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Regardless of whether you are in Sales, Marketing, Finance or Management – at some point in time you may be required to right a business report on some aspect of your work. Now while this may not be a core skill or requirement in your role, the ability to write a good business report can make you stand out and get noticed and is very good for your career.
- A business report is normally divided into four parts:
- The terms of reference: which gives us background information on the report and also why the report exists, it usually references the person requesting the report.
- Procedure: This includes the steps taken to compile the report, including any methods etc. that have been incorporated.
- Findings: Any discoveries that have been made during the course of the investigation
- Conclusions: logical conclusions derived by the author based on the findings of the report.
- Recommendations: The recommendations are the actions the writer of the report feels needs to be taken based on the findings and conclusions.
When writing reports, keep in mind that they need to be concise and factual and should stick to the point, opinions should be given in the ‘conclusions’ section, while facts should be presented in the ‘findings’ section. In this podcast, we will talk about the six parts of the business report that you need to incorporate into your writing:
- The Executive Summary
- Introduction or Terms of reference
- Findings / Main Body
1. The Executive Summary
The executive summary is one of the most important sections in the document; it includes a summary of all the key points mentioned in the report. Its purpose is so that someone can read just the summary and come away with crux of the report. It usually tells the reader if the report is worth reading further and also includes all parts of the report in it in brief. Ideally, this should be written last after compiling the report.
The contents portion of the report should be laid out in a consistent manner and should include both page numbers and title numbers. This should be placed before the executive summary and is usually one of the last things to be written.
3. Introduction or Terms of reference
The introduction clearly states the purpose of the report, or why it has been written. Reports are normally written to solve business problems, or complied during a crisis. Some are also part of routine work. Most are concerned with answering a simple question – how can we increase profits?
4. Findings / Main Body
It may not be mentioned as findings, but this section is all about the information you have gathered. This may not be read by everyone, but it details all the steps, methods and information that let you to make the conclusions and recommendations that you have made.
This section is a summary of the findings section, and should not include any diagrams or charts. This summarises the findings in a short and concise manner and then leads the reader directly to the recommendations portion of the report. There should be no new information in this section.
All reports should include either recommendations or suggestions, this could indicate what the return on investment would be. It is important that this is directly linked to your conclusions section.