Strategic reporting allows companies to answer questions addressing progress, outcomes, and performance with respect to specific goals. These reports can use a variety of tools to collect information about a company or organization to answer these questions thoroughly and accurately. They can be used for internal activities as well as public accountability in the case of government agencies and publicly traded companies. Software utilities are available to facilitate strategic report preparation, as are consulting firms specializing in this subject.
Like other business reporting, strategic reporting can include a discussion of common metrics like expenses, revenues, and growth. The report may discuss new acquisitions, the performance of individual business units, and similar topics. It can also provide some historical context and future projections, looking at past performance and predicting future outcomes. Additionally, this process can include surveys and reviews conducted by members of the reporting team or a neutral third party.
This approach to business or agency reporting requires the formulation of questions that can be answered through the reporting. Questions should be clear, detailed, and explicit. They may reference goals previously determined by the organization. For example, instead of asking “how well is the company doing?,” people might consider questions like “how much market share do we have?” or “what is our most productive department.” For government agencies, the process may include a discussion of whether the agency is meeting a mandate like improving food safety or protecting consumers.
Business plans may call for periodic strategic reporting. They can also provide information companies may use in the preparation of their reports, like mission statements and concrete questions to use as prompts in review documents. Past reports are available for comparison purposes. These can help the preparers stay on task with their reporting projects, or take note of changing business goals that necessitate changes to reporting policies.
Software programs for strategic reporting can pull together objective data like sales numbers, expenses, and other financial declarations. They can also collate survey results, interview transcripts, and other materials for the benefit of the user. Charts, graphs, and other visual representations of progress can be generated automatically, allowing a company to illustrate percentage growth and other topics. Such programs can also create templates for use in future strategic reporting and may offer prompts and worksheets to help users generate thorough and effective reports by guiding them through the process from start to finish.