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How to Write a Business Report

By Kenneth Beare, About.com Guide

This section focuses on other documents that you will probably need to write at some point. The most common of these is email, which, as you will see, is much less formal than written letters. Each of the three document types is introduced by an example document and is followed by a guide to writing that particular type of document.

Reports: Example Report

Terms of Reference

Margaret Anderson, Director of Personnel has requested this report on employee benefits satisfaction. The report was to be submitted to her by 28 June.

Procedure

A representative selection of 15% of all employees were interviewed in the period between April 1st and April 15th concerning:

  1. Overall satisfaction with our current benefits package
  2. Problems encountered when dealing with the personnel department
  3. Suggestions for the improvement of communication policies
  4. Problems encountered when dealing with our HMO

Findings

  1. Employees were generally satisfied with the current benefits package.
  2. Some problems were encountered when requesting vacation due to what is perceived as long approval waiting periods.
  3. Older employees repeatedly had problems with HMO prescription drugs procedures.
  4. Employees between the ages of 22 and 30 report few problems with HMO.
  5. Most employees complain about the lack of dental insurance in our benefits package.
  6. The most common suggestion for improvement was for the ability to process benefits requests online.

Conclusions

  1. Older employees, those over 50, are having serious problems with our HMO's ability to provide prescription drugs.
  2. Our benefits request system needs to be revised as most complaints concerning in-house processing.
  3. Improvements need to take place in personnel department response time.
  4. Information technology improvements should be considered as employees become more technologically savvy.

Recommendations

  1. Meet with HMO representatives to discuss the serious nature of complaints concerning prescription drug benefits for older employees.
  2. Give priority to vacation request response time as employees need faster approval in order to be able to plan their vacations.
  3. Take no special actions for the benefits package of younger employees.
  4. Discuss the possibility of adding an online benefits requests system to our company Intranet.

Important Points to Remember

  • A report is divided into four areas:
    • Terms of Reference- This section gives background information on the reason for the report. It usually includes the person requesting the report.
    • Procedure- The procedure provides the exact steps taken and methods used for the report.
    • Findings- The findings point out discoveries made during the course of the report investigation.
    • Conclusions- The conclusions provide logical conclusions based on the findings.
    • Recommendations- The recommendations state actions that the writer of the report feels need to be taken based on the findings and conclusions.
  • Reports should be concise and factual. Opinions are given in the "conclusions" section. However, these opinions should be based on facts presented in the "findings".
  • Use simple tenses (usually the present simple) to express facts.
  • Use the imperative form (Discuss the possibility ..., Give priority ..., etc.) in the "recommendations" section as these apply to the company as a whole.

·         From: Management

·         To: Northwest Area Sales Staff

·         RE: New Monthly Reporting System

We’d like to quickly go over some of the changes in the new monthly sales reporting system that we discussed at Monday’s special meeting. First of all, we'd once again like to stress that this new system will save you a lot of time when reporting future sales. We understand that you have concerns about the amount of time that will be initially required for inputting your client data. Despite this initial effort, we are confident that you will all soon enjoy the benefits of this new system.

Here is a look at the procedure you will need to follow to complete your area's client list:

  1. Log on to the company web site at http://www.picklesandmore.com
  2. Enter your user ID and password. These will be issued next week.
  3. Once you have logged on, click on "New Client".
  4. Enter the appropriate client information.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have entered all of your clients.
  6. Once this information has been entered, select "Place Order".
  7. Choose the client from the drop down list "Clients".
  8. Choose the products from the drop down list "Products".
  9. Choose the shipping specifications from the drop down list "Shipping".
  10. Click on the "Process Order" button.

As you can see, once you have entered the appropriate client information, processing orders will require NO paperwork on your part.

Thank you all for your help in putting this new system into place.

Best regards,

Management

Important Points to Remember

  • Use the following structure to begin a memo:

MEMO

From: (person or group sending the memo)

To: (person or group to whom the memo is addressed)

RE: (the subject of the memo, this should be in bold)

  • The term "memorandum" can be used instead of "memo".
  • A memo is generally is not as formal as a written letter. However, it is certainly not as informal as a personal letter.
  • The tone of a memo is generally friendly as it is a communication between colleagues.
  • Keep the memo concise and to the point.
  • If necessary, introduce the reason for the memo with a short paragraph.
  • Use bullet points to explain the most important steps in a process.
  • Use a short thank you to finish the memo. This need not be as formal as in a written letter.

Example 1: Formal

Hello,

I read on your web site that you offer Music CD copying for large quantities of CDs. I'd like to inquire about the procedures involved in these services. Are the files transferred online, or are the titles sent by CD to you by standard mail? How long does it usually take to produce approximately 500 copies? Are there any discounts on such a large quantity?

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I look forward to your response.

Jack Finley
Sales Manager, Young Talent Inc.
            (709) 567 - 3498      

Example 2: Informal

At 16.22 01/07/2002 +0000, you wrote:

> I hear you're working on the Smith account. If you need any information don't hesitate to get in > contact with me.

Hi Tom,

Listen, we've been working on the Smith account and I was wondering if you could give me a hand? I need some inside information on recent developments over there. Do you think you could pass on any information you might have?

Thanks

Peter

Peter Thompsen
Account Manager, Tri-State Accounting
(698) 345 - 7843

Important Points to Remember

  • Email is much less formal than a written letter. Emails are usually short and concise.
  • If you are writing to someone you don't know, a simple "Hello" is adequate. Using a salutation such as "Dear Mr Smith," is too formal.
  • When writing to someone you know well, feel free to write as if you are speaking to the person.
  • Use abbreviated verb forms (He's, We're, He'd, etc.)
  • Include a telephone number to the signature of the email. This will give the recipient the chance to telephone if necessary.
  • It is not necessary to include your email address as the recipient can just reply to the email.
  • When replying eliminate all the information that is not necessary. Only leave the sections of text that are related to your reply. This will save your reader time when reading your email.