How to Design a Report with Impact

To be a successful Process Improvement consultant, you have to wear many hats – and perhaps the one that most analytical minds struggle with is the ‘design and present’, or reporting aspect of the role. It’s such a key part of the buy-in process that I would encourage you not to shy away from it. I’m not a designer, so I won’t waste your time suggesting fonts and colours – instead I’d like to cover a few key tips to producing a report that has the impact you need it to.

  1. Answer the key questions first

A summary answering the key questions gives your report a roadmap, showing the readers where you are headed. Remember, that any Performance Improvement report should say:

–          What is the performance really doing

–          Why is it doing that

–          How the organisation should respond

You don’t need to squeeze everything into a paragraph, but by pulling out a few key points you’ll encourage your readers to read on, and give them some at-a-glance answers to the important questions.

  1. Group information

Visually group related information together to make it easy to find. For instance, collate related measures underneath their shared Strategic Goal headings.

As well as making it easier to find things at a glance, by doing this you automatically create a coherent structure for your report.

  1. Be Consistent

By this I mean be consistent with your format between reports, so they become familiar to your readers, but also be consistent with formatting within the report. For instance, use the same graph type and formatting to display performance measures and trends.

  1. Highlight and Contrast

Make important points stand out, such as signals of change or achievement of targets. Use different formatting to highlight this so it can be seen at a glance, but again, be consistent throughout so readers understand why you’ve made it look different.

  1. Trim the fat

Too much narrative or too much data creates a report that is too long to be comfortably consumed by your readers. This can be as detrimental as too little information, as both options lead to uninformed readers. Before you send a report out, carry out a sense check – what is the purpose of the report and does it fulfil it?

If you need help creating reports with impact, get in touch.

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