How to Write a Report


Analysts must report their work, usually in writing. A skilled writer does their best to impress their readers favorably with clear, understandable, but concise information that can be “digested” quickly and easily. Writing in this fashion also helps in preparing oral presentations. Follow the three rules given below for all reports for this course.

1. Imagine your audience, and write “to” them, not “at” them. Ensure you’re using plain language, and explain acronyms or terms that may not be well-known. In this course, address your reports to your instructor and assume they may not have a background or understanding of the methodology and skill sets you have. Your reader relies on you for clear explanations and concise details to understand what you’re doing, what your findings are, and what you recommend as actions to correct the problems.

2. Be thorough and brief. Include all the required sections (discussed below) and incorporate creative and critical thinking when assessing the possible causes and potential solutions. Write a first draft, then edit carefully for redundancy, wordiness, clutter, etc.

3. Organize for readability into an understandable and logical format. A format will be provided at the end of this guide.

Sections of the Report

1. Background. Describe in a solid paragraph the situation that is currently being assessed in the problem. Be specific, and use bullet statements to highlight problem areas from the text.

2. Analysis and findings. This section gives the reader information necessary to understand or appreciate the current state of the process, and set the foundation for the next sections of the report. It puts things in focus by providing background and perspective. Assess these areas in short, succinct, but detailed sentences, and express possible reasons for these conditions to exist.

This section answers the following questions:

· What are all of the potential problems mentioned in the text?

· What are the possible causes for the current situation? Again, be creative! Think outside the box and as an objective analyst. Place yourself into the role as detective and consultant.

· What tools/techniques/methods would you use to identify, and possibly quantify/qualify, those issues?

Tips: Avoid using first person language “I,” “me,” etc., – you are the one presenting the information, so it is not necessary to include such language in the report. Present your objective analysis to the issues involved, and present them directly to the customer – me! This section should cover all of the problems, potential causes and ways to identify/measure/quantify/qualify the issues. What concepts from the chapter the study is based on would you use to accomplish these actions?

3. Recommendations. This section answers these questions:

· What tools/techniques/methods would you use to propose possible solutions to reduce or eliminate the problems?

· What tools/techniques/methods would you use to turn solutions into long-term, sustainable processes?

· These should be based on the tools/methods that are presented in the chapters from where the case study is drawn from. In other words, if the case study is from Chapter 6, you MUST use the tools/methods from the chapter, AND incorporate some of the other tools from previous chapters (if applicable) to your analysis and recommendations.

· How would you design and monitor the proposed solutions long-term?

Present your solutions as recommendations! Remember – you’re just the consultant and NOT the owner! Your job is to point out what you’ve observed, what may be possible causes for the conditions, and how to possibly fix them using the methods from the chapter and from previous chapters. Think “how would I fix this?” but present it in your report as a recommendation.

Also, provide what you think the outcome would be (how things would change) if the recommendations were initiated. These can be simple bullets and sentences – nothing fancy. Finally, what would you recommend to keep the solutions viable for the next year or two? What would you use to monitor the processes to ensure the solutions were being followed? Would you use data? Checklists? That sort of thing. Again, be creative!

4. References. Cite the text and any outside resources you may have used to compile your report.

Using only the text is boring, but I won’t deduct points for it since that’s your major source of info. However, I would really like to see you branch out some and get at least one other external source that helped you with the solutions and recommendations.

5. General guidance. Papers should have:

· A cover page in APA format

· NO RUNNING HEADERS

· Page numbers are optional

· Title of the paper will be the name of the Case Study

· 1” margins

· 12-point font

· A minimum of 1-1/2 to 2 pages of WRITTEN NARRATIVE for EACH PROBLEM

· Does not include cover page or references

Follow the instructions and you should easily meet these requirements. Report format:

Format

Background

Provide brief synopsis of the problem as presented in the text. Background should be: single-spaced, a solid paragraph (5-6 sentences), bullet statements may be used to highlight problem areas.

Analysis and findings

Single-spaced, with proper paragraphs! This is a narrative report, similar to a term paper. Make sure you break up your analysis into separate sections covering the problem areas identified in the problem/background. Each section should be a solid paragraph or two that answers the questions in the text.

DO NOT make your analysis a Q&A format. DO NOT restate the text questions. Use the questions as lead-in sentences to the analysis/findings. Ensure you cover all areas of the problem, analysis and the findings from the Excel file (if any) in your analysis.

Be creative, but critical. Logical assumptions may be made, but should stay within the scope of the question. Envision yourself as an inspector and visualize what is going on, and using creative thinking, what would some of the logical assumptions based on the scenario be? Use this as your basis for evaluation of the problems and recommendations for improvement.

Recommendations

Same as Analysis section, however, this should be a little more detailed as to how you would monitor and maintain the solution recommendations. Two or three paragraphs for each problem area would be acceptable. Recommendations should be relevant to the problem area. What tools/methods would you use to establish a long-term solution to the problem? What would you recommend as monitor tools or data collection/monitoring of the process? These can be simple, but related to the concepts in the chapter from which the problem/study is found.

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