8 Tips To Take The Pain Out Of Reporting

Posted by Jacob Goodwin in Insights - Last updated

Reporting is here to stay.

Love it or loathe it, reporting forms a critical part of any successful operation. Helping business in evaluating progress and identifying focus areas for the weeks and months to come.

On a personal level, effective reporting, and interpretation of the insights, can be the difference between hitting or missing your quota. Likewise, on an organisational scale, outdated reporting techniques can render business critical decisions useless when made from inaccurate data.

No matter how you look at it, reporting is unavoidable. Question is, how to make it less of a drag?

Thankfully, there is an alternative.

Dare we say an exciting and engaging approach to reporting. One that will have you constantly checking your stats rather than putting it off until the very last minute.

Here are 8 tips to make reporting a breeze and more insightful for everyone involved.

1 – Focus On Important Data

Nobody needs to know EVERY single figure.

Reporting isn’t there to flesh out the time sheet or prove you know it all; the included data should be relevant, succinct and immediately enlightening.

“Just because you’ve got information on a particular metric doesn’t mean it belongs in every single report you provide.”

Andrea Fryrear – CCO at Fox Content

2 – Clarity At Scale

One common pain of reporting is the time it so often takes to pull together the data you need from across a whole organisation.

The goal of a report should be to provide an informative insight at a glance. Being able to quickly drill down into an individual or department removes laboursome digging and provides an instant snapshot into the state of play.

Equally, when presenting complex information, supplement any statistics with explanatory text.

Isolated data can be confusing. By showcasing why particular figures have been included and the conclusion that can be drawn, the water is no longer muddied. Applying this principle across a whole organisation brings simple clarity at scale.

3 – Know Your Audience

Are you creating a report for the executive board or a single sales person?

Whatever information you are presenting, it should always be tailored accordingly toward the audience and their personal interests.

This can also be reflected in the level of detail included. More senior team members might simply require a summary whereas an individual would benefit from a more granular insight to be able to tweak their actions for maximum effect.

4 – Agree On Critical Metrics

Before you even consider collating a report, you need to demarcate the contents.

Effective reporting stems from an agreement about what the crucial KPIs are, why they matter and what level of achievement can be considered success.

“Come to an agreement on what wins look like and the metrics you’ll use to gauge success.

One of the main reasons why we report in the first place is so we can use data driven insights to inform future work.”

ONCLUSIVE

By accurately tracking critical KPIs, you can deliver the level of service or performance desired. Don’t drown in useless data, link the stats that matter to the big picture.

5 – Visualise

In the same vein that creating a text heavy report can be dull for the author, it can be even more so for the reader.

“After three days, a user retained only 10-20% of written or spoken information but almost 65% of visual information.”

CHANGING MINDS

Engage your recipient through the use of charts and graphs to illustrate your findings. Better still, have the data appear organically in visuals, with easy to interpret colour codes providing a crucial insight at a glance.

Not only will it encourage the reader to connect with the content, it will increase the likelihood of any recommendations being implemented.

6 – Increase Regularity

How often do you report? Weekly, monthly, quarterly?

If the process is a pain, you’re likely to leave as long a gap as feasibly possible before having to start over again.

The risk is, with such a protracted data period, a quarterly report can often be effectively “out of date” by the time it lands on your desk.

In order to react effectively and efficiently, to changes either internally or externally, you need to be aware of them as soon as they occur. By using live data dashboards, you can access all the information you need at a click of a button.

No more guesswork. No more outdated decisions.

7 – Embrace Feedback

Before presenting a report, seek out feedback to make sure it is clear and easy to follow. A crucial point to avoid is the inclusion of vanity metrics that in any way skew the state of play.

“Ideally, your critic should be someone who isn’t familiar with the data or the project it came from.

This outsider’s perspective will reveal whether or not you’ve achieved the simplicity and clarity that are the hallmarks of great reports.”

Andrea Fryrear – CCO at Fox Content

Continuous improvement is a principle that should be applied to every aspect of your organisation and job function. Reporting is no different.

Improving either through data collection or data actioning processes can have a dramatic impact on your overall results.

8 – Use The Right Technology

Ultimately, all of the above can be achieved through a combination of defining targets and the relevant metrics prior to the task being reported and using the best technology available to track your progress.

With Anthill, you can visualise real-time data in your own perfect way.

Selecting the KPIs that matter to transform reporting from a long winded, labour intensive process into a simple, insightful activity providing clarity at the click of your fingers.

If data is hidden away, it can’t be actioned. Using live data dashboards ensures you reports are accurate and accessible, encouraging proactive action rather than reactive scrambling.

Reporting for many is a task to avoid. All it takes to remove the pain is a technology that does the difficult part for you.

The only thing left for you to do is act on the insights you discover.


Intrigued to learn more? Check out our Insights Hub to keep your business at the cutting edge.


Jacob Goodwin -

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