After thorough study, collection of all relevant facts and information and proper scrutiny and analysis of a problem relating to past or present, submission of the conclusions supported by statements and other relevant data etc. is called a report, which offers suggestions for solution of the problem studied. A report is a formal communication written for a specific purpose; it includes a description of procedures followed for collection and analysis of data, their significance, the conclusions drawn from them, and recommendations, if required. The information present in the report is needed to evaluate progress and plan future action. Reports provide feed back to an organization to guide future course of action.
According to C.A.Brown, “A report is a communication form of some one who has some information to some one who needs that information.“
The goal of making reports is to make the information as clear and convenient and accessible as possible.
Generally business reports are categorized into two ways. They are oral and written. An oral report is a piece of fact-to-face communication about something seen or observed. Though it saves the reporter’s time, it is more time-consuming for the receiver as he has to listen to every word of the report. A written report is relatively more accurate and permanent. In certain cases the reader may just skim through it, or read the abstract or the conclusions or recommendations only. It can be referred to again and again and is by its very nature more formal than an oral report.
Different types of reports used in business are:
- Informational reports. These reports present facts about certain given activity in detail without any note or suggestions. Whatever is gathered is reported without giving any thing by way of either explanation or any suggestion. A vice-chancellor asking about the number of candidates appearing at a particular examination naturally seeks only information of the fact (candidates taking up the examination) of course without any comment. Generally such reports are of routine nature. Sometimes they may fall under statutory routine category. A company registrar asking for allotment return within the stipulate period is nothing but informational routine, falling under statutory but routine report.
- Analytical reports. These reports contain facts along with analytical explanations offered by the reporter himself or may be asked for by the one who is seeking the report. Such reports contain the narration of facts, collected data and information, classified and tabulated data and also explanatory note followed by the conclusions arrived at or interpretations. A company chairman may ask for a report on falling trends in sale in a particular area. He will in this case be naturally interested in knowing all the details including that of opinion of any of the investigator.
- Research reports. These reports are based on some research work conducted by either an individual or a group of individuals on a given problem. Indian oil company might have asked its research division to find some substitute for petrol, and if such a study is conducted then a report shall be submitted by the research division detailing its findings and then offering their own suggestions, including the conclusions at which the division has arrived at as to whether such a substitute is these and if it is there can the same be put to use with advantage and effectively. All details shall naturally be asked and has to be given. In fact such a report is the result of a research.
- Statutory reports. These reports are to be presented according to the requirements of a particular law or a rule or a custom now has become a rule. The auditor reports to company registrar has to be submitted as per the requirements of country legal requirement. A return on compensation paid to factory workers during a period by a factory has to be submitted to competent authorities periodically. These reports are generally prepared in the prescribed form as the rules have prescribed.
- Non statutory reports. These reports are not in the nature of legal requirements or rules wants, therefore, the reports are to be prepared and submitted. These reports are required to be prepared and submitted: (i) for the administrative and other conveniences,(ii) for taking decision in a matter (iii) for policy formulations, (iv) for projecting the future or (v) any thing alike so that efficient and smooth functioning maybe assured and proper and necessary decision may be taken with a view to see that every thing goes well and the objectives of the organization are achieved with assured success.
- Routine reports. These reports are required to be prepared and submitted periodically on matters required by the organization so as to help the management of the organization to take decisions in the matters relating to day to day affairs. The main objectives of routine reports are to let the management know as to what is happening in the organization, what is its progress where the deviation is, what measures have been taken in solving the problems and what to do so that the organization may run smoothly and efficiently. Routine reports are generally brief. They only give the facts. No comments or explanations are usually offered in such reports. Generally forms are prescribed for preparation and submission of such reports.
- Special reports. Such a type of report is specially required to be prepared and submitted on matters of special nature. Due to an accident a death of the foreman has occurred in a factory. The factory manager may ask for a detail report from the head foreman. Such a report is classified as special reports. These reports contain not only facts and details but they may contain suggestion, comments and explanations as well.