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Writing Business Reports and Proposals

Chapter 10


why businesses need reports and how these documents can be classified.
between informational and analytical reports. the difference between a problem statement and a statement of purpose, and then identify five other elements included in a formal work plan.



Chapter 10


six tasks necessary to investigating business reports. business interviews, and list four types of interview questions.



what it means to adapt your report to your audience.

Definition of a Report

A written or oral message which

Conveys information about research or status from one area of business to another to assist a managers decision making function. Presents possible solutions to a business problem.

The Purpose/Function of Reports

To make sound decisions and find effective solutions To provide a formal, verifiable link between people, places, and times To serve as permanent records

The Purpose/Function of Reports


solve immediate problems


provide complete, accurate, objective information

Characteristic of A Good Report

Well Research
Complete, accurate, and up-to-date

Well Structured
Specific in scope, terms of reference, relevant, logical with clear conclusion and recommendation. E.g. to identify the drop in sales of product XYZ over the period of 6 months for the year 200_ .

Well Written
Consistently classified, clearly presented, precise and objective, readable, well planned and edited by expert.

Electronic Reports Pros and Cons

Cost savings
Space savings

Hardware and software

System incompatibility Training needs Risks to data security

Faster distribution


and integrity


Types of Business Reports

Informational reports focus on facts and are intended to educate readers Analytical reports provide data analyses, interpretation, and conclusions. In analytical reports, information plays a supporting role.

Informational Reports

Informational Reports
2000 by Prentice Hall

Monitor and Control Reports

Purpose: To track performance and chart the future Key to success: Be accurate, thorough, and honest Types
Plans guidelines for future actions Operating reports performance statistics Personal activity reports accounts of work-related activities

Deciding on Length and Format

When selecting a format, you have four options:

Preprinted form




Analytical Reports
Reports for solving problems

Reports for justifying a project

Proposals for obtaining new business or funding

Structural Approaches for Logical Argument

2 + 2 = 4 Approach

Scientific method

Yardstick approach

Logical Argument: 2 + 2 = 4 Approach

Readers can follow writers thought pattern

Main outline points are independent reasons Introduction discusses purpose, scope, background, and reasons to accept writers case Main section introduces reasons and softens approach Final section summarizes reasons and develops recommendations

Logical Argument: Scientific Method

Readers draw their own conclusions

Main points are alternative hypotheses

Introduction states problem and lists possible causes or solutions

Main sections correspond to various alternatives Final section summarizes findings, validity of solutions, and recommendations

Logical Argument: Yardstick Approach

List of criteria used for evaluating
situation or proposals Introduction discusses problem and presents criteria

Main sections correspond to criteria

or alternatives

Final section identifies best alternative

and provides recommendations

Problem-Solving Reports
Purpose: To analyze alternative

Key to success: Provide facts, give

sound analysis, use good communication skills


Troubleshooting reports Research reports

Justification Reports
Purpose: To convince top
management to approve or endorse a project Key to success: Explain why necessary, whats involved, costs, and benefits Types

Acquisitions of tangible assets Reorganizations (department and company) Procedural and program changes

New Business or Funding Proposals

Purpose: To convince customer to buy
products, services, plans, or projects Key to success: Prepare with care Types


Prepared at request of client Must meet specifications of RFP Initiated by seller Succeed only if client convinced of need for action


Quick Quiz
What is a proposal?


How do proposals differ from justifications? What is a solicited proposal? An unsolicited proposal? A proposal is a special type of analytical report that gets products, plans, or projects accepted by outsiders. Proposals are legally binding and often compete for a clients business. Justifications do neither. Clients request solicited proposals. Unsolicited proposals are initiated by organizations to obtain business or funding.

Planning Business Reports

Begin with a problem statement Limit your scope Outline issues to investigate

Develop a statement of purpose

Prepare work plan

Developing a Work Plan


a work plan by including the following elements:

Statement of problem Statement of purpose Tasks to be done Products that will result Project assignments Working outline Follow-up activities

Lets Discuss


What are six activities that help you organize the research process? What is the difference between primary research and secondary research?

Where do you go to look for industry information? For specific company information? For commercial databases?

Secondary Information Resources in a Library

Business books Almanacs Newspapers Periodicals Directories Electronic databases Government publications

Searching a Database

Select appropriate databases.

Use multiple search engines.

Use key words and phrases.

Use short phrases.

Dont use stopwords.

Do not use words contained in the name of the

database. Use variations of your terms.

Searching a Database


Specify a logical relationship between key words. Evaluate the precision and quality of your results. Use Boolean operators such as AND, OR, and NOT. Use proximity operators Use wildcards

Preparing Effective Surveys

Provide clear instructions
Keep it short and easy to answer Use questions that are easily tabulated Avoid leading questions

Ask only one thing at a time

Pretest the questionnaire

Preparing Interview Questions

Use the appropriate type of question to get the information you need. Think about the sequence of questions. Identify the questions you really need answers to. Ask smart questions. Use a mix of question types. Limit the number of your questions. Edit questions for neutrality and objectivity.

Processing Information You Have Gathered

Read the material and take notes. Know when to quote and when to paraphrase. Document your sources so you can avoid plagiarism.

Lets Discuss

Analyze Your Data

Define the following terms:

Mean Median Mode

Trend Correlation Conclusion Recommendation

Lets Discuss

Test Your Knowledge

What are the six classification of business reports? How do informational reports differ from analytical reports? What is a problem statement, and how does it differ from a statement of purpose? What is included in a work plan for a report, and why is it important? How does primary information differ from secondary information?

Lets Discuss

Test Your Knowledge


What four types of questions can be posed during an interview? What is paraphrasing, and what is its purpose? What are the characteristics of a sound conclusion? How does a conclusion differ from a recommendation? Why do writers use the you attitude in their reports?


Survey analysis and

summary/abstract Introduction
Background of the

Study Objectives of the Study Problem Statement

Literature Review

findings Conclusion Recommendation References Appendix

Sample questionnaire Data summary Letter of Permission

Any other Exhibits