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Getting Started With Strategic & Operational Reports

Operational and strategic reporting by datapine

In the Age of Information, a company can accelerate its success by harnessing its organizational data in a way that is both efficient and value-driven.

To squeeze every last drop of value from your data, both in an operational and strategic sense, it’s important to leverage the right online reporting tool. When it comes to reporting (on both a daily, weekly, and monthly basis), the plans and methods you formulate to optimize your organization will steer your long-term success.

To guide your business to analytical success, we are going to explore operational and strategic reports. We will go through definitions, examples, and best practices on how to be successful.

Let’s begin!

What Is Operational Reporting?

Operational reporting is an effective, results-driven means of tracking, measuring, and analyzing a business’s regular deliverables and metrics, usually on a daily, weekly, and sometimes monthly basis with the help of modern and professional BI reporting tools.

Serving low-level operational data, oftentimes in a shorter time frame, monthly or daily operations reports offer invaluable insights into various logistical aspects relating to an organization’s activities across the board. By gaining access to highly visual interactive insights, you can make better decisions to boost your operations. 

The value of these analytical tools lies in the fact that they provide an interactive approach to data, making it possible to answer critical questions on the spot and share your insights with every relevant stakeholder. Building the grounds for a collaborative data-driven environment. Let’s look at these benefits in more detail below.  

Why Are Operational Reports Important?

As mentioned, an operations report template contains valuable information regarding the progress and development of the different operational tasks in your company. Using this modern approach to data comes with many hidden benefits that can boost your business's success and profitability. These include: 

  • Make swift, informed decisions, often in real-time: Traditional means of report generation are static and require intervention from the IT department to be generated which can often take days or weeks. Modern operating reports are built with real-time data allowing users to extract valuable information on the spot. Having valuable insights at the tip of the hand can help businesses spot any issues before they become bigger as well as improvement opportunities to boost performance. 
  • Save time and money:  By improving efficiency in a number of key operational areas  - departments as well as industries, businesses can save a significant amount of money and time. How you might ask? By making informed data-baked decisions, organizations can avoid shooting in the dark when it comes to building their strategies. Using technologies such as predictive analytics to spot trends and anticipate what might happen in the future sets the ground for smart resource allocation, avoiding wasting money and time on the wrong course of action.  
  • Foster internal collaboration: Modern operational reports samples are online tools that can easily be shared and accessed from any device with an internet connection. This level of accessibility improves communication and collaboration across departments and enables the creation of a data-driven internal infrastructure to ensure stable growth.

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When To Use Operational Reports?

Now that you’re up to speed with the fundamental concepts of operational analysis reports, we’re going to consider when to use them.

In terms of data analysis, you should use them to track, benchmark, and improve your processes, as well as performance, in ongoing operational areas. These areas include functions such as warehousing & fulfillment, manufacturing efficiency, and real-time (or short-term) marketing or sales campaign trends or results.

When you’re working with an operation report, it’s important to consider why you’re using it based on the outcomes and objectives you’re looking to achieve. By doing so, you’ll be able to understand precisely when an operational status report will offer your business the most value.

By working with professional business dashboards containing a cohesive mix of real-time or daily insights as well as weekly and monthly data, you will streamline your performance across the board while improving internal communications significantly. In that sense, you should probably ask yourself the question, “When shouldn't I use operational reporting tools?”

a) Real-time operational reporting

Real-time analytics serve up operational data at the moment. By accessing a mix of visualizations that provide insights as they happen, managers or operatives across departments can respond to trends as they unfold. In doing so, it’s possible to make informed decisions concerning issue management, departmental performance, and short-term operations strategy. Ultimately, real-time analytics makes businesses responsive, adaptable, and communicative, resulting in improved organizational output as well as profitability.

b) Monthly operational reporting

When it comes to reporting in business intelligence, analyzing your monthly activities is essential. It’s possible to create a sense of fluency and cohesion throughout the business by looking at metrics aimed at the midterm. If you're an agency, you can also create a client dashboard and send it as a report each month to update stakeholders on relevant data. An integral part of any well-rounded organizational report strategy, a monthly report presents a valuable mix of trend-based data that facilitates short-term decision-making as well as long-term initiative formulation. Monthly operational reporting data is informative, detailed, and balanced, making these types of analysis tools essential to the ongoing success of any organization.

Operational Report Templates & Examples

We know what operational reporting is used for and when to use it, so now, we’re going to look at 5 definitive types of operational reports examples. By exploring the essential components of these templates, we will put their power into perspective.

1. Operation report example: warehouse KPI dashboard

An operational report focused on the warehouse performance in the logistics industry

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • On-Time Shipping
  • Order Accuracy
  • Warehousing Costs
  • Number of Shipments

Your warehouse is integral to the successful running of any company that deals with physical products, commodities, or stock. If you’re unable to manage your warehouse operations efficiently, you are likely to create organizational snags that will place unnecessary strain on your resources.

A prime example of real-time monitoring, our warehouse KPI dashboard offers an instant overview of all core initiatives, allowing managers to troubleshoot issues and develop responsive strategies at a glance.

Working with logistics KPIs such as shipping times, shipping frequency, warehousing costs, and order accuracy, here, you will find a perfect storm of information—the kind that will turn every one of your warehouse operations seamless on a sustainable basis.

2. Operational report template: production dashboard

Manufacturing operational report displaying main manufacturing KPIs to keep the pulse of your factory

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • Production Volume
  • Production Downtime
  • Production Cost

This dynamic operational performance report offers an accessible insight into your business’s capacity to produce its assets or products. Armed with a perfect storm of visual information, you can drill down into your product volumes, downtimes, and overall costs in one logical location.

One of the key features of this manufacturing dashboard is its ability to break down the development and output of individual pieces of equipment or machinery. By gaining an accurate overview of the best-performing machines by production volume, you can prioritize your maintenance and upgrade efforts accurately, improving productivity and avoiding unnecessary expenditure in the process.

Not only does this operation report sample offer valuable real-time production information, but it also serves as an excellent performance comparison tool, empowering scaling manufacturers to optimize every aspect of their production processes for maximum output and financial efficiency.

3. Operation report sample: marketing KPI dashboard

Operation report sample of a marketing performance dashboard displaying relevant campaign metrics

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
  • Cost-per-Click (CPC)
  • Cost-per-Acquisition (CPA)

The next in our list of dynamic operational reporting examples was created with a marketing dashboard tool and it focuses on all important aspects of your campaigns. 

An essential operational report sample for any modern business looking to boost brand awareness, improve engagement, and accelerate growth, our marketing template offers a detailed breakdown of specific campaign spending (benchmarked against specific campaign budgets) while providing insights on impressions, clicks, and acquisition costs.

By working with this highly visual operations management report, you can make continual strategic tweaks to your campaigns and communication across channels. This will help you reduce ad spending, improve engagement, and, ultimately, earn you a consistently healthy return on marketing investment (ROMI).

Marketing is an all-encompassing area of business, and as such, making the biggest possible impact while preserving your budget will place you on a path to continual growth, success, and profitability. This is a report that will help you do just that.

4. Operational reporting template: financial KPI dashboard

Next, we’re going to talk about the financial operations report. A finance-based tool drills down into every essential pocket of an organization’s budget and expenditure. As such, it’s possible to not only maintain but also improve operations-based financial health over time, as we will see in our example below.

A monthly finance operational reporting showing the working capital, cash conversion cycle, vendor payment error rate, budget variance, etc.

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • Working Capital
  • Quick Ratio / Acid Test
  • Cash Conversion Cycle
  • Vendor Payment Error Rate
  • Budget Variance

When it comes to this kind of reporting, covering all fiscal bases is critical. Working with a balanced mix of finance KPIs, this dynamic template allows you to drill down into vital areas, including budget variance, working capital, vendor error rates, quick ratios, and cash conversion cycles. This comprehensive mix of data will allow you to improve your organization’s finances frequently, propelling your success in the process. By drilling down into bits and pieces of each metric displayed, you can monitor even your daily progress while clearly viewing the bigger financial picture and comparing your results over time.

Hint: Here we can also state that this example can be used in strategic reporting as metrics can be viewed over a longer period of time.

5. Professional operational reporting example: IT Cyber security dashboard 

For our next example, we will cover an IT monthly operations report for cyber security. Given the amount of sensitive data that businesses handle on a daily basis, implementing strict security monitoring and control becomes critical. In fact, Kaseya’s latest annual IT operations report shows that 52% of IT professionals have improving security as their top priority. This is paired with a 49% that says cybersecurity and data protection are one of the top challenges for organizations today. Taking all that into account, using a tool like this one can prove invaluable. Let’s look at it in more detail.   

Operational report sample tracking relevant cyber security metrics

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs: 

  • Cyber Security Rating
  • Amount of Intrusion Times
  • Mean Time to Detect
  • Backup Frequency
  • Phishing Test Success Rate

The value of this modern IT dashboard lies in the fact that it provides a mix of real-time and historical data to extract powerful insights and improve cyber security across the board. With relevant metrics such as the most common attempt types and their frequency, mean time to detect and resolve, and an overall cybersecurity rating, the IT department can easily identify pain points and fix them before an attack can damage the entire organization. Paired with all of these metrics, you also get the pishing test success rate by week. This chart allows you to understand how exposed employees are to phishing attacks. If the rate is too high, then training measures need to be implemented.

6. Operational reporting example: customer support team dashboard

Your customer support team has a direct impact on daily operations. It’s their efforts that help to determine future sales, staffing needs, budgeting, and a myriad of other factors, as support has a direct correlation to customer satisfaction and willingness to do business with you in the future. Understanding your support team’s effectiveness, especially in how long they take to resolve inquiries and whether the customers’ needs were fulfilled, can help you make sense of other data throughout your company.

Customer support operations report template

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • First contact resolution rate (FCR)
  • Utilization rate 
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Average resolution time
  • First response time (FRT)

The above operations report sample allows you to monitor the support team both at an individual level and as a team. Among its most essential criteria is the percentage of cases that can be resolved without a second contact or follow-up. This is referred to as the First Contact Resolution Rate, which tends to have an inverse relationship with the average resolution time. Looking at the above KPIs together gives you a more realistic and complete picture of customer satisfaction.

Now that we’ve looked at prime operation reports examples, it’s time to explore the importance of strategic business reporting. Let’s start by considering the essential concepts and meaning of a strategy report.

What Is Strategic Reporting?

Strategic reports are analytical tools typically used by senior management to track high-level metrics against general company goals. Strategical reporting is a highly effective way of understanding, meeting, and exceeding your organizational goals on a long-term basis.

By working with dynamic KPIs and interactive visual metrics, it’s possible to gain a wealth of insight that will empower you to create an invaluable data report and make vital long-term improvements across the board. In doing so, you will gain an all-important edge over the competition. 

But what makes these reports so valuable for the success of a modern organization? We tell you below! 

Why Are Strategic Reports Important?

A strategy report serves up historical, present, and predictive data, empowering the user to formulate strategic plans that will ultimately boost the success of the organization. Being able to make important decisions based on data on not simple intuition is one of the greatest benefits of strategical reports, some other benefits include: 

  • Boost employee engagement or motivation: The first benefit of modern strategic reports is the fact that they will boost employee engagement and productivity. By being able to assess if their efforts are successful, employees will automatically be motivated to improve and reach their strategic goals. 
  • Improve internal communication, cohesion, and collaboration: To reach the level of strategic efficiency needed to be successful, it is necessary to keep all departments and relevant stakeholders informed and connected with each other. Modern strategic reports are online tools that can be easily shared and used to support relevant discussions. Having access to relevant insights across the organization sets the ground for improved internal communication and collaboration. 
  • Save time and unnecessary investment: C-level decision-makers use them to make informed decisions regarding the future of the organization. Without using the right tools to make these decisions, managers can fall into wrong investments that can harm the financial health of the organization. A modern strategic reporting tool has the necessary features to assist company leaders in making the best decisions through intelligent insight and benchmarking.
  • Optimize all integral business departments: The level of insight provided by these modern tools allows managers to stay informed on all new developments regarding the different departments. Like this, strategies can be optimized across the organization and ensure success and growth on a sustainable basis.

When To Use Strategy Reports?

So, when should you use strategic reporting to your advantage? Rather than interacting with a strategy report on an hourly or daily level, these powerful business intelligence solutions are typically used by senior decision-makers or executives on a weekly, monthly, or sometimes quarterly basis.

In terms of analysis, a strategic-style report presents KPIs and metrics designed for long-term trend identification and performance comparison. You can be broad and look at metrics on a departmental or campaign levelit’s also possible to examine metrics (past, present, and predictive) that drill down into a specific strategic area or function. 

For instance, if you’re a healthcare institution, you might use a strategic patient dashboard to compare patient admission rates across two different years. Doing so will empower you to spot any emerging peaks and troughs in admission rates, get to the root of the cause, and formulate initiatives to ensure you have the resources, as well as the staff, to provide efficient patient care. Additionally, strategy reports are often used as a definitive source of insight at regular departmental or board meetings, as well as initiatives surrounding new business campaigns, processes, and initiatives.

While a strategic report template may not be used as frequently as an operational report template, it’s equally as vital to your business’s success. By working with strategy-based ones on a weekly and monthly basis, at high-level meetings (both external and internal), and when formulating new campaigns or ideas, you will benefit from a wealth of business-boosting insight. 

With a strategy-based report, consistency is key, which means that leveraging them at key times on an ongoing basis is essential. 

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Strategic Report Examples & Templates

There is clearly a wealth of benefits associated with a strategy report. To help you understand their business-boosting power in a practical context, here are three of our most robust strategic report examples for your reference:

1. Strategic analysis report template: sales KPI dashboard

A strategy report example focused on high-level sales metrics such as revenue, profits, costs, incremental sales, accumulated revenue, up/cross-sell rates, etc.

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • Revenue per Sales Rep
  • Customer Churn Rate
  • Upsell & Cross-Sell Rates
  • Profit Margin per Sales Rep
  • Incremental Sales by Campaign

In many ways, sales are the lifeblood of your organization. If you’re unable to encourage a steady flow of sales and manage them strategically, your organization could descend into chaos, stunting your commercial progress in the process.

One of our most practical strategic report examples, our sales dashboard, allows you to protect and improve your bottom line by squeezing every drop of value from your consumer-based conversions and interactions.

Working with KPIs, including churn rate, revenue per sales rep, and incremental sales, this invaluable example offers a panoramic view that will allow you to create powerful profit-boosting initiatives while improving individual as well as collective sales development. A powerful tool for almost every sector or industry imaginable.

2. Strategy report example: management KPI dashboard

Strategy report example of a management executive dashboard showing the important KPIs to C-level executives

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • Customer Acquisition Costs
  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Sales Target

When it comes to smart, swift, and confident senior decision-making, being armed with the tools is essential. This strategic planning report in the form of a professional management dashboard certainly delivers.

With KPIs that provide an accurate high-level snapshot of your business’s performance, you can drill down into your customer acquisition costs, customer lifetime value, and specific sales targets.

Balanced and visually digestible, this most powerful of reporting strategy examples allows senior decision-makers to get a firm grip on the actual revenue generated over specific periods while gaining a better understanding of their cross-selling and upselling strategies. The report also provides invaluable information on how much you’re spending on gaining new customers, as well as whether your efforts are working to keep them. It’s a perfect storm of information that will empower you to make the right tweaks, updates, and changes to your most essential strategies at the right time.

3. Strategic reporting template: CFO dashboard

Strategic report example: a CFO dashboard containing relevant financial metrics

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • Payroll Headcount Ratio
  • Economic Value Added (EVA)
  • Berry Ratio
  • Employee Satisfaction

This financial reporting dashboard is a strategy report example that provides a potent mix of visualizations and metrics designed to aid financial growth, health, and efficiency.

Drilling down into four primary financial areas, our CFO-centric strategic report example offers a wealth of insight surrounding costs, sales targets, gross profit, and customer & employee satisfaction levels. This invaluable melting pot of information provides an effective means of monitoring and measuring quarterly financial performance while breaking down specific costs and understanding the link between employee + customer satisfaction levels and your company’s financial health.

Working with this high-end report frequently will help you tackle any negative fiscal trends head-on while formulating strategies that will maximize financial efficiency in every key area of the business.

4. Strategy report example: CMO dashboard

Moving on with our list of strategic reports examples we have a CMO dashboard with a long-term focus. This powerful analytical overview is the perfect tool for VPs and C-level executives who need to make important strategic decisions regarding marketing efforts and resource allocation. 

A strategic reporting example showcasing high-level marketing KPIs such as cost per lead, MQL, SQL, and cost per customer

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs: 

  • Sales Target & Growth
  • Website-Traffic-to-Lead Ratio
  • Cost per Lead
  • Lead-to-MQL Ratio
  • MQL-to-SQL Ratio

The template provides insights into relevant indicators such as the number of users, leads, MQLs, SQLs, and customers, each of them is being compared to last month’s outcome and a target to be met. This is valuable information as you can easily understand at a glance if a metric is performing as expected by looking at the target information. Paired with this, we get insights into the costs of these metrics. Senior executives need to have data regarding costs as they need to ensure that the company is making the most of the human and monetary resources available.  

5. Strategy report sample: CTO dashboard

As a Chief Technical Officer or CTO, you need to look at high-level metrics that will provide a complete picture of the department’s performance. The template below includes real-time data as well as a longer-term view of key indicators and it focuses on three critical areas any CTO should monitor: finances, learning, and internal perspective. Let’s break it down below. 

A strategic report example showing relevant metrics focused on internal processes, learning, finance and customers, and users.

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs 

  • Number of Critical Bugs
  • Reopened Tickets
  • Accuracy of Estimates
  • New Developed Features
  • Team Attrition Rate

As mentioned throughout this post, any strategic report worth its salt should provide the necessary data to inform critical decisions. Our IT analytics dashboard above does just that by providing a comparison between the current performance and last month’s one. This way managers can easily understand if something is not going as expected by simply looking at the red or green dots on each metric. For example, the finances section shows an increase in support and general IT expenses, this is something that definitely needs to be looked into to avoid bigger issues. 

6. Strategy report sample: CEO dashboard

As one of the most important C-level positions, the CEO is tasked with making strategic decisions that have a ripple effect throughout every corner of the company. Their goal is to ensure the organization is constantly growing and productive, and doing so requires a level of knowledge and insight into every department and function: HR, sales and marketing, customer support, and finances, for example. Having key insights at a glance allows the CEO to make quick judgments with accuracy, spot opportunities for improvements, and ultimately keep the company competitive.

**click to enlarge**

Primary KPIs:

  • Operating expense ratio
  • Net profit margin
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA)
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV)
  • Customer retention rate
  • Headcount development

This is just a sampling of the KPIs we’ve included in the CEO dashboard. This dashboard represents a collection of KPIs from HR, customer support, sales and marketing, and financial data. Getting these detailed overviews allows CEOs to spot trends, potential problems, and new opportunities for growth. It also allows them to focus their efforts on particular areas and drill deeper into the data for further insights.

We’ve looked at everything from an operations management report example to production KPIs and beyond. Now that you understand the key dynamics of these analytical processes in business intelligence as well as their benefits, it’s time to see how to create them in an efficient way.

Your Chance: Want to create powerful strategic & operational reports?
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Strategic & Operational Reporting Best Practices

Strategic and operational reporting best practices

It’s clear that operational reporting software is very powerful — but only if you use it well. To help you build your reporting strategy on solid foundations here is how to conduct analysis the right way  — starting with your core business goals, aims, and objectives.

1. Understand your aims & goals

Before you start your analysis journey, you must have a clear understanding of your core aims or goals. Do you want to cut down warehousing costs while boosting output? Do you want to improve your customer sales lifecycle? You get the picture. Sit down in a collaborative environment and establish your core goals. Doing so will give your reporting efforts direction.

2. Work with the right KPIs

Once you’ve established your key aims and goals, it’s important that you work with the best KPIs for the job. By working with a relevant mix of dynamic KPIs, you’ll ensure that you gain access to relevant data while getting an at-a-glance visualization of important metrics that you can use for benchmarking, decision-making, and troubleshooting. While there are numerous KPI examples you can pick from, you need to focus on the ones that will help you tell a proper story from your data.

3. Use customizable digital tools & dashboards

To ensure that your reporting analysis initiatives work for you, it’s essential that you work with customizable tools. By tailoring the designs to your specific needs, you will improve your analytics activities while emphasizing data storytelling, which will make your metrics all the more powerful. 

The right tools help you deliver data and findings in visually appealing ways. For instance, datapine transforms data into charts, graphs, and dashboards to help stakeholders quickly understand and interpret the data.

To help your customization efforts, here is a dashboard ideas guide for your reading pleasure.

4. Consider interactivity and design 

To make the most out of your reporting efforts it is fundamental to keep interactivity and design in mind. As mentioned above, modern tools provide you with multiple features such as interactive dashboard filters to navigate your dashboards and extract deeper insights from the available data. While this is an invaluable practice, it is not the only point to consider. Some design best practices are also necessary to keep your audience engaged and make the reports as easy to navigate and understand as possible. For example, you can mark a KPI in green or red to indicate if the development is positive or negative. This will help users easily understand at a glance what needs to be improved. That said, be careful not to fill out your reports with a bunch of colors as this is distracting and messy. Keep your design simple and with no more than 3 colors. 

5. Automate your reports

A key best practice when it comes to building interactive operational and strategic reports is to rely on automation. Generating reports on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis is a tedious task that requires a lot of time and effort which could be dedicated to other relevant tasks. Modern online reporting tools give you the possibility to automate your report generation process with real-time data. All you need to do is set up a time and the desired data sources, and the tool will automatically generate a report and send it to specified recipients. Like this, you will have relevant insights whenever you need them without the tedious task of manually generating them. 

6. Benefit from predictive analytics & AI

Predictive analytics and artificial intelligence technologies have been revolutionizing the way businesses deal with data for a long time. On one side, predictive analytics tools analyze historical and current data to generate accurate forecasts regarding future performance. Including these forecasts in your reports can help you make informed decisions as well as be prepared for any problems that may arise. On the other hand, AI technologies such as intelligent data alerts use machine learning algorithms to analyze your data and notify you as soon as an anomaly is detected or a predefined goal is met. This way, you avoid having to manually check your reports every hour. 

7. Involve the right people

When it comes to operational reporting best practices or approaches to strategic-based reporting, this is often overlooked: when you roll out new software, tools, or customized reports, it’s always important to involve the right people while giving everyone in the organization the right level of permissions. By providing training and user workshops, you will ensure greater buy-in from everyone who will benefit from these reports while gathering valuable feedback that will empower you to refine your efforts.

8. Benefit from embedding reports

Embedding analytics is another great way to ensure a successful reporting process across the entire organization. Essentially, this technology allows you to embed an entire reporting software with all its features and functionalities into your own systems. This way you can provide employees and clients with interactive embedded dashboards from one central location. These dashboards are white-labeled, meaning you can customize them to the colors and logo of the company, and can be easily shared via a live URL, email, PDF, or even in a printed format. Providing flexibility and accessibility across the board.

9. Use drill-down capabilities

The data in your reports is most useful when you also have the context to understand the story it is telling you. Professional online BI tools enable you to dive deeper into the surface-level metrics and KPIs thanks to a drill down feature. This feature allows you to drill deeper into lower levels of hierarchical data without having to change to another chart or report. This allows you to explore your data in a more interactive and agile way which can help you find opportunities to boost your outcomes or understand where your successes are coming from.

10. Get mobile access to your reports

Businesses today are increasingly mobile; there isn’t much you can’t do on your phone that you do on your office computer. Having access to operational and strategy reports via mobile is essential for companies to remain competitive and “in the know.” This is especially important if you have many decision-makers that need to access data on the go. 

11. Add a “key findings” section

Beyond visualizations and data, it’s a good idea to include a summary of key findings in each report. This summary provides a glimpse of the most important insights at the beginning of the report to grab the user’s attention. It also helps to distill the data to prevent overwhelm. This way, the user can decide where they want to dig deeper without having to spend too much time analyzing the data first. 

12. Use clear and concise language

Reports are not a time to showcase a person’s grasp of complex jargon or writing styles. Any kind of text present in the report, such as labels and legends should be understood and acted on by any stakeholder. This requires using clear and concise language that limits the use of jargon (unless the audience is well-versed in certain terms). Plain terms allow the reader to easily understand what the data is telling them rather than spending precious time trying to surface the most relevant insights. 

13. Document your process

Strategic and operational reporting isn’t a one-time event. Companies benefit from ongoing reporting best practices, and this works better when you have a documented process for generating those reports. Documentation of the data sources you use, the methodologies, and technologies to create the report ensures transparency and builds trust. It also allows anyone to step in and take over the assignment when personnel changes occur. You can then refer back to these processes when deciding how to update your reporting process in the future.

14. Implement a feedback loop

Making sure your strategic and operational reports are serving the right purposes and audiences over time allows you to reap all the benefits of professional data reporting. Implementing a continuous feedback loop among all users and stakeholders gives you the insight you need to ensure your reports align with your goals and expectations. Ask your users for feedback on usability and usefulness. Use this feedback to make ongoing improvements, train them on your data tools, or decide whether to track different KPIs and metrics.

15. NSI: never stop improving

This is also often overlooked by business decision-makers, but it’s important: to succeed at data analytics, you need to adopt an NSI mindset. What is relevant today might not be tomorrow, so you should study your performance dashboard frequently, making tweaks and improvements where necessary. By doing this and updating your teammates on the changes you make, you will ensure your operational and strategic activities are optimized for success today, tomorrow, and long into the future.

Operational & Strategic Reporting: Common Mistakes To Avoid

While it’s important to follow basic rules and tips, it’s equally important to know what actions can negatively impact your reports and the process you follow to generate them. Let’s look at five mistakes to avoid.

  • Not paying attention to data quality. Inaccurate or incomplete data can lead to flawed reports, resulting in poor decision-making. Make sure you’re conducting regular data quality control checks, cleansing old records, and capturing the right data in your reports. Establish data quality control practices to quickly validate data. This may include checking for errors, avoiding duplicates, and ensuring data aligns with predefined standards.
  • Presenting data without context or explanation. Displaying data without context can be misleading and confusing to users. Numbers and metrics on their own may not convey the significance or implications. Users need to understand both the “why” and the “what” behind the data. This means you’ll need to provide some background information in your reports, such as historical comparisons, benchmarks, and explanations of any anomalies or trends. Contextualization adds depth to the data, enabling users to make more informed decisions. Without it, users may struggle to interpret the data or apply it to their decision-making.
  • Not integrating visuals for easier and faster referencing. Raw data presented without visual aids can make it difficult to interpret, understand, and use. Adding visuals such as different types of charts and graphs makes the data more accessible and actionable. Visuals allow users to quickly grasp trends, spot patterns, and understand relationships between data points. Neglecting to include visual elements can lead to missed opportunities to leverage data.
  • Not tailoring your reports to the right audience. Reports should be customized to address the unique needs of various stakeholders within your organization. Different users require different types of information to make informed decisions. Ignoring user preferences and priorities can lead to disengagement. To solve the issue, this might require creating different versions of reports that display different types of information or display the same information in different formats.  
  • Not being selective about your data. Too much data can have the opposite effect of what you intend. Excessive information makes it harder to pick out the most salient insights and reduces data recall. It’s important to strike a balance between meaningful information and data overload. Reports should be thoughtfully curated, focusing on only the KPIs the intended audience can use and act upon.
  • Not upgrading your data systems. As your business grows over time, the demand for powerful reporting tools is likely to increase too. This may be due to adding new departments, services, products, or functions. Monitor the performance of your reporting systems to ensure they’re responsive and can handle the increasing data loads as your business evolves.
  • Failing to update and iterate. Reports become stagnant over time. The data within them becomes irrelevant and outdated, which reduces the effectiveness of your efforts. Make sure you’re regularly reviewing and updating your operational and strategic reports. Ensure they’re always aligned with your business objectives. Soliciting feedback from report users will help you decide if you need to collect additional data points, leave out certain KPIs, and continuously improve your reporting. 

Your Chance: Want to create powerful strategic & operational reports?
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Key Takeaways On Operational & Strategic Reports 

We’ve looked at every key area of operational and strategic-based reporting, outlining the key concepts and benefits while exploring a wealth of dynamic report examples, and one thing is clear: by embracing these innovative tools, technologies, and methodologies, you will gain an edge over the competition.

Operational and strategic reporting tools work in perfect harmony to offer deep, practical insights into every business department, process, and function imaginable. Working with the right reporting software, report types, and methods will make your business more robust, adaptable, efficient, innovative, and profitable – the key attributes to ongoing commercial success.

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