Friday, 10 August 2012

What makes a report good?

Communicating results, achievements, progress or status to anybody for any reason requires experience and  the necessary flexibility to adjust the perspective you want to give.

There are quite often and for many cases situations where the obvious is not the logic thing to be exposed, instead focusing on certain areas or sections of a report might be the desired.

In most of the cases - if not to all - focusing on parts of the report always depends on the group audience that the report is shipped to.

1) Imagine sending a report of your achievements to your supervisor or boss: you want to focus on the good parts of your work, increase exposure and self esteem so to get more appreciation on your outcome, so to become  evaluated, showing the advantages of you being the employee under supervision . 

2) As a second assumption I will take the case when sending a report of progress and a bit of a status for an activity that is closely related with more than one people, colleagues, supervisors, managers, without having the need to indicate activity, it can be anything.

This report should be neutral, sharp and strictly professional. Showing positive and negative sides equally balanced in the report is a must, as this will ensure that people who will further process and evaluate the results wont be biased.

There is no room for sensitivity or personal opinion, 1+1 =2 as the evaluation of the status and results in a report usually is followed by serious decision making!

3) Now let's imagine yourself responsible to report status, progress and results for a completed activity to your client/customer.

A client/customer is always right first of all and this is a generic rule that people do respect.

The client/customer is the one requested from you in the first place the development of a product or the offering of a service.

You do want to report the actual situation, however you need to avoid reporting unnecessary things that the client does not need to know, as will be of no value to him.

Failing to cut off info in such reports:

  •  the best scenario is to have a rich report with lots of info in it, that most probably part of it will be ignored;
  • the worst case scenario is to have yourself answering to questions raised by the customer for things that shouldn't be aware of. 
Reporting has to respect two things: 

  • The Time that the data is exported for building the Final Report;
  • The Audience that is going to be sent.
The perspective is not always the same and something that suits one group does  not fit for another, so consider carefully every time you report: what do you include, when do you include it and for whom do you prepare it.

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