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Business Reports 1

report, purpose, information, conditions, recommendations and data

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BUSINESS REPORTS 1. Purpose of the business report.—Business re ports are usually prepared for a very definite and practical purpose at the request of some individual or some organization that possesses authority to act on the information given or the recommendations made in the report. It is advisable that the writer of the report not only keep constantly in mind his own purpose in making the report, but also that he be sure that he knows definitely what ultimate use „the concern will make of it. He must be careful, how ever, not to allow his knowledge of the ultimate use of his data to influence him to hand in any information that is not entirely accurate. It is by this knowl edge that the writer of the report must guide him self in collecting data, in analyzing and arranging facts, and in deciding what form the report shall take and what the expression shall be.

Why is this report wanted? is, then, an important question. If a complete and accurate answer can be secured before the report is begun, it will be of great value in the work of preparation. Now and then, however, in order to make it more certain that a dis interested and unbiased report will be .submitted, a concern will prefer not to answer this question until after the report has been turned in. As a rule, it is good policy for a firm to give all the information it can, from the beginning, since the more the re port-maker knows concerning the concern's needs, conditions and policies, the better equipped is he to work intelligently for the best interests of the busi ness, and the more likely is it that his report will be satisfactory from the standpoint both of substance and of style.

There is no fixed form for a good business report. Reports vary in form and method, contents, arrange ment, and so on, primarily according to differences in purpose. Yet there are many features which char acterize all reports. It is the aim of this chapter to point out some of the more general requirements that apply in all kinds of report-making—technical or non-technical, personal or impersonal, scientific, economic, descriptive, narrative or expositive.

2. Gathering matter what kind of re port is to be made, its purpose will determine the character of the information that must be gathered. If that purpose is to recommend improvement in the operation of a department, the report might include information concerning the following: present con ditions in the department, both favorable and unfavor able, and the causes of these conditions; past condi tions, the causes that occasioned them; a forecast of what the results will be if present conditions continue; and recommendations of changes that would bring about the desired improvement. The amount and character of information that should be included de pends, of course, upon the ultimate purpose that the report is to serve. In many cases, the report need be only a series of recommendations concerning the im provement of a condition the existence of which is well known to the receiver of the report; in other cases, it need merely make an impartial and imper sonal statement of facts, without any conclusion or recommendations—when that best serves the purpose. But in most cases a report consists of definite recom mendations backed up with sufficient data to give the reader not only a clear idea of the reasons for the recommendations, but also a basis for judging their reliability and their practicability.

Gathering and selecting data that will serve as the basis for a good report is often the most difficult part a report making. This problem involves all the principles applied in statistical research, which is highly specialized work. The report-maker aims to secure detailed and accurate information concerning the conditions and circumstances in any case, and to summarize the facts, principally for purposes of com parison—in order that they may serve as dependable premises on which accurate conclusions may be based.

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