Business reports are essential for decision-making in companies, providing crucial information for important choices.

If it is the first time for you to create a business report, you may be confused by these questions: What is a business report? How can I write a professional business report? Continuing to read this guide will clear up your confusion.

1. What is a Business Report?

A business report is a formal document that objectively provides statistical data, summarizes historical facts, and sometimes offers reasonable recommendations for a company’s managers. 

Business reports are important for a company, especially for a large company. Companies need them to ensure the accuracy and consistency of the business information which is sometimes transmitted through a long chain. Most importantly, business reports enable managers to access information about a specific project or an overview of the company’s operation and then make a data-driven decision.

Traditional business reports are typically presented in a textual format with sections like the table of contents, executive summary, body, and conclusion. Despite their logical organization, there are drawbacks in the traditional preparation and presentation process, including time-consuming data collection, challenges in readability for reports with extensive statistical data or content, and the inability to reflect the latest data.

Fortunately, some business reports and business dashboards successfully overcome these weak points. Therefore, you must have a basic understanding of these newly developed business reports and dashboards, which will improve your efficiency in creating and reading business reports.

Business Report Example
Business Report Example (By FineReport)

Note: The report and dashboard examples in this article are all built-in templates made by FineReport, the leading BI reporting tool in the Asian-Pacific region.

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2. Types of Business Reports

Business reports serve diverse purposes tailored to specific industry needs. For instance, a retail company relies on regular sales performance reports, while a financial company requires investment supervision reports. This variety of analytical purposes leads to different types of reporting. Here are some common examples.

2.1 Progress Reports

A progress report is a document used to directly display the performance of completing a certain goal. Therefore, it requires a direct presentation of the progress done so far instead of an in-depth analysis. What needs to be included in this report is the factual information about the work itself.

The following is an example of a modern progress report. It empowers your team members to know how much you have done, how productive you were before, and how far you are from your goals. If the report reflects previous inefficiencies in your district, you should adjust your later plans to ensure the timely completion of your goals.

progress report
Process report by FineReport

2.2 Informational Reports

An informational report faithfully displays factual information without interpretations and analytical information. It shares some features with a progress report, but some differences exist. The content of the informational report is not limited to the progress of specific goals. It can provide various types of information, depending on different purposes, such as the sales report by region, the employees’ information report, etc.

Modern informational reports contain plenty of information within just one dashboard. Let’s take the Sales Leaderboard as an example. Readers can not only obtain the overall sales information of the top 10 employees but also view their respective sales performance through the linkage between these components. 

Informational report
Informational report by FineReport

2.3 Analytical Reports

An analytical report not only simply presents historical information but also analyzes the data and sometimes provides forecasts for the reader’s reference. The content of analytical reports can be the comparison of the sales performance between this quarter and last quarter or among several different regions. 

Here is a business dashboard supporting multi-dimensional sales analysis. You can easily access the data in different dimensions with a simple click. Also, this sales dashboard is much more readable with the help of colorful charts and tables. 

Utilizing an analytical report allows managers to make significant decisions with the support of sufficient data and information.

Multi-dimensional sales analysis
Multi-dimensional sales analysis by FineReport

2.4 Research Reports

A research report is generated after analyzing data collected through comprehensive research. When exploring initiatives like designing a new product or expanding into a new region, market research is essential to assess plan feasibility. Though creating a research report is time-consuming, the results are worthwhile.

Here is an example of a cockpit supported by research, which empowers your company’s managers to know the performance of various products and sales performance of different stores in many cities. As a result, they can decide whether to open or close stores in a city to ensure the healthy development of your company.

Research report
Sales data cockpit by FineReport

2.5 KPI Reports

KPI Report
KPI Report by FineReport

A KPI report offers business executives a streamlined method to analyze essential performance metrics (KPIs) and gauge organizational progress against strategic objectives. Modern KPI reports feature interactive dashboards for easy access to underlying data, enabling non-technical users to identify patterns, establish connections, and spot anomalies. These insights support informed decision-making and contribute to enhanced business outcomes.

The primary purpose of the Financial KPI Report is to track and analyze various financial ratios and indicators, including profit margins, liquidity ratios, solvency ratios, and efficiency ratios. These indicators provide insights into the company’s profitability, financial stability, operational efficiency, and overall financial management.

The report samples in this chapter are created using FineReport, a professional enterprise-level reporting tool. With FineReport, users effortlessly connect to databases, including Excel, to retrieve data and build business reports through simple drag-and-drop actions. It offers diverse built-in chart templates for seamless data visualization, facilitating the development of concise data analysis systems. FineReport’s use enables the construction of flexible reporting systems, reducing project cycles and implementation costs. Ultimately, it addresses information silos, ensuring that data realizes its inherent value.

3. How to Create a Powerful Business Report? (Steps & Tool)

As we all know, business reports have different types, resulting in various business report formats. However, some common steps are indispensable in the process of creating business reports. 

Step 1: Identify the Purpose and Type of the Business Report

By reading the previous part of this guide, you must know that the purpose determines your business report’s content. Therefore, the first step in creating a powerful business report is clearly understanding its purpose. After that, it is not difficult for you to choose the proper type of business report. 

For example, if the goal of the report is to analyze the sales performance in different regions, it is more suitable for you to write an analytical report instead of a simple progress report without any analysis and recommendations.

Step 2: Collect Data and Information Related to the Business Report

After determining the type of business report, we come to the second step. It is time for you to gather relevant data and information. There are many ways to collect information, among which email is one of the most commonly used ways to receive and send documents. If the data and information are stored in different systems, you have to export several documents or tables from these systems one by one and then summarize, filter, and analyze the data you need. This cross-system operation is time-consuming and labour-intensive.

Luckily, there is another simpler way. I recommend using reporting tools. Utilize specially designed tools to access the necessary information from various systems at any time.

Taking the business report we mentioned in the previous step as an example, you need sales information from branches in different regions. To avoid the inconsistency and inefficiency caused by transmissions several times, you can try FineReport, a professional reporting tool specializing in business intelligence. As long as you are authorized with specific permissions, it is very convenient for you to access the sales data of different regions on one platform and export the data you need directly.

System connection by FineReport
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Step 3: Organize and Visualize the Content of the Business Report

The step following the data and information collection is organizing your report content. You can first determine the metrics of your business report depending on its specific purpose. Taking the sales performance report as an example, we often see some common indicators such as sales income, sales profit, sales cost, and sales performance. 

Then it is time to put your data and information in a logical and understandable way. However, it will be a little tedious or even difficult to read a report full of words and statistical data. Therefore, you can use some tables and charts to improve the readability of your business reports. Maybe it would be a little demanding for a business person to create fantastic charts through Excel. So you can use tools to visualize your data, such as the tool we mentioned above, FineReport. It offers you multiple self-developed charts to meet different requirements. What you need to do is to import your data and information into this tool and wait for the visualized charts. Besides the predefined styles, you can also customize the appearance of the components. 

Finally, through a simple drag-and-drop operation, you can arrange these components in the report according to a certain logic. An excellent business report is finished, such as the following sales analysis report:

Overall sales performance
Overall sales performance by FineReport

Step 4: Automatically Update the Business Report

The data in the report needs to be updated in time to empower the managers to make more timely and accurate decisions. Traditionally, the data is no longer up-to-date when the readers get the business report. Repeating the same steps to create a new business report is very time-consuming, and some repetitive work will be generated in this process. Therefore, companies need modern business reports which can be updated automatically. Some reporting software, such as FineReport, has already been developed to realize the automatic updating of data in the business dashboard

I will explain the function with the example of an employee information dashboard. You can create an Employee Information Report for every employee to fill in. With the powerful function of data entry provided by FineReport, as long as the new employee fills in the form, the data will be uploaded to the database, and the corresponding dashboard will be automatically updated. There is no need to export and import the form and remake the report again.

Employee information
Employee information by FineReport
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4. Business Report Samples & Examples

Crafting an impressive business report independently, especially for beginners, can be challenging. Thus, it is more suitable and efficient to refer to business report samples and examples, as presented in the following section.

4.1 Regional Business Analysis

Regional business analysis
Regional business analysis by FineReport

4.2 Analysis of Total Receivables and Payables

Analysis of total receivables and payables
Analysis of total receivables and payables by FineReport

4.3 Business Retrospective Dashboard

Business retrospective dashboard
Business retrospective dashboard by FineReport

4.4 Marketing Dashboard

Marketing analysis
Marketing analysis by FineReport

5. The Ultimate Tool for Making Business Reports

The above fantastic business report examples are all created by one powerful reporting tool, FineReport, which we have mentioned before. It not only provides you with wonderful charts but also offers you a series of useful business report templates. It has some benefits for both the creator and the readers of the business report.

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5.1 For the Creator of the Business Report

FineReport supports connecting different systems to avoid the inconvenience caused by collecting data and information from isolated systems. Besides, it eases the application of complicated charts and tables in your business reports. And you can choose different business report templates according to different purposes. In addition, FineReport provides the function of real-time refreshing, which frees you from repetitive updating work.

5.2 For Readers of the Business Report

One of the most crucial functions of this tool is data visualization. It is much easier for a reader to analyze data with charts and graphs intuitively showing the increase and decrease of some indicators. Also, the updating function allows the reader to get the latest information and make timely decisions. What’s more, the business reports and dashboards can also be viewed on the mobile terminal, allowing you to view and analyze data anywhere and anytime.

Project Dashboard (by FineReport)

6. A Conclusion of the Business Report

After reading the whole guide, I believe that your confusion has been cleared up. If you want to write business reports in the future, you can try the tool recommended above to make your report more intuitive and convenient. FineReport is free for you to try.

Feel free to make an appointment for a live demo with our product experts. We will be more clear about your needs and see how FineReport can help you and your organization transform data into value.

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