Business reports are often required almost in every company. When your company needs to make an important decision, a business report is created to help the decision-makers.

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. Definition of 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.

A traditional business report is often presented in a textual form for a specific purpose, containing several parts such as the table of content, executive summary, body part, conclusion, etc. Although the report is organized in a logical way, some weaknesses exist in the traditional preparing and presenting process. Collecting relevant data and information can be very time-consuming in a conventional manner. And a report with plenty of statistical data or words is not intuitive enough to read and comprehend. Besides, traditional reports are unable to show the latest data. 

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

Total investment amount

2. Types of Business Reports

As we mentioned above, business reports are created for different purposes. Companies in different fields definitely have various analytical purposes. For example, a retail company needs frequent business reports about sales performance, while a financial company requires an investment supervision report. So there are various types of business reports to meet different requirements. The following are some common types of business reports.

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

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 data 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

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

Research Reports

As the name suggests, a research report is produced after analyzing the data and information collected through comprehensive research. When your company attempts to have some explorations, such as designing a new product or popularizing your product in a new region, you need to do market research first in order to evaluate the feasibility of the plans. It is time-consuming to create a research report while the result is 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

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. But some common steps are indispensable in the process of creating them. 

Step 1: Identify the Purpose and Type of Your 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 having a clear understanding of its purpose. After that, it is definitely 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 Your Report

After determining the type of the 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 labor-intensive.

Luckily, there is another simpler way. I personally recommend using reporting tools. With the help of some specially-designed tools, you can obtain the information you need from different 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. In order to avoid the inconsistency and inefficiency caused by transmissions for several times, you can try FineReport, a professional reporting tool specializing in business intelligence. As long as you are authorized with certain 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
System connection by FineReport

Step 3: Organize and Visualize the Content of Your 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. And 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 Your 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 again 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. In fact, 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

Creating a fantastic business report totally by oneself is not very easy, especially for a beginner. Therefore, it is more suitable and efficient to follow some business report samples and examples, such as the ones in the following part.

Regional Business Analysis

Regional business analysis
Regional business analysis by FineReport

Analysis of Total Receivables and Payables

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

Business Retrospective Dashboard

Business retrospective dashboard
Business retrospective dashboard by FineReport

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 in the creation steps. 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 a business report.

For the Creator

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.

For Readers 

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.

6. At Last

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 have a try.

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