

To Help Navigate Changes

One of the objectives of a business report is to assist management in navigating changes favorably. Business reports provide information about potential changes, their nature, and consequences.

This information helps management design strategies to mitigate negative consequences and turn them into opportunities for the organization.

To Assist in Coordinating Organizational Work

Another objective of the business report is to aid in coordinating organizational tasks. This is achieved by providing information about work progress in various organization departments. These progress reports serve as fundamental documents for task coordination.

To Facilitate Inter-Firm Comparison

The inter-firm comparison allows a business to evaluate its performance and determine the desirability of its results. Business reports are oriented to provide management with essential data about other competing firms in the economy. This enables management to compare the firm’s performance with that of others and take improvement measures.

To Aid in Strategy Development

Business reports help management formulate various strategies to thrive in a competitive environment. These strategies are used to develop information about past, present, and future trends in the macro and micro environments.

To Comply with Regulatory Requirements

Business reports are prepared to comply with legal or regulatory requirements of the business, such as audit reports, director’s reports, annual reports, etc. These types of reports are submitted on a recurring basis.

12 Importance of Business report

A business report is a vital document for management. Large organizations rely on business reports to maintain continued and coordinated operations.

Business reports are virtually indispensable documents for all organizations, regardless of their size and operations. The following points highlight the importance of business reports:

Facilitating Decision Making

Business reports assist management in making decisions on various complex matters by providing timely and relevant information.

They collect facts about the problems or issues management must address effectively. Accurate and timely information is crucial for informed decision-making, and business reports are key in providing this information.

Providing Detailed Insights

Business reports serve as investigative documents that delve into specific events or issues. They gather inside information about these events and present it to management organizationally. This enables management to gain comprehensive insights into the matters under consideration.

Supporting Critical Analysis

Business reports explore all the facets of a particular event or issue, systematically organizing the information for management. This structured presentation allows management to critically analyze the event and clearly understand all the relevant factors.

Objective Presentation

Business reports present information neutrally, without bias or distortion. They assemble and present facts objectively, providing management with an unbiased view of the subject matter, which leads to fair and impartial decision-making.

Aiding in Planning, Coordination, and Control

Business reports offer information about the past, present, and future. They cover current ongoing activities in various functional departments, historical data, and anticipated future events relevant to the business. This information supports management in planning, coordinating, and controlling the organization’s activities.

Integrating Past and Present Events

Business reports provide investigative information about events, integrating historical data with current issues. Management uses this information to make decisions that consider past and present business events.

Reducing Administrative Costs

By providing comprehensive and accurate information, business reports help management make effective decisions that can significantly reduce administrative costs.

Assessing Stakeholder Opinions

Business reports are prepared with the facts and opinions of concerned parties. They enable management to assess the opinions of individuals or parties involved in a particular issue, aiding in the decision-making process.

Publishing Facts

Business reports serve as documents of facts and figures related to a matter. They enable management to publish facts for external stakeholders and maintain them as permanent records.

Business reports offer documented evidence of facts related to a specific business event, and these documents are legally valid and admissible.

Attracting New Business or Funding

External parties use business reports to assess a firm’s financial and managerial capabilities. Reports such as feasibility reports, audit reports, and technical reports help interested parties evaluate the viability of a project and make investment decisions. Market reports assist in expanding market strategies.

Business reports assist management in fulfilling legal obligations. Statutory reports like audit reports and annual reports are prepared to comply with mandatory legal requirements.

21 Qualities of a Good Business Report

A good business report is a fundamental management tool for decision-making and other managerial purposes. Hence, it is of utmost importance for every business concern. Therefore, it must be prepared with extra care and caution.

The report must be reliable, dependable, and trustworthy. Thus, a good business report, like all types of reports, must have certain qualities that will make it distinct and acceptable to all. The following is a description of such qualities:

Accuracy

Accuracy of facts is a fundamental requirement for a good business report. Since reports invariably lead to decision-making, inaccurate facts may lead to disastrous decisions. Therefore, all information presented in the business report must be true and correct.

Precision

Precision provides a sense of unity and coherence to the business report and makes it a valuable document. In a good business report, the writer should be very clear about the exact purpose of the report. The central purpose should direct everything presented in the report.

Good Judgment

A business report should demonstrate good judgment in presenting facts and opinions. Managers make decisions and conclusions based on it. So, the writer of the business report should exercise utmost intelligence and wisdom while presenting and interpreting facts.

Responsive Format, Style, and Organization

A business report should adhere to a specific format, style, and organization of facts. This format ensures that the report is presented systematically and meaningfully.

Objectivity

A business report is a purposeful document. Therefore, all facts and other issues should be collected and arranged in such a manner that they lead to the successful attainment of the objectives of the report and the organization.

Simplicity

A business report should be simple, written in clear, unambiguous language, with short and simple sentences. Facts should be presented in a straightforward manner to ensure easy understanding.

Clarity

Clarity is a fundamental virtue of a business report. A good report is absolutely clear, with a systematic arrangement of facts, a clear purpose, source identification, findings, and recommendations. It should be divided into short paragraphs with headings for greater clarity.

Analytical

A business report should be analytical and interpretative. Its purpose is to present facts and interpretations of those facts to facilitate decision-making.

Brevity

A business report should be concise, as executives do not have time for lengthy reports. It should be as brief as possible while still conveying all necessary information.

Proper Terms of Reference and Title

A business report should have appropriate terms of reference and a clear title to help management quickly grasp the key facts and information.

Neutrality

A business report should maintain neutrality in presenting facts and figures. An unbiased and objective explanation of events makes a business report reliable.

Transitional Words and Sentences

The report should use transitional words and sentences to ensure a synchronized flow of thoughts and maintain reading consistency.

Use of Correct Grammatical Form

Grammatical accuracy is essential in a good business report. Proper sentence construction ensures clarity and understanding.

Jargon Use

The report should minimize the use of technical jargon to ensure understanding by all readers.

Adaptive

A business report should be realistic and adaptive to the current environment, using contemporary terms, styles, and formats.

Timeliness

Business reports should be prepared promptly to avoid changes in the factual context. Timely presentation to management is crucial for its usefulness.

Relevance

A business report should include only relevant facts related to the central purpose of the report. Irrelevant facts can confuse, while excluding relevant facts renders the report incomplete.

Viewpoint

The report should present viewpoints from all concerned parties in a reliable manner, providing management with a comprehensive understanding of the event.

Reader-Oriented

A good business report is reader-oriented and tailored to the needs of the intended audience, whether technical or general readers.

Completeness

A business report should be complete in all aspects, leaving no relevant elements of the situation under investigation untouched. Management should have a comprehensive understanding of the event to make informed decisions.

Recommendation

Business reports should contain recommendations to address problems or complexities. These recommendations should be logical conclusions drawn from the investigation and analysis, impartial, and objective.

5 Steps for Writing a Business Report

Business report writing is a technical skill. One has to have a thorough knowledge of the process of writing a business report. The acceptability and attractiveness of the report will depend on the art of writing and assembling facts synchronized.

However, the following steps are required to write an effective business report:

Step 1: Determining the purpose of the report

The work of writing a business report begins with a problem. Someone or some group requires information for a business purpose. They may need information only, or they may need both information and analysis, or they may need information, analysis, and recommendations.

Whatever the case, individuals with this need will authorize you to do the work. Usually, they will do so orally, but they may also use a letter or memorandum.

After you have been assigned the task of writing a report, your first step is to establish the problem clearly in your mind. This is a basic and elementary task in every report-writing effort, but it is often done haphazardly.

Frequently, it is the reason for the failure of a report to reach its goals. How will you start the work and get your mind set on the right nature of the problem? The following guidelines will help you determine the purpose of the business report in its correct shape:

Conduct a preliminary investigation.

In order to gather all the information needed to understand the problem, conduct a preliminary investigation into the matter. Gathering the right information involves many things, depending on the nature of the problem.

It may mean collecting material from organizational files, discussing the problem with experts, searching through printed sources, and discussing the problem with those authorizing it. You should continue the preliminary investigation until you have the information necessary to understand the problem.

Clearly state the problem.

Now, state the problem clearly. You should state it, preferably in writing. A written statement of the problem will help preserve it permanently. You can refer to it time and again without the danger of it being changed. In addition, other people can review, approve, and evaluate it for improvement.

Most importantly, putting it in writing forces you to understand the problem clearly. In this way, this practice serves as a valuable form of self-discipline. The problem statement normally takes one of three forms: infinitive, question, and declarative.

For example:

  • Infinitive phrase: The purpose of the report is “to determine the cause of decreasing sales in Khulna territory.”
  • Question form: “What are the causes for decreasing sales in Khulna territory?”
  • Declarative Statement: “The sales in Khulna territory are decreasing, and management wants to know why.”

Determine the factors of the problem.

It is time to determine the subject areas you must investigate to satisfy the overall objectives. Within the framework of your logical imagination, you should look for the factors of the problem. Factors can be of three types:

1. They may be subtopics of the broader topics the report is concerned about.

This is a breakdown of the main areas about which information is needed. A study of the problems of operation may have the following subtopics:

  • Production,
  • Human resource management,
  • Finance,
  • Marketing,
  • Product development, etc.
2. They may be hypotheses to be tested.

Hypotheses are the possible explanations or solutions that the researcher takes about a problem. Once determined, hypotheses are tested and then related to the problem. The following are the hypotheses of your previous problem: “What are the causes for decreasing sales in Khulna territory?”

Hypotheses:

  • Competitors’ activities have caused the decline of sales.
  • Merchandising deficiencies have caused the decline of sales.
  • Sales force inefficiency has caused the decline of sales.
  • Price increases have caused the decline of sales.

You should test each hypothesis. You may find one, two, or all apply, or maybe none do. Then you have to develop additional hypotheses for further evaluation. You would continue this process of generating hypotheses until you determine answers to your problem statement.

3. They may be bases on which the comparisons are made.

In case of evaluative research, you need to determine the characteristics to be evaluated. It may include the criteria to be used in evaluating each characteristic. For example: “Comparative study of the performances of the Khulna and Dhaka sales territories.”

Bases:

  • Sales in amount and in units,
  • Gross profit margin,
  • Inventory turnover, etc.

Break down the factors into sub-factors.

Sometimes, the factors may have factors of their own. In that case, they may be broken down into sub-factors. Breaking factors into other factors gives the problem order and serves as a guide to the investigation that follows.

Step 2: Gathering The Needed Information

This logical step involves gathering needed information from the field. How you obtain the information depends on the nature of your problem. The source of information may be primary or secondary.

The primary sources are your company files, managerial personnel, employees, or customers, etc. You may need to conduct a survey or experiment to collect information from primary sources. Whatever the source or sources are, it requires a systematic method to collect information.

You may apply an interview question schedule or questionnaire method to collect field information from the primary sources. Any printed materials published in any form would be your secondary source. You may need to collect information from either one or both sources.

However, you will take all possible measures to collect complete information so that you can have a comprehensive understanding of the problem issue.

Step 3: Applying the Findings to the problem

Now, you will apply the gathered facts selectively to the problem or hypotheses. After completing your research, You will find a lot of information on your subject.

Thus, you must go through what you have collected and apply each item of information to the problem’s needs. If the information helps answer a need, you keep it. If it does not, you discard it.

This is an interpretation of facts. The whole process is a mental one- a process of judgment. Your interpretation will continue until you have completed the report project.

Fundamentals of Interpretation

Interpretation is a mental activity that improves with experience and knowledge. After you have arranged your findings in a logical order, you are ready to finish your interpretation of them in terms of how they apply to the problem.

You apply certain fundamentals of interpretation to have a correct interpretation of facts. These fundamentals are logically grouped into five areas (Lesikar and Pettit, 2002:418):

1. Human frailties that lead to interpretation errors.

Interpretation is the product of the mind and thus is affected by the limitations of the mind. Our minds are subject to quirks of peculiarity, irrationality, and inconsistency. These frailties limit our ability to interpret. You can take the following care to guard against them:

Do not exaggerate the meaning of facts

This happens due to the desire for the spectacular, our love for the unusual. It often results in the feeling that the facts uncovered are too dull and common and must be made more interesting. This view may lead to exaggeration in interpretation. You must continuously be aware of this possibility and consciously work to avoid it.

Do not think your facts are the final answer

This comes out of the belief that conclusions are essential. It is a wrong assumption that absolute finality and certainty are needed in all cases. A few areas of information can be interpreted definitively. Lack of adequate information or the possibility of many interpretations may cause such a situation. So, modified or no interpretation is better than unjustified interpretations.

Support every conclusion with facts

Those that cannot be supported by facts cannot be made. You must have evidence to support your interpretations.

2. Fallacious procedures in interpretation.

Fallacies have no place in a business report. A fallacy is an error in thinking. When a writer does not think correctly, facts and their meanings become distorted, and the report becomes suspect. Fallacious thinking can stem from many causes. In any case, it has no place in interpretation.

Five errors are the most frequently committed errors. You can make your report more accurate and believable by avoiding these errors:

Bias in interpretation

Bias results from viewpoints that the analyst developed before interpreting facts in a report. Bias may be deliberate or unconscious. Deliberate bias is unethical, and unconscious bias shows superficial thinking. Eliminate these biases by constantly guarding against them. Keep in mind that bias is not excusable.

Comparison of Non-comparable data

The data that are used to compare may not be truly comparable. Therefore, you should work hard to include only valid comparisons as the basis for conclusions. So, compare only those facts that are logical.

Cause-effect confusion

This error confuses association among data with causation. It results from the mistaken assumption that a cause-effect relationship among sets of data exists. So, do not equate association and causation. Keep in mind that (i) data are related; (ii) there is evidence of cause and effect relations; and (iii) there is evidence to rule out other factors that may have caused the relationship among the sets of data.

Unreliable and unrepresentative data

Interpretation depends on the data that support it. Mistaken data would be fallacious. So, be sure to use reliable data and use representative data—facts that match the whole.

Neglect of important factors

Oversimplification of report problems causes this error. If you consider a few factors and neglect others that are equally or more important, your analysis will be incomplete. So, look for all factors that affect the problem and include those in your problem description.

3. Attitudes and practices conducive to sound interpretation.

Good interpretation requires clear thinking. Unfortunately, not all of us are equally good at interpreting. You can clarify and improve your thinking with the following attitudes and practices:

Cultivate a critical point of view

Criticize your work as much as you support it. You should look at the opposite side of the interpretation with equal vigor.

Maintain a judicial attitude

Take the role of a judge. Judges decide without emotion, without prejudice, and with open minds. So, look at your work as a judge and uncover the truth.

Consult with others

You do not know everything. So, talk over report problems with others, especially ardent critics. You will be in a better position to interpret with their opinions.

Test interpretations

Deliberately test your interpretations to make them more correct and realistic. You can do it in two ways:

  1. Apply the test of reason. Ask questions—Is each interpretation logically based on your knowledge or experience? If the answer is right, your interpretation will be right.
  2. Apply the negative test. Make an opposite interpretation and build a case for it. You compare the two opposite interpretations and retain the one with stronger support.
4. Statistical aids to interpretation.

Statistics permit one to examine a set of facts. Statistical techniques provide many methods for analyzing data. By knowing them, you can improve your ability to interpret. Descriptive statistics should help the most.

The measures of central tendency—mean, median, and mode—will help you find a common value. The measures of dispersion—ranges, variances, and standard deviations—should help you describe the spread of a series. Probabilities, ratios, inferential, and other statistical approaches are also helpful.

But do not allow statistics to confuse the reader; they should help in interpretation.

5. Techniques in interpreting for the reader.

Put your interpretation into words and symbols that the reader will understand. Adapt to the reader’s filter, which is the reader’s knowledge, viewpoints, and emotions.

You must explain and justify your interpretations so that the reader will benefit from your exhaustive analysis. Your interpretation must present a fair, accurate picture to your reader.

Interpretation Procedures

There is no magic panacea or mechanical formula for interpreting data. Each report problem is unique. Still, there are common elements to the interpretation procedure that can help you.

You can alter the plan to fit the unique requirements of a special situation. The steps involved in the interpretation procedure are stated below:

1. Relate information to the problem

Look for ways to combine the facts with parts of the reported problem.

There are many ways to do so.

  1. You may relate one part to the problem and find that the relationship plays a paramount role in the entire report.
  2. You may combine large amounts of information to highlight a single, minor point.
  3. You may develop a maze of comparisons and cross-comparisons.
2. Make all credible interpretations

You should not ignore any interpretation with merit. Make all plausible interpretations. You should emphasize the quantity of interpretations; later on, you can prune for quality.

3. Reevaluate interpretations

Review carefully all the interpretations you have formulated. You should thoroughly evaluate each interpretation in the light of the facts that support it.

4. Select the interpretations with the most merits

Retain those interpretations that have the most support. You should drop those interpretations that have less support.

5. Derive conclusions from the interpretations

Conclusions are answers to your report problem. It is the interpretation of previous interpretations in a report. In such a process, there may be facts, interpretations of facts, interpretations of facts interpretations, and possibly recommendations.

Therefore, draw conclusions from your interpretations. Recommendations are lines of action to which conclusions logically lead. Thus, they are interpretations drawn from conclusions.

All parts of the interpretation process are linked together in a hierarchy; facts support interpretations, interpretations support conclusions, and conclusions support recommendations.

Step 4: Organizing the Report Information

Now, you must organize the facts. Give the gathered information the order in which it will appear. Research findings are often in some form of disorder – Note cards, Questionnaires, Sheets of recordings, etc. They should be arranged in order for better understanding. Then, apply it to the problem. The nature of the research will determine the style of the order.

Guidelines for arranging report information

Write an outline

An outline is simply a plan for the writing task. It forms the table of contents and headings of the report. It will guide your efforts and compel you to think before you write.

Choose an appropriate Pattern of Report Organization

There are three Possible Outline Patterns. You should decide on the sequence or pattern you will use in your report. The patterns are:

  • Logical Pattern: This pattern teaches that you present the findings in inductive or indirect order – moving from the known to the unknown. The logical sequence follows the order: Introduction > Facts > Summary > Conclusions > Recommendations.
  • Direct Pattern: The direct pattern presents the subject matter in a deductive fashion. It presents the parts of the report in the following way: Summaries > Conclusions > Recommendations > Introduction > Facts.
  • Chronological Pattern: The chronological pattern presents the findings in the order in which they happened. It follows the order of time. The chronological plan may be combined with either of the two preceding orders. A problem of historical nature takes this course:
  • From Present to Past
  • From Past to Present
  • From present to future
  • From Future to present
Select the type of headings

There are four types of headings – topic, complete sentence, imperative sentence, and variant. You can select any one of them, but headings are the most commonly used.

  • Topic Captions/Headings: These are short constructions, frequently one/two words in length, that do nothing more than identify the topic of discussion. This heading only gives the subject of discussion and is constituted with nouns or short phrases. Examples: History or History of the Problem, Background or Background of the Study, Determinants or Determinants of commitment, or Root reasons, Sources of Conflict, etc.
  • Complete Sentence Captions/Headings: These identify the subject and tell what is being said about it. They are written in a complete sentence that carries the sense of content in a nutshell and include a subject and a verb. Example: “Problems and Prospects of E-commerce in Bangladesh.” Or “Corrective Measures For Improvement.”
  • Imperative sentence heading: It begins with a verb, and the subject is omitted. It is written in a decapitated sentence. Example: “Make promotion effective” or “Take time to outline.”
  • Variant heading: Variant heading begins with a particle and is used to make the heading attractive and catchy. Example: “Granting aid to the Tsunami victims.”
Choose a system of Outline symbols

Outline symbols are needed to show the importance of each part and exhibit the degrees of importance of your ideas. Three options are available:

Numeral-letter Combination

This method uses numbers as the first degree of division and then uses letters for the second degree of division. Example:

  1. First degree of division.
  2. Second degree of division
  3. Third degree of division
  4. Fourth degree of division
Numerical Form

This is also known as the Decimal system of outlining symbols. It uses whole numbers to designate the major sections of a report, with whole numbers followed by decimals and additional digits indicating subsections of the major sections. Example:

  1. First degree of division
  2. Second degree of division
  3. Third degree of division
Letter-numeral Combination

This system uses letters before main headings and then uses numbers to indicate additional topics. Example:

  1. First degree of heading
  2. Second degree of heading
  3. Third degree of heading
  4. Fourth degree of heading
Follow the heading writing pattern

There are formalized systems of headings and subheadings to identify their sections, subsections, and paragraphs, along with specific styles for writing them systematically.

Check 5 cautions regarding headings and subheadings:
  • Place the most important ideas in the highest degree of headings.
  • Try to balance the sections regarding the number of headings.
  • Have at least two subheadings if you divide any topic.
  • Use about three to seven main points in a report.
  • Avoid using the report title as a section heading.

Maintain a reasonable extent of Outlining

The outline should contain Introduction > Body > Recommendation > Conclusion.

Keep parallelism of construction.

Captions that make up a level of division should be grammatically parallel. In other words, all headings at the same level should be of the same grammatical construction.

Step 5: Preparing Business Report                                               

Now, the intended report will be prepared in a systematic format. It is better to create a draft of the report first. Then, necessary proofreading and revising of the initial draft are done to produce an impressive and effective final draft.

There are many variations in the makeup of a business report. A business report typically consists of three parts: prefatory, report proper, and appended parts.

A long formal report will contain all these parts, but a short or informal report may omit some elements.

The prefatory parts include the title fly, title page, letter of transmittal and authorization, table of contents, and executive summary. These prefatory parts appear before the report text.

The report’s proper parts include the introduction, findings and summaries, conclusions, or recommendations. This section contains the main story and proposed courses of action to address the problem situation.

The appended parts consist of the bibliography, appendix, and index. These contain supplementary materials that are not essential to the report but may be helpful to some readers.

The format of the report will follow the pattern below:

Prefatory parts
Title Fly or Cover Page
Title Page                        
Letter of authorization
Letter of Presentation/Transmittal, preface, of foreword
Acknowledgment
Table of Content and Table of Illustrations
Synopsis or Executive Summary
Report proper
Introduction
Discussion: Findings and analysis
Summaries, conclusions, or recommendations
Appended parts
Bibliography
Appendix
Index

10 FAQs About Business Report

What is the primary purpose of a business report?

The primary purpose of a business report is to inform management about a particular event or issue that they need to be aware of. It presents information discovered through an investigation into a situation that impacts the welfare and profitability of the business.

What characteristics differentiate a business report from other types of reports?

A business report is characterized by orderly communication, objective presentation of facts, serving a specific business purpose, handling large quantities of data, chronological description of facts, being an assigned job, constituting upward communication, and being signed and dated. It also uses past tense and first person and adheres to a set format.

Why is objectivity important in a business report?

Objectivity is crucial in a business report as it maintains an unbiased approach to presenting facts. This unbiased presentation gives management a truthful view of the subject matter, leading to fair and impartial decision-making. It reflects a sophisticated form of ethical thinking.

How does a business report assist in organizational work?

A business report aids in coordinating organizational tasks by providing information about work progress in various departments: these progress reports serve as fundamental documents for task coordination, helping navigate changes, and designing strategies to turn potential consequences into opportunities.

What are the steps involved in writing an effective business report?

Writing an effective business report involves determining the report’s purpose, gathering the needed information, applying the findings to the problem, organizing the information systematically, and finally, writing the report. Each step requires careful consideration and a systematic approach to ensure the report is comprehensive and serves its intended purpose.

What role do business reports play in decision-making within an organization?

Business reports facilitate decision-making by providing timely, relevant, factual information about complex matters. They help management address problems or issues effectively, thereby contributing to informed and strategic decision-making.

How does a business report contribute to reducing administrative costs?

By offering comprehensive and accurate information, business reports enable management to make effective decisions, which can optimize processes and resources, ultimately reducing administrative costs.

Why is it important for a business report to be neutral and unbiased?

Neutrality and unbiasedness in a business report ensure the reliability and credibility of the information presented. It allows for an objective assessment of the situation or issue, which is essential for fair and impartial decision-making.

What is the significance of having a set format in a business report?

Having a set format in a business report ensures consistency, clarity, and systematic presentation of information. It aids in better understanding and interpretation of the report, making it a valuable document for management.

Can you explain the importance of timeliness in preparing a business report?

Timeliness is crucial in preparing a business report as it ensures the relevance and accuracy of the information presented. Promptly prepared reports allow management to make informed decisions based on the most current data, thereby enhancing the report’s usefulness.

Conclusion

Business reports are indispensable in organizational decision-making, providing comprehensive, accurate, and timely information on various aspects of business operations.

The primary purpose of these reports is to inform management about specific events or issues, thereby aiding in formulating strategic responses. The characteristics that set business reports apart include orderly and objective communication, adherence to a set format, and the ability to handle large quantities of data.

The importance of neutrality and unbiasedness in business reports cannot be overstated, as these qualities ensure the reliability and credibility of the information presented, leading to fair and impartial decision-making. Furthermore, the adherence to a set format contributes to the clarity and systematic presentation of information, enhancing the report’s value to management.

Timeliness in report preparation is equally crucial, ensuring the relevance and currentness of the data, which is vital for informed decision-making.

The meticulous process of writing a business report, involving determining the purpose, gathering information, applying findings, and systematic organization, underscores its significance in reducing administrative costs and facilitating strategic planning within an organization.