5 Steps To Writing The Best Formal Business Report.

Formal Business Report- Business organizations depend on formal and informal reports for them to make decisions. It is important for a report writer to identify the type that a situation requires and follow the laid-down steps for writing such a report.

Formal Business Report

However, in this article we would talk about the process of writing a formal business report. The process of writing a formal business report starts from the planning stage before the actual writing and does not end until proper editing of drafts and the final copy is done.

That is to say those activities in the pre- writing, writing and post-writing stages must be carefully observed or carried out. Below is a brief discussion of the stages involved in formal report writing process.

What Is  A Business Report

A business report is a specialized, factual and planned written account that examines a problem, gathers information, prepares findings and makes recommendations to influence decision-making in an organization. This is because businesses rely on facts, findings and recommendations to progress and achieve set objectives.

Organizations usually want to solve problems and they therefore commission some of their workers or independent research organizations to examine a situation, obtain findings, draw conclusions, make recommendations and present the results with the sole purpose of influencing decision making.

Difference Between Formal And Informal Business Report.

There are certain major differences between formal and informal reports.

If you are well acquainted with these differences, you can quickly adapt your knowledge of report writing to the wide variety of reports.

The Significant difference between formal and informal reports stands out as follows:

  • Informal Reports:

informal reports are usually very short and used in communicating day-to-day information in a business organisation. For example, a memo is used in communicating information to individuals within an organisation.

It contains only a title and a short body which is all about actions to be taken, instructions to be noted or special information that must be documented.

Another example is a letter which is used both internally and externally to exchange information. Business organisations use informal reports more often than formal reports. Also, progress reports, periodic reports and technical reports are forms of informal reports.

  • Formal Reports:

It deal with complex issues that are crucial to the missions of an organization. They are not usually written every day or every month like informal reports.

They are formal because they follow established guidelines and formats, and rely on painstaking research. These are the parts of a formal report:

1. Preliminary section

  •  Title page
  • Letter or Memo of Transmittal Table of contents
  • List of illustrations Executive summary

2. Body

  • Introduction
  • Procedures
  • Findings
  • Analysis
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations

3. Supplementary section

  • Glossary Appendix
  • Bibliography or Reference list

Step By Step To Writing  Formal Business Report.

If you are well acquainted with the above differences between informal and formal reports, you can quickly adapt your knowledge of report writing to a wide variety of reports. Here are 5 steps to writing the best formal business report:

1. Statement of the Problem and Purpose.

There cannot be any solutions or recommendations for solving a problem unless the problem is first of all identified. At the first stage of writing a report, the following questions must be asked: what is the problem that must be solved, where is the fault, why is the report necessary, why did they initiate the writing of this report and what is the report out to satisfy?

Thinking-through the problem involves mental efforts and can take days or more before it could be successful.

2. Know the Readers/Audience of the Report.

 Every good formal report is written for a specific audience. As a report writer, you must conduct research on the audience with the aim of understanding the psychographic, demographic and other variables of the audience.

When a writer is able to understand the needs of the audience, he or she is well positioned to package a report that will satisfy this group of people.

More importantly, the writer must understand the sex, age language competence, economic status, specialised training on the subject matter possessed by the audience, worldview, educational level and religious compositions of the audience in order to serve them better.

3. Gather Materials from Sources.

We have said that formal reports rely on facts and facts that can influence decisions. There are established internal and external sources of information available to a researcher or report writer; these have been classified under two major headings: primary and secondary sources.

1. Primary Sources:

This is considered as the most authentic and most reliable source of information when you have the right methodology.

This is the information you gather on your own without any distortion or lies. You are there to observe, feel, see and touch. The primary sources of information for a report writer include:

  • Interview and other forms of oral evidence;
  • Focus group discussion;
  • Observation;
  • Visits to sites;
  • Personal and organisational files;
  • Personal diaries;
  • Minutes of meetings and directives;
  • Experiments;
  • Questionnaires- mailed, telephoned, self or interviewer administered

2. Secondary Sources:

Any information that you did not generate by yourself but from other persons’ thoughts and ideas to assist your research work should be classified under secondary sources.

It is important to note that you must acknowledge the writers or owners of such ideas or works reviewed.

Also, secondary sources of information are not as reliable and credible as your primary sources because you were not there when they compiled their ideas.

Therefore, you must subject the information you get from secondary sources to critical questioning or review to sieve the facts from the chaffs. Some of the secondary sources of information are:

  • Libraries
  • Archives or media resource centre for journals, books newspapers, magazines, pamphlets and government publications
  • CD ROM, Computers, softwares, internet etc
4. Sort, Analyze and Interpret Data.

If care is not taken, voluminous levels of data can overwhelm a report writer when information sources are many. The way out is for a writer to code, sort or group these data into sections or boundaries in order to simplify the information.

Data have to be grouped based on their degree of relatedness. Data have no meaning unless they are carefully analysed, selected and interpreted within the context of the report.

5. Prepare the Drafts and the final Report.

The best writer is prone to making mistakes. You have to draft, re-draft, write, re-write, edit and write the final copy. The more you review, re-draft, write and rewrite, the better your report.

Interactive-cooperative writing is better because two good heads are better than one. Allow other people to criticize and edit for you.

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