In the course of daily tasks, it’s easy to let your long-term strategy stray off course—and creating a stellar management report each month or quarter is a vital step toward remaining on track. Management reports help correct your course by enabling leadership to facilitate important decision-making conversations regarding where you’re at in your strategy, where you’re doing well, and where you can improve.
We’ve seen countless management reports, and I can say without hesitation that the best of the best have certain things in common. To see whether your own reports could be counted among them, ask yourself (and your team) the following eight questions:
Do Your Company’s Management Reports Pass This 8-Question Quiz?
1. Is it easy to create?
The person responsible for producing your company’s management reports shouldn’t spend more time creating it than your team takes to analyze it and make strategic decisions. If the creation phase is taking up more time than it should, you may want to consider getting better reporting software to help facilitate this process.
2. Does it keep the audience in mind?
Who will be viewing your management reports? Department heads will need to see different information than the Board of Directors. Be sure the report is tailored with the readers in mind. You may need to build different reports for different audiences.
3. Are you reporting with the right regularity?
The sweet spot for reporting regularity—be it annually, quarterly, or monthly—depends on a few factors:
- The quality of the information available. How often do you have good data available? The frequency with which you have quality information may dictate how often you are able to report.
- The audience. Departmental leadership may want to see reports monthly, while your leadership team may only want to meet quarterly.
- The burden on your company’s time. Are you at a place in your strategy execution journey where your company can reasonably handle monthly meetings, or would it be more reasonable to meet quarterly?
4. Does your report cover your entire management reporting framework?
If you’re using a management reporting framework like the Balanced Scorecard, your management report should include all of your objectives, measures, and projects. Some organizations opt not to do this, however, and instead only look at the areas in which they’re underperforming. But choosing not to report on what’s going well can be a detrimental strategy because it doesn’t allow your team to acknowledge its successes, and discuss how they can apply those lessons elsewhere.
5. Is it clear who’s responsible for each element of the report?
The report should identify who is responsible for each goal, measure, and project—particularly so questions about those elements can be directed toward the right person. Your reporting software may have an “owner” field, which helps to clearly articulate who’s responsible for what when you create your report.
It should also identify an individual or department to contact for questions about strategy execution. Depending on the size of your organization, this could be the CEO or the strategy office.
6. Is it easy to read?
“Q3: Improved EBITDA by 10%.” This sentence may make sense to you—but what about the one person in the room who’s never heard of EBITDA? As you put together your management report, be sure you use plain, simple language and avoid jargon, constant acronyms, or industry slang.
7. Is the management report format repeatable and consistent?
When you create your first few management reports, you may make updates to the format each time based on feedback you’ve received. But after that, try to remain consistent. Those reading the report should recognize the flow and rhythm each month or quarter, as this will improve report comprehension and lead to better discussions.
8. Does it look sharp?
People typically share management reports in one of three ways:
- On a website (like a company intranet).
- Through management reporting tools like software.
- Via a printed or emailed PDF.
Whichever option you choose, be certain your management report is clean, free of visual clutter, and on-brand. We recommend using company colors, logos, and any noteworthy company visuals in your report.
Your report is looking good! Now don’t forget to share it.
As long as your report doesn’t contain confidential information, we recommend sharing it outside of management meetings as much as possible! Everyone from board members to front-line staff will appreciate being in the loop—and will better understand progress toward strategy execution.