What is a Flash Report?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A flash report is a report that provides upper management in a company with a quick snapshot of how the business is performing. The report is prepared by a staffer who gathers information about liquidity, profitability, and company efficiency, and presents it in a short format that is designed to be read quickly to get a quick overview of how the company is doing. The preparation of such a report generally takes half an hour to an hour and can be included in the job responsibilities of various employees, depending on the structure of the company.

A flash report is an executive summary of a business's current financial situation.
A flash report is an executive summary of a business's current financial situation.

The idea behind flash reports is that, while companies prepare extensive periodic reports that provide information about their financial health, the gaps between these reports are too long. Staffers, such as the chief executive officer, often want to see snapshots between these reports so that they can immediately identify exceptions and take corrective action before situations get worse. Such reports may be issued daily or weekly, depending on how the company is organized.

The report provides information about the volume of sales, how many units the company is producing, and what the company's cash flow situation is like. This is done with the understanding that the numbers may not be entirely accurate, but that they can be used to provide general information about the health of the company. The person preparing the report usually works with a specific set of parameters so that the information between reports can be compared.

Often, flash reports are presented in a format that allows for quick comparison between other reports so that people can see changes. The report may be compared to the previously issued report, to a report issued in a different year at the same time, and so forth so that patterns can be noted and followed. If a report deviates from an expected pattern, it can be a sign that there is a problem that must be addressed.

Various people can be responsible for creating the report. Staff in accounting are often in charge because they have access to the financial information needed, although a secretary or executive assistant may also be responsible for it. Reports that take longer than an hour to prepare are generally too detailed and extensive to be of use, as they go beyond a quick presentation of data. If a member of management wants to drill down a specific area of a flash report to get more information, he or she can request more data from the person who prepares it.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@strawCake - I think that counts as a flash report, even though you weren't in an office. I used to work at a bar that would post the total bar sales every day from the day before. It was easy for us to see how the sales were trending, and I know the bar would work harder on promotions when sales were low.

I used to work in an insurance office that did something like this too. They would post everyone's sales on the whiteboard at the end of the day. This way, you could see how the office as a whole was doing, and how you were doing compared to the other sales people.


@KaBoom - I know a flash report is usually used in a business setting, but I think it applies in other industries too. For example, when I used to work in a restaurant as a waitress, I could print out a record of my daily sales.

I feel like this almost functioned as a flash sales report for me. I could see what my numbers were for the day, as well as a more detailed breakdown. The report would tell me how many appetizers I sold, and what my alcohol sales were, and so on. It would basically let me know if I was slacking off in some area, such as selling appetizers or suggesting side salads to people.


I don't work in a business setting, so I'm not familiar with this concept. However, I have to say that I think it's a great idea. How are you supposed to know exactly how your company is doing if you only look at one detailed report every quarter?

Having a daily report seems like a much better way of keeping on top of things. As the article said, if you look at a report every day, you can notice problems exactly as they're happening. If you only look at a report every few months, a problem could easily spiral out of control without anyone noticing.

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