Business reports are all about conveying information. Not just any information, but essential information such as the facts, figures and analysis of a situation. The whole point of reports is to give a company the information it needs to make major decisions and plan for the future. Businesses can prepare budgets, business plans, make advertising decisions and much more based on the information in a report. When it comes to different business reports, formatting is critical to making the report instantly recognizable and quick and easy to read without missing the most important information.
Analytical reports are essential when a company is on the cusp of making crucial decisions. In such cases, the leadership needs an analysis of the company's situation. An analytical report will present relevant data with explanations and even conclude the status quo. For example, in the case of a quarterly operations analysis, the report will include actions taken by the executive team, the sales revenue and the net profit or loss during the quarter. Normal business operations that occurred during that quarter are analyzed and explained in the analytical report, helping the business to make sound decisions going forward.
Informational reports present non-biased facts without presuming to explain the “whys” and “what ifs” of the situation. If you need objective information on something, then you ask for an informational report. If you would like to know about the structure of a company, such as the number of employees, the departments they work in and what role each employee plays in the organization, then an informational report is required. Site visit reports, training feedback reports and the quick update you write to a department head all fall under the category of informational report.
The information can be presented in myriad ways, such as a table showing employee names, salaries and so on, a graph or a pie-chart. You might also want an informational report detailing the company expenditures broken down into different departments and covering different time frames. The information report typically represents a building block that goes into creating the other, more complex types of reports such as analytical and research reports.
Research reports are the most comprehensive types of reports. They are typically required when a company is contemplating venturing into new territories, such as offering a new product or going into a new geographical area. A research report involves giving a topic to a team of researchers or specialists and asking them for all the relevant details and statistics gleaned from an informational report, followed by an in-depth analysis of the situation found in an analytical report. The research report will include their conclusions on the matter in light of the available data as well as some alternatives. As you can see, a research report is a kind of hybrid between an analytical and an information report. Its purpose is to help executives in making major decisions. As such, research reports are the most complex and time-consuming type of business reports to prepare.