Microsoft Excel is one of the most useful and well-known software created for productivity and systematic work. It is one of the most popular applications being used in order to create tables, charts and reports; due to its easily adjustable properties and various available mathematical formulas and functions. Businesses and companies usually have daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly reports. Excel has tab functions that make it possible for all the data to be contained in only one file, saving space and avoiding confusion. Aside from that, it is lightweight and can carry thousands of numerical data with significantly lesser bytes required than word processing software.
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Pivot Tables for Easier Reporting
Microsoft Excel can easily manipulate and convert numbers into usable data. However, creating tables and numbers are not the only functions of a spreadsheet. Reports are easy to do with the Pivot Table feature in Excel.
Important Reminders for Pivot Table Contents
A pivot table is useful in creating reports, however, it is only as good as the data that it contains. In order to reduce problems and possible errors, here are important considerations for the contents:
- Table format
Each column should have a unique header name in order to avoid confusion and possible errors that may arise from duplicate header names.
- Data set should be complete
To avoid possible problems in the pivot table, there should be no blank rows or columns. In the event that no amount is allotted, you can simply put zero in place of a blank space.
- No subtotals
The information on the table should only be raw data.
- Organize your data
Make sure that all information in the table is correct and in order.
The Importance of Using Pivot Tables in Reports
A pivot table is one of the simplest ways to analyze thousands of data, in contrast to the traditional Excel data tables and grids. Although there are currently more sophisticated and updated tools or software for prediction and statistical analysis, managers rely on the simplicity of the pivot table in viewing and creating their reports. Aside from its simplicity, here are a few other reasons why it’s important to use pivot tables for reports:
- The pivot table has a more compact, readable and summarized format than those of a plain table’s data. Instead of going through thousands of numbers and figures, you only have to select the ones you are interested in viewing.
- The pivot table allows a person to review the trends, relationships and projections between figures.
- The pivot table helps a manager or supervisor navigate easily through data, slicing through information in a fast, easy and efficient manner, rather than through manipulating data by the means of filtering tools.
There are a lot of people who are skeptical about the importance of pivot tables in the creation of their reports, arguing that with the rise of the technological age, there are currently better alternatives. Statistical and analysis software elsewhere could surely function better, however these require special training or understanding to effectively navigate through. Excel is a software that is known to a lot of people, even those that have little or no expertise in word processing or productivity applications. Even though reports may look simple and basic, the function exceeds the aesthetic drawbacks of having limited design alternatives.
The usage of charts and graphs are important in visual assistance. However, tables and grids have always been one of the most basic ways to present vast amounts of data. Some charts and graphs cannot be created without a table, and they can only contain so many information before a chart or graph becomes incomprehensible.
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Every business has a target market, varying in the specific such as demographic and psycho-graphic properties. A marketing report has details on the target market, as well as data on past sales, expenditures, profit during promotions, projected sales and, sometimes, sales targets. Different businesses have different marketing strategies and these reports have varied inclusions that don’t necessarily apply to other companies in different industries.
A marketing report is important because it allows the company to study its sales efforts and find out what their target market responds to. Some retail companies that give out weekend sales twice a year, with additional incentive to those with loyalty cards — reports on loyalty card usage could also tell them the usefulness of such marketing tool and its effect in continuously bringing the same customers to the store. Aside from sales, the information from loyalty cards could tell them where the highest bulk of purchase resides or what area gives them the most patronage.
Tips in Writing Effective Marketing Reports
A lot of companies rely on timely marketing reports to make business decisions, as well as corporate ones. Knowing the effectiveness of a marketing campaign or sales promotion is crucial in curating further marketing efforts. A big company usually spends a percentage of its profit in promotions and advertisements. Here are some tips in writing effective marketing reports:
Know your objectives and your resources available
Your marketing reports should always reflect your business’ goals and available funds. Ideally, a marketing budget should be about 1% of your total expected sales or total sales. That means that you spend a dollar and hope to earn at least a hundred dollars in return. With your sales reports, you can create marketing reports and promotion proposals based on a certain budget.
Know your competition and where you stand
It’s impossible to find out the sales of the competitor brands, as well as their current standing in the market. However, public opinion or competitor promotions are easy to find. Take the time to know your market opponents and study them, especially if they are currently doing better than your company.
Know your market and how you are perceived
Knowing who you are up against is important, and it is equally important to know how our target market or customers see your brand or company. If you are currently the leading competitor in a certain niche, find out ways to branch out into similar business aspects without sacrificing your standing; and if you are currently not in the lead, find out what your customers think of you and why they prefer doing business with other companies instead.
Know your promotions and how they are received
Put the following questions into consideration:
- Do you have any promotional campaigns going on?
- Have these been done before?
- What is the effectiveness of said promotion?
- If these are annually done, what are you doing about this year that is different from a year ago?
- How often should you have marketing campaigns?
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Considerations in Creating a Report
A report is a collective summary of data or information that concerns the party you are presenting it to. Because reports are sensitive in nature and are crucial to the functions of businesses, some of them are kept confidential or only shown to a few key personalities in the company. If you are tasked to create a report, here are a few things you should consider:
The information you are going to present and how you are going to present it
Data is the most crucial part of a report so it should be the first consideration in creating one. Aside from the data to be present, here are key questions and considerations for the content of the report:
- Amount of data or the number of figures you have to present in the report.
- Output or medium you will use in creating the report; whether you are going to make use of a presentation software for slideshow or word processor for a printout.
- Duplication or redundant and unnecessary numbers or information that may be omitted or summarized instead.
- Visual assistants or charts, tables and graphs you will use. If you are going to use charts, what kind of charts? If you are going to use tables, how many rows and columns will be utilized? Will all the visuals be enough to fit in the medium you decide to create the report in?
The frequency and volume of reports
While there are annual and bi-annual reports that you only need to do once or twice a year respectively, there are daily, weekly, bi-monthly, monthly and quarterly reports that are fast-paced and necessary. You also have to consider how often and how many of the same report you need to do in order to determine what software you will be using to track and organize the data. The more reports you have to do, the more convenient it is to use an application that is lightweight and build for large amounts of information.
The audience you will present to and the setting of the presentation
If you are presenting your report to people that are not from your company, you have to leave out the jargons, trade secrets and internal humor. The higher up you give reports to, the easier it should be to understand. When making presentations for your boss’ boss’ boss (someone who is not your direct supervisor or manager), it is important to always create a summary at the end or make a bullet of your topics.
Follow requirements such as format, layout, and color scheme in accordance to those specified by the company or event organizer. Printed reports, usually daily or weekly, have different requirements from slideshows, which are often presented in front of a large corporate meeting. Most slideshow presentations have templates that you have to follow, with strict adherence to company logo usage rules. There are motifs set by the person or group in charge of the reporting event.
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A company relies on reports to give the persons-in-charge an idea of how they are doing as a business and what they are going to do in the long run. Summaries of data and information are being reported to create tangible and measurable basis of important business decisions. Several types of business reports are needed in order to run a successful business, daily sales reports and progress reports are only a few of the many.
Types of Business Reports
To run a successful business, accurate reports and feedback are expected from the management. Here are a few of the types of business reports based on the following categories:
Usage and Purpose
- A marketing or market report is an assessment on sales promotions and their effectiveness.
- A project summary report is a brief outline of the company’s projects.
- Performance evaluation includes employee performance in the company and company performance in the industry.
- A financial report is a summary and combination of sales reports, expenditure reports, and profit and loss evaluations.
Different types of business reports can also be grounds for this category; since periodic reports are those that are required to be accomplished at specific times or cycles. The time period can be stated on the title, before the kind of report being given, such as monthly marketing report.
- Daily reports are those that are required on an everyday in operation.
- Weekly reports are those that are tasked to be delivered once every week, usually on a Saturday or Friday.
- Bi-monthly reports are those that are required to be given twice a month.
- Monthly reports are those that are discussed once a month, usually given within the first week of the succeeding month.
- Quarterly reports are summaries of three monthly presentations condensed into one quarter of a year, usually given in the form of a manager’s meeting.
- Bi-annual reports are those that are being given twice a year, a condensed version of six months worth of reports.
- Annual reports are those presented once a year, usually during the first week of January.
- A compliance report is for external use, often for stakeholders or government departments concerned about environmental and cleanliness compliance.
- A progress report is for internal use, often reflecting on the growth of the company in all aspects or the status of the yearly projects and what has already been accomplished so far.
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