Planning for Informational & Analytical Reports

Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

Informational and analytical reports are used to solve a business problem. Each report contains different information, but they're used together to evaluate alternative solutions and make important decisions.

Informational Reports and Analytical Reports

Business reports are compiled for several reasons. Depending on for whom the report is written, the information can be as simple as an expense report for a short business trip or as complex as a full-blown annual report.

Let's start by looking at two types of business reports. The informational report is one that contains only facts and data. There are no proposed solutions, and it does not contain personal views.

The analytical report, on the other hand, contains facts and data, but it also provides an analysis of this information and offers recommendations for solving a problem or making a business decision.

Let's take a look at planning to write informational and analytical reports.

Writing an Informational Report

Sven Steelman is thinking about opening a second location of Sven's Muscle City in a new town.

Sven's been in the business of pumping iron for more than half his life. Unfortunately, he doesn't know too much about business expansion.

The good news is that his client Becky Braintrust just graduated from business school and does know a little about how to choose a new location.

Becky remembers that there are a few steps to planning an informational report:

Step 1: Analyze the issue.

Step 2: Gather information.

Step 3: Analyze data.

Step 4: Draw conclusions.

So the first thing Becky will do is to analyze the situation. This means Becky will have to look at the cost involved in opening a new location. She should also investigate whether the location makes sense. And she has to look at the market.

Her next step will be to gather information. Becky might begin by contacting real estate agents to inquire about available storefronts in the area, rental costs and taxes. It would be a good idea to check out the possibilities for foot traffic, proximity to highways and businesses and even where bus and train stops are located.

Once she gathers information, she will analyze the data. This might include comparing rents, utilities and taxes for different sites.

She may evaluate different trends in the area. Perhaps there are several office buildings near a particular site that do not have an in-house gym. Even if they're more expensive, these make more sense compared to a lower-priced site far from an office complex.

Once she analyzes her facts and figures, she will draw factual conclusions and report back to Sven. This report will solely be for the purpose of Sven to decide whether to forge forward with a new location.

Again, there will be no recommendations at this time. Becky's report only contains facts and analysis of the facts, trends and a financial overview.

Once Sven reads the report and makes a decision to move forward, the information in this report will become part of an analytical report.

Writing an Analytical Report

For the analytical report, the process is mostly the same, with one additional step:

Step 1: Analyze the issue.

Step 2: Gather information.

Step 3: Analyze data.

Step 4: Draw conclusions.

Step 5: Make recommendations.

First Becky will take a good look at the situation. This means she'll identify the problem. In this case, the issue is whether Sven should open a second location for Muscle City.

Once she has a grip on the issue, she will gather the information needed to make a decision or solve the problem. Since Becky already gathered enough data for the informational report to use in the analytical report, she will be good to go.

However, sometimes there isn't enough information available or the data collected initially was not compelling enough. If that happens, Becky would be back to the drawing board for step 2.

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