The purpose of a management report is to help a business make better decisions. Often, these reports use data to track key performance indicators.
A management report can indicate the value of a business over a particular timescale. The report will detail the organization's financial and operational status to enable management to gain a clear overview. When presenting a management report, it is critical the information is legible. It is only with clear visualizations that senior staff can extract meaningful, actionable insights. This will empower leadership to increase efficiency and devise strategies for generating revenue. In this article, we discuss five keys to producing a clear, concise and useful management report.
1. Define goals and objectives
Before beginning to write a report, team members should have the end goal in mind. Therefore, there are several key questions that should be at the forefront of the approach. For instance, why produce the report in the first place? Does the team understand the principle drivers of your business? How can the team be sure the product is reaching the most profitable customer segments? Once goals and objectives are set, defining the key performance indicators will be far easier.
2. Know your audience
Once the KPIs have been identified it is important to further refine the list. For example, the KPIs shown in a management report should take into account the audience. The report should be tailored towards the function, seniority, and interests of the group. A good way to begin this process is to consider what information the audience will hope to gain from the data presented.
3. Use engaging anecdotal evidence
Although figures and hard data are the foundation of a compelling report, the speaker should diversify their strategies to keep the audience engaged. Generally, anecdotal evidence or narrative techniques are a vital complement to data-driven reporting.
4. Visualize focus
Most people cannot process complex data sets without feeling fatigued. This saturation will inhibit the management’s ability to make strategic decisions. This is why when devising a management report, the data visualization should be clear, slick and focussed. For example, displaying approximately three to six KPIs on a report tends to be enough to cover the essential points without inundating the audience. However, this does not mean you should not share other data – it just means you should present it hierarchically. Therefore, staff should use clear visualizations to indicate essential and ancillary information.
5. Utilize digital techniques
If one thing is for certain, paper reporting is a thing of the past. Paper reports have been superseded by digital presentations that use snapshots from your data analysis system. From here, reports can be interactive, engaging and detailed. Furthermore, if your business uses collaborative IT tools, then the entire team can contribute to the report.
Enhance communication with a thorough management report
For departments across any organization, a management report is critical to operations. Reporting becomes all the more important as companies grow; as the stakes get higher and the profit margins wider, cross-disciplinary decisions become increasingly important. Overall, effective management reporting is crucial to a business as they enable senior staff to measure strategic metrics; monitor performance; set benchmarks; and enable the business to learn from its track record. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, robust management reporting improves communication and clarity across the organization.