Today, business operations span across the globe. The presence of multinational companies, and trends like outsourcing, offshore projects and foreign contracts have made business global. In such arrangements, employees are expected to communicate with their customers, clients or bosses who are located in some other part of the world through means like teleconferences, video conferences or e-mails.
Report making ensures activity tracking
Reporting is a good way of putting the information forward to concerned people. Many organisations make it mandatory to make reports periodically, at each level and department, of inventories, resources, status of every task and work done by an employee during a particular period of time and send it to the next level of authority. This will keep up the flow of communication. It also improves transparency of operations and focus on a specific entity. Reports of performance of teams or jobs can be derived from them and they will give an insight into the overall performance or state of an organisation. Every organisation requires some kind of reports and hence the science of report making must be well learnt and practiced.
In fact organisations even train employees in making reports. There are software tools available to automate the process. Companies are ready to invest in these to get customised versions that cater to their norms. In the absence of such specific tools, options like MS Word or MS Excel cater well to basic needs.
Though the requirements from a report and attributes of it differ from organisation to organisation, there are some basic expectations from it. They are:
Clarity: The reports must be clear and easily comprehensible. They must be logically structured and written using straightforward language.
Content: Make sure the report contains the relevant matter and is to the point. A report is used basically to convey the important aspects of a subject. The receiver must not spend too much of time to find the information he wants. The details can be conveyed later on demand. Sometimes, you can make multiple reports with one giving the gist and other giving precise details of each aspect involved.
Style: An official report is expected to have a professional look. If you are using a word processor, use the table option or bullets instead of paragraphs, to present the data. If you are using a tool like MS Excel, name the columns properly. Do not use too many colours, font styles and sizes to make it look jazzy. Though a difference in fonts and colours is allowed to differentiate between various items in it, limit it to two or three. Use templates and stick to the norms if they are prescribed.
Facts: Make sure the report showcases the realities. A report must cater to its purpose and should not include any false information. Avoid anticipations, guesses and opinions in it.
Audience: Consider the audience while making reports. When a report on performance of a team is asked for, a vice president may require a brief idea of it. So giving him a report on the amount of work done by the team in the past few weeks would be sufficient. When a manager asks for the same, he might want to know about the contributions of each employee or job completed on each day. HR personnel may expect to gain knowledge about the efforts of each person in order to use it to decide on appraisals. It is better to clarify on the specific requirements before making your report.
Once a report is made it is a good practice to retain a copy for further reference. Seek acknowledgement of receipt. Send copies to related people if necessary.
Practice report making to ensure a track of activities, resources and contributions. It not only helps your superiors but also you for easy assessment and planning.
Nitya Sai Soumya
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