Successful organisations thrive on a strong sense of community where important information is readily available and facts, rather than emotions, drive important business decisions. With a robust knowledge-sharing and reporting infrastructure, you can break down the information silos and build a more engaged and productive team.
Here are the 10 principles you need to follow to make it happen:
1. Good reporting is accessible
While no reporting solution can completely replace traditional business documents, everyday reliance on things like lengthy reports exchanged by email or by hand is hardly practical. This is doubly true in today’s increasingly distributed work environments. Instead, reports must be readily available from home or in the office and viewable on either mobile or desktop.
2. Good reporting is lightweight
Business reports are often associated with reams of paper documents detailing hundreds of transactions over a given time period. A good reporting system should follow the principle of brevity to deliver timely and relevant information that can be exchanged and analysed easily and quickly. That way, decision-makers can act on major issues faster, instead of sending the reports back and forth for deeper analysis.
3. Good reporting is consistent
Reports can exist in many different formats including text-based ones like spreadsheets and visual formats like graphs and pie charts. Then, there are the dozens of possible filetypes and ways to exchange them, such as email, instant messaging, and social media. Good reporting instead takes a consistent approach where changes to formats are applied across the board.
4. Good reporting is accurate
It’s no secret that inaccurate, incomplete, or conflicting data leads to bad decisions. Business reports often incorporate information collected across multiple departments, employees, and endpoints. To reduce the chances of errors and inconsistencies and ensure accuracy, data collection should be automated wherever possible. If, on the other hand, people are manually compiling information into reports, inconsistencies are practically guaranteed.
5. Good reporting is visual
People are visual, and they don’t tend to absorb information well when it exists in the form of lengthy spreadsheets. Reporting tools should include a visual component to offer an engaging user experience. This helps ensure decision-makers can get an instant bird’s eye view of the data instead of having to manually mull over thousands of cells in a spreadsheet.
6. Good reporting is relevant
When it comes to business reporting, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. While consistency is important in the process and between data sets, not every department requires the same information to operate. Reports should be clear and simple with information that is relevant to their target audiences, instead of being excessively comprehensive. In other words, no one should be overburdened with information they don’t explicitly need to do their jobs.
7. Good reporting is timely
Information is often stockpiled for the next weekly or monthly report, but by the time it becomes available to decision-makers, its relevance has already faded. In today’s fast-paced business world, information needs to be available as soon as it has been collected. Micro-reporting will allow decision-makers to act on fleeting opportunities, while scheduled reporting helps drive longer-term operational decision-making.
8. Good reporting is compliant
Good reporting is an essential component of effective information governance which, in turn, helps streamline regulatory compliance and adherence to company policies. Reporting should provide full visibility into mission-critical operations to give business leaders the opportunity to demonstrate their efforts to achieve compliance both with internal and externally mandated regulations.
9. Good reporting is secure
Business reports almost invariably contain confidential information, such as financial and client data. One of the biggest challenges in implementing an effective reporting system is finding the optimal compromise between the availability of information and ensuring its security. Good reporting should incorporate security by design with measures like end-to-end encryption and multiple levels of user verification.
10. Good reporting is goal-driven
The most valuable reports are those that contain actionable information, rather than things like vanity metrics that, at best, only provide a vague overview of how your business is performing. Reports should be configured and delivered to align with core business goals. By analysing reports, decision-makers should be able to instantly garner an understanding of where they are now, as well as where they’re likely to be in the foreseeable future.
The success of any organisation is defined by its ability to acquire, share, and act upon timely and accurate information. Micro-reporting is key to making that possible in today’s fast-moving business environment. Find out how Harkster can help you achieve these principles at scale.