Report writing in an essential skill at all levels of business. Writing clear, concise reports is a key skill for effective business communication. An effective, well-written report can drive sales, create more cohesive and better-functioning teams, streamline processes, and improve financial operations. Reports can alert management to opportunities for business growth, identify areas where greater efficiency can be realized and establish cohesive business procedures. Because it is so essential to the functioning of most businesses, report writing is considered one of the most important forms of business communication.
Report writing, because it is such an important part of business communication, must be well planned. Important considerations include knowing the audience for whom the report is being written, the reasons for writing the report, the end purpose for which the report is intended and the specific staffers needed to contribute information that is essential to the completion of the report. It is vital to determine the number of business resources that will go in to the writing of the report and to compare the value of these resources to the net return expected from the creation of the report. If many valuable resources are needed for writing a report, but the report will only produce a small benefit, then it is not an effective project. A less time-consuming form of business communication, such as a memorandum, may be what is needed.
Once all considerations have been examined and documented, the writer of the report--or the project head if several writers are creating the report--constructs a plan. Planning is essential to effective business communication, nowhere more so than in report writing. A comprehensive plan for writing a report includes the timeline for creation of the report, needed materials, a list of all contributors and all necessary collateral supplies and materials, such as artwork.
Production is the major step in all business communication projects. In report writing, production can take as little as a day or as long as several months, depending on the scope of the project. It is important to consult the plan periodically during long report-writing projects to ensure that the project is on track for timely completion.
A report is normally reviewed by at least the writer before it is delivered to its final recipients. Good grammar and style are needed for all business communication, so the review should include--at a minimum--a review of spelling and punctuation. If time permits, a more extensive review of content should be performed. If possible, the proofreader should be someone who is seeing the material anew; "fresh eyes" are apt to spot typos or grammatical problems that someone who has been closely involved in creating the report may not catch.
Delivering a report can take several forms: A report may be presented as a slide show and discussion, printed and emailed in whole to recipients or divided into several sections and delivered over several weeks to different recipients. A shorter version of a long report may be presented, while the full version is provided in print. Delivery methods are dictated by the length of the report, the availability of the writer to present the findings, and the geographic locations of the recipients.
Christina Inge is a freelance writer, marketer and designer with more than 12 years experience in the consumer and business-to-business fields. She has a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in adult education and instructional technology. Her interests include technology, marketing, textiles and health.