Best Management Reporting Practices For Effective Reporting

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 2 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A management report provides understandable insights or key performance indicators (KPIs) regarding the functions of several departments. This allows managers and leaders to reflect on and resolve various business concerns and plan data-driven initiatives that connect with the organisation's goals. Learning about management reporting can help you prepare a report with a wide variety of data in an easily understandable format. In this article, we define management reporting, list the best management reporting practices for effective reporting and review a few common types of management reports.

What Is Management Reporting?

Management reporting is the process of gathering information to help managers run their departments more effectively. A successful company uses managerial reports to monitor a department's KPIs and to assist managers in making informed decisions. These decisions can involve everything from cost-cutting to determining how many people are suitable for a department.

A management report often contains a wide range of data. Effective management reporting involves presenting the relevant data considering the audience. Though there might be some overlap and a few differences in the information, for instance, the floor manager of a retail store may require different information than the marketing manager. Data on employee hours and sales figures are helpful to floor managers, but a marketing manager requires details on email sign-ups and social media activity.

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Best Management Reporting Practices For Effective Reporting

Effective management reporting practices enable accurate decision-making, maintain customer focus and aid in early problem detection and problem-solving, saving time and effort. Following are a few key reporting practices you can consider:

Start with the objectives

To help ensure your report has clear objectives, mention them at the beginning. This helps keep the aim in your readers' minds. Because of their busy schedules, managers and executives frequently find themselves overwhelmed with figures that offer little to no immediate context. Every data analysis and strategy in a management report aims to assist a company in achieving its business goals. Stating the company's goal and objective at the start helps align the remaining parts of the report and makes the analysis and inputs in the report meaningful.

While writing a management report, clearly describe the company's major purpose in the first few sections. This provides the readers with a point of reference for the report's contents. They can easily comprehend how the company coordinates its long-term objectives with its strategic initiatives. Including goals at the beginning of the report benefits you and the reader. It also reminds you of the KPIs you monitor and the performance elements to include in the report.

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Keep the report to the point

The goal of a management report is to make analysis simple for management. Use plain language. The information may become difficult to understand if it contains jargon or tricky words. Instead of using lengthy paragraphs to explain the topic, provide key takeaways. Make sure there are no possibilities for misunderstanding, even if the reports include enormous amounts of data.

Keep the report content clear and concise, with easily readable summaries and objectives. Managers can then use the information to coordinate their teams towards the goals. Use bullet points and leave enough white space in the slides to make your report simple to read. Make the report scannable and eliminate any redundant text.

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Decide the relevant KPIs

KPIs are essential for demonstrating to management the performance of their department. Every department may require a unique set of KPIs and the included data to provide insight into the effect on previous decisions and initiatives. A floor manager requires awareness of their sales team performance to provide training. Consider the report's intended audience and think about what data-driven queries they may have.

Incorporate customer feedback

Customers are among the essential components of a business. In particular departments, you can utilise online survey data to show failures and successes. The data may indicate a successful outcome based on feedback. Consider a website that does not receive plenty of visitors. Feedback and survey results may suggest that the site is not mobile-friendly. This report can show a project manager where adjustments may be helpful.

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Add context to data

Many individuals rely on context, content and meaning to comprehend information, particularly numerical data. A proper beginning and end for a data visualisation may help clarify the objectives and answer many potential questions. Describing a certain transaction's impact might be simple when comparing a goal revenue estimate to the actual revenue number. You can provide a context for the predicted revenue using historical information, such as last year's actual revenue. The more narratively you can utilise facts, the more effectively you can convey your message in the report.

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Make it visually appealing

Text blocks immediately after each other might strain the eyes. Aesthetically balance your report to make sure it is easy to review. You can achieve this by combining data with some images like screenshots and charts. Pay special attention to visual hierarchy, and show the most crucial information first. Choose a font size and style that is simple to read as a general guideline. Use brand colours to create an on-brand report that is also aesthetically appealing.

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Tell a story

Storytelling is a fantastic method to engage your reader and clarify your point of view. You can use storytelling in management reporting to describe segment operations and suggest ways to improve them. To demonstrate to management how your team has progressed or can perform better, for instance, compare prior statistics with the current one. You can compare factual data with goals for the period besides previous and present data.

This kind of narrative may help persuade the decision-makers to implement particular modifications for corporate success. You may use the reports as a strategy to direct managers towards their next steps and support action plans. This may involve some storytelling, but it makes the reports more interesting and easy to read. Compared to just a screen full of numbers, it is more powerful. The report's pie charts, descriptions and conclusions also help improve the management reporting.

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Stay unbiased

It is natural for you to build bonds with your colleagues. If you let these attachments influence your management report by omitting facts or presenting erroneous conclusions, the report's results may become ineffective. This may have larger repercussions than the inconvenience of evaluating a colleague objectively and may affect your credibility. What presented a challenge for the employee might become a challenge for you and the company's overall performance.

By eliminating any personal predisposition from the process, you can focus on what is in the business's best interest and act with integrity. A truthful account enables the organisation to make informed judgments and gives the underperforming employee a chance to change that they may not otherwise have. This benefits you, the organisation and the progress of the individual concerned.

Educate the team

To maximise the impact of management reporting, ensure the entire team is on board and active in the data collection and use standard processes. If there is a disconnect between the executives, department heads and project managers, and employees regarding how they collect data, how to use the programme, the everyday benefits of the system and the consequences of not adhering to company-wide procedures, any new implementation may be ineffective. Education is essential when implementing new technology, but it may not always be a laborious endeavour.

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Types Of Reports For Management

Management reporting may serve various purposes depending on the department, the report's content, or the topic it answers. Here are a few examples of the various management reports:

Scheduled management reports

Depending on the organisation, it may prepare scheduled reports routinely, such as every week, month or year. This is the most prevalent type of management reporting and each report includes the same kind of data. Project management reporting is one type of scheduled report that concentrates on a specific department.

Related: What Is An Annual Report? (Definition And How To Use One)

On-demand management reports

When compared to planned reports, on-demand reports are often more specific. Usually, a particular event or occurrence leads to preparing such reports. For instance, if client satisfaction sharply decreases, the manager or executives may ask for a management report to find the reasons.

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Predictive management reports

The ability to use data to forecast future trends helps make predictive reports. They are a fascinating component of business analytics and management reporting. A predictive management report can significantly impact decision-making and is often helpful in forecasting an organisation's future sales and profitability.

Regulatory management reports

This may include financial reporting that a nation's or state's legal system mandates, such as regulatory reporting. This area comprises reporting for management accounting. Tax-related profit–loss statements and year-end accounts are regulatory management reporting. Though this information is useful for providing a general overview, it often lacks the specifics required for decision-making.

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