Reports are not just something a boss is expected to have employees do. They are an important part of the execution process and help to identify what's working and what's not.
Many people, including business owners, feel that reporting is a waste of time. When done correctly, however, reporting is extremely beneficial for all employees.
As a business development tool, StrategyX can help you and any assignee not only make effective reports, but ones that help provide insight into how to scale your business.
Starting with the reason to even report in the first place, let’s take a quick look at how reporting can help your business, as well as some tips and best practices.
So…Why Report at All?
The purpose of a business report is to help provide all employees an analysis of what’s going on inside their business. The ideal business report clarifies how much money is being made and spent, what departments are the most productive, and more.
Business reports are tools for employees of all levels. Less senior employees will better understand what they need to do differently and what is currently working, and more senior employees will be better equipped to make changes and decisions based on the report.
Additionally, from the perspective of shareholders and other involved third parties, a well-put-together public report will inspire confidence in investors. This will help with your business’s public relations and general image.
What Are the Components of World-class Reporting?
It is crucial to have a deep understanding of the individual factors that make up a report. Here are a few of the key performance indicators (KPI) you should be looking for when putting together a report.
Understand the measures that make up and help drive the report. For example, if profit is the measure you are reporting, then revenue and cost of goods sold are both drivers that can affect your overall profit.
Profit becomes just a number without knowing the revenue, cost, and other drivers.
Your chart should be super easy to understand. If you can't immediately tell if you're on track or off track to meet your quarterly goals, for instance, then your chart should be reworked.
The most effective charts tend to be line charts, with one line for your current metrics and another for the target goal. Line charts are easy to understand, and information can be processed in seconds.
The assignee of the report must be able to influence the outcome to prevent any finger-pointing. Otherwise, any meetings around this report will just be complaining that "everyone else" didn't do their jobs.
The assignee should be able to make it clear through detailed yet precise information that clarifies all essential aspects of the report. The assignee should also predict where they anticipate the data point will be the next time they report.
Actions Must Be Suggested and Followed
One of the most common reasons businesses still fail after reports are reviewed is that nothing happens, meaning that no actions are created and taken to put corrections in place. Even if steps are designed and put in place, actions may not be aligned with the report itself.
It is too easy for actions to be disjoined from the report then lost. Ensuring that all employees are actively following the corrective actions and procedures following the report will help your business avoid this problem.
Tips and Tricks for Great Reporting
It is good to review previous report predictions and compare that prediction to the result achieved in the current report.
If the current report's actual result aligns with the previous report's prediction, you can assume the team member assigned to this success factor understands how to manage this measure.
- The frequency of reviewing reports matters. You can have any frequency you like, whether monthly, quarterly, or any other timeframe.
However, the frequency of the report should be determined by its importance. Reporting too frequently within a period can also trivialize the information and reduce its value to everyone.
- If the report measures a critical number, it makes sense to be reported daily or weekly. A more extended period is acceptable if you report less necessary information.
- Keep in mind that the effect of reports will have lagging results. Put another way: your business will see the results from a report after it happened.
If you do a monthly report, there is a good chance there will be a three-month lapse or so from when a report is produced to when the actions designed to influence it are implemented. As a result, it is normal for there not to be any immediate change.
When all is said and done, many business reports are very pretty but not very practical. If everyone can’t tell from looking at the report if you’re winning or losing, then the report is not good.
The best kind of report is one where you can not only get an understanding of the situation, but gain insights into how to continue improving, as well. Reporting, when done well, is like looking into a crystal ball and seeing how the future will unfold.
Reporting is made easy with a strategic planning software platform like StrategyX. As a top-class strategy execution software, StrategyX will allow you and your company to develop a watertight continuous improvement plan and help with countless other aspects of your business.
Have any questions? Consider booking a free demo with us to discuss how StrategyX can improve your processes and workflow. We hope to speak with you soon!