Big Data is transforming the way business managers create reports, visualise findings, and create meaningful insights. Highly data-driven organisations are 3X more likely to report significant improvement in decision-making.
Business leaders are no longer underestimating the power of leveraging data through business analytics. Gartner’s Top 10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2021 report declared that one of the biggest trends is the use of data and analytics as a core business function. Gartner’s study also finds that if chief data officers (CDOs) are involved in setting goals and strategies, they can increase the production of business value by 2.6X.
Good data does not necessarily guarantee good business decisions. Management reporting gives business professionals an opportunity to collect, analyse, report, and visualise relevant data to make powerful judgments. Learn everything you need to know about how to create a management report that drives successful outcomes.
What is Management Reporting?
Management reporting is a type of reporting used in business intelligence to help managers oversee operations and business performance. Managers typically use management reporting technology to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) and objectives and key results (OKRs) to benchmark performance.
Management Report vs. Financial Report
People may question “what is the difference between a management report and a financial report?” The primary objective of a business management report is to allow professionals to make data-driven decisions about general operations, including financial decisions. A management report includes everything from company operations reports to sales and marketing reports.
In contrast, a financial report is a record that conveys the financial performance of a business. Financial reporting includes balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements. Although financial reporting is useful for informed financial decisions, management reporting offers a more holistic view of overall business activity.
Management reports identify, measure, analyse, interpret, and communicate financial information to managers for the pursuit of an organisation's OKRs.
The objective of a management report is to inform internal decisions.
Management reports are used by managers and team members to improve business processes and outcomes.
Financial reports record, summarise, and report the flow of transactions and economic activity resulting from business operations over a period of time to the public or regulators.
The objective of a financial report is to inform customers, partners, and stakeholders.
Financial reports are used by parties outside of the organisation to make business partnership and investing decisions.
7 Tips to Make Management Reports Outstanding
Before you can reap the benefits of management reporting, you must engage in best practices to ensure your business report is accurate, data-informed, and easy to understand. Business professionals can use the following tips to make management reports outstanding.
Define Your Report Structure and Content
A business report must be designed in a way that communicates facts clearly and allows managers to easily access the information they need. The structure of a typical business report includes a title page, executive summary, table of contents, an introduction, the body portion, the conclusion, recommendations, references, and appendices.
Engage in the following step-by-step process to build the structure of your business management report:
Write down the basic information that needs to be included.
Determine if your organisation has a branded internal format.
Add a title.
Create a table of contents.
Add a short summary.
Write an introduction.
Outline your methodology.
Present your findings.
End with a conclusion with suggested next steps.
Add a bibliography.
Establish Goals and Objectives
The purpose of business reporting is to inform important business decisions in an effort to meet your business goals. To ensure the goals are met, start by outlining your business’ OKRs by asking yourself the following questions:
Why do you need a business report in the first place?
Do you know what the key drivers of your business are?
How can you tell if your pricing is correct?
How do you define success?
The best business goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Perhaps you’re using business reporting to prioritise a particular business goal, such as “hit company global sales target of $100 Million in sales” or “achieve 100% year-to-year sales growth”. The more specific and measurable you make your goals, the more clearly you will be able to formulate the remainder of your business report.
Collaborate with Internal Teams
Accurate business reporting does not work if your teams are siloed. Communication across internal teams will help you gather the necessary data you need to produce a solid business report. Collaborative analytics, “uses a combination of business intelligence software and collaboration tools to allow a broad spectrum of people in an organisation- (and beyond) to participate in data analytics.”
Collaborative analytics allows the entire team to easily disseminate information, often with the help of online platforms and technology. The following tools can help you and your team gather the information you need for your business report:
Visual and collaborative data visualisation platform
Focus on the Right Data
A key performance indicator, or KPI, is a type of performance measurement that evaluates the success of your business efforts in reaching your outlined goals and objectives. KPIs are used in every aspect of business, from marketing and sales to finances and operations. Choose KPIs that accurately measure the goals you have set out to hit.
For example, if a high-priority goal for your company is to streamline internal operations you would potentially want to measure order fulfilment time, time to market, employee satisfaction rating, and employee churn rate. Review a full list of KPIs and focus on the metrics that will offer the most meaningful insights to your business.
Once you have produced a solid management report, you can save time and money by creating a branded in-house format and repurposing the document for future business reporting. The branding, formatting, and language should also be consistent within each management report. Consistency leads to clarity because the team members reviewing the report will gain a clear understanding of what to expect and where to find the insights they need.
Present the Findings Clearly
Data visualisation is the means by which data is organised and visually displayed and includes elements like charts, graphs, and maps. Data visualisation tools help key decision-makers better see and understand trends, deviations, and patterns in data.
In the age of Big Data, data visualisation is able to transform disorganised information into a meaningful story. Like any effective storyteller, your business report should establish content, context, and meaning when communicating your findings in a report.
There are many helpful data visualisation platforms on the market today that streamline this process. Tools like Tableau Software, Google Charts, and Infographic Software can generate a rich selection of interactive charts and images based on user-supplied data. Choose a platform that meets your company needs (and budget) and create polished renderings of your data.
Periodically Revisit and Iterate
A management report is never finished. Accurate management reporting relies on constant iteration. The data-driven business world moves fast and your team must be agile to keep up. Leaders should prioritise updating reports to guarantee the insights continue to be relevant after collecting new internal and external data.
This can be done efficiently using a visual analytics tool. Some visual analytics platforms provide interactive dashboards that automatically update and deliver recent reports. Alternatively, you and your team can manually review goals and KPIs and input fresh data to ensure the initial management report is still relevant.
What You’ll Learn in a Master’s in Business Analytics
Aston University provides a hands-on, world-renowned MSc Business Analytics Suite, offering three specialised programmes designed to help leaders make strategic decisions driven by data. Choose a programme that best aligns with your career goals and desired skill set: Business Analytics, Management & Analytics, or Digital Marketing & Analytics.
Skills and Knowledge
Students enrolled in a business analytics master’s programme will learn a series of hands-on analytical skills as well as secondary leadership skills that encourage professional growth. The following four areas reflect the core focus of the MSc Business Analytics Suite:
Evaluate and Assess: Use descriptive analytics to extract meaningful information from large amounts of data and visualise findings for ease of understanding.
Predict and Project: Apply predictive analytics methods to anticipate patterns, estimate potential outcomes and model scenarios for a range of business needs.
Prescribe Solutions: Guide business decision-making through prescriptive analytics that quantifies future outcomes with actionable data.
Develop as a Professional: Build necessary skills in communication, presentation, consultation and business dynamics while also establishing leadership behaviours.
Modules and Curriculum
Aston University designed the business analytics masters curriculum to offer skills that are applicable in the modern workforce. A sample of MSc Business Analytics Suite modules include:
Big Data for Decision Making
Effective Management Consultancy
Software for Analytics
Make Better Business Decisions with Aston’s Online MSc Business Analytics Suite
Are you a driven business professional who is interested in learning more about business analytics to support your career? Aston University offers a flexible MSc Business Analytics Suite for motivated professionals and was recently recognised as the University of the Year and Outstanding Entrepreneurial University based on module content and student experience.
The MSc Business Analytics Suite at Aston grants students the following:
100% online programme
Flexible study options for working professionals
Affordable quality degree from a triple-accredited school (AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS)
A global network of more than 90,000 alumni
86% Overall Student Satisfaction in the 2020 National Student Survey
Ranked 2nd in the UK in the Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking 2021
Are you ready to use business analytics to drive success for your organisation? Learn more about Aston University’s MSc Business Analytics Suite.