8 Key Attributes of Best Practice Reporting

Agency life is unavoidably fast paced. In that fast lane, it can be tempting to postpone or skip reporting because it falls into the “too hard” or “too time consuming” basket. Yet the reality is that best practice reporting is the cornerstone of agency success. Countless useful insights lurk in agency data that, when identified, can lead to actions and decisions which improve overall client satisfaction, profitability and business growth.

Why is reporting important?

Reporting performs three important functions for agencies. First, reporting helps agency owners improve how they manage their operations. Operational insights are essential to understanding revenue flows, managing expenses, tracking payments, calculating margin and – ultimately – realising profit. Speed in accessing accurate, data-based insights contributes to stronger, better informed decision-making.

Second, reporting helps an agency demonstrate their value to clients. A client who sees their own business progress, and understands how your agency helped them achieve those results, is a client more likely to engage you again to help them achieve their future goals.

Finally, data reporting assists you in making professional judgments. It provides you with appropriate evidence to support your decision when one of your subordinates, managers, or employees questions it. You can only gather, analyze, and make decisions based on trusted information generated by using the appropriate data reporting tools. 

Typer of data report

Expense reports

One of the most crucial reports you will utilize in your agency is expense reports. They are essential since they enable you to monitor your overhead costs.

You need to spend money as a business in order to generate revenue, but you must be aware of your spending habits. To assess whether you are properly allocating your capital, use an expense report to determine how your budget is being spent.

Audit reports

Audit reports will examine specific areas of your business to make sure they are operating as they should. Audit reports come in a variety of formats. You could audit your staff members, for instance, to find out what kinds of data they are accessing on the business’s servers. 

Alternatively, you might have audit reports pertaining to your payroll tax laws to ensure you are paying the appropriate amount of tax on time. Using audit reports, you can address potential issues before they negatively affect your agency.

Revenue reports

Revenue reports are concerned with how much money your agency is producing. Revenue reports help you keep track of your earnings from multiple sources and analyze the overall pattern. 

There are numerous ways for your agency to make money. Apart from your main business activities by selling your products and services (i.e. marketing, branding, web design, etc.), you can generate revenue from financial activities like property leasing, savings account payments, and bond and stock investments. The revenue reports include all these information, showing how much money you are making.

Marketing reports

Since marketing is an important part of creating a successful business, you need dedicated data reports for your marketing efforts You can learn which of your marketing techniques are effective, which ones require improvement, and which ones should be removed through a marketing data report. For instance, you might have a digital marketing report that evaluates the success of your PPC and SEO campaigns to guide your next course of action.

Growth reports

You can leverage growth reports to create forecasts for the company’s growth over the coming months or years. These data reports could include details on not only your business but also your rivals and the market landscape. You may determine how quickly your agencyis expected to grow over the next few years and take appropriate action as a result.

Above are the popular types of data reports your agency might utilize. Make the most out of these data by well structuring and presenting so that you, your management, and your staff can easily understand them. Here are a number of helpful hints and techniques for you.

Experience Best Practice Reporting

Effectively use data to optimize your agency’s performance and improve decision-making

8 key attributes of best practice reporting

Our experience with agencies over the last twenty years has helped us identify five key attributes of best practice reporting. These best practices deliver the insights you need to run your business profitably and to communicate more effectively with your teams, business partners and clients.

1. Report’s structure

The structure plays a crucial role in creating a meaningful report. Your report won’t be as impactful if your ideas aren’t logically organized.

Think about structuring your report using the top-down or bottom-up methods. For instance, if you like to make your primary argument all at once, you can follow the top-down method to break down the report in depth on a different page. On the other hand, the bottom-up method is your choice if you start with some data visualizations and add the main points at the end.

2. Simplify information

We think that the more information we give, the more accurate our report will be. However, it’s unnecessary and overwhelming to show large text blocks on the report. 

One paragraph should only include one primary idea. If there are multiple ideas, begin a new paragraph. The distance between texts and graphics must also be taken into account. Use visual aids like numbered lists or bullets to facilitate readability and comprehension.

3. Real-time data 

Business moves fast. Success comes from the ability to make decisions quickly and to make them well. The secret to that success? Access to real-time data. In contrast to real-time data, using manually created historical snapshots of data is useful however, generally, any problem or opportunity showing up will have magnified in the time it took you to build the report. Function Point understands the value of speed in decision-making, so our creative agency management software uses real-time data to power reporting. At your fingertips, whenever you need, are real-time insights to everything from team capacity, job timelines and budget status through to payments and expenses. Real-time dynamic updates across projects, with all the related implications for time and cost, mean you never need to worry about whether you’re up-to-date. Function Point ensures that you are.

4. Track what matters

Even with the speed and sophistication of technology today, reporting for the sake of reporting can be a time sink. When you report on numbers that aren’t meaningful, or which don’t generate insights that enable decision-making or some kind of action, you waste time and risk missing the most significant problems and opportunities for your agency. Invest time in identifying the metrics that matter most to your business. Then use technology to track those specific metrics. Function Point helps you accelerate tracking what really matters in your business by delivering 26 pre-built reports out-of-the-box. With options to report on a comprehensive range of agency “table stakes” metrics, including time management, job dependencies, profitability status and dynamic updates to catch any changes, you will be on track to make better-informed decisions.

5. Customized reports

Every agency is slightly different in the processes, systems and applications they use. Those differences are important because they often form the foundation of competitive advantage. To cater to the unique qualities of every different agency, it is essential to have the ability to customise reports to create the insights you need in your business. It is also important to recognise that different agency stakeholders may need different perspectives into agency operations. One-size reporting doesn’t always fit all needs. Function Point’s all-in-one agency management solution provides customizable reporting capabilities, giving you the flexibility to create the specific data-based reporting views you, and your different stakeholders, need.

6. Visualization 

We all absorb information differently. For most people, the human brain finds it easier to process lots of information through data visualizations. Therefore, utilizing images instead of numbers and words in your report will improve its effectiveness.

The primary goal of creating business reports is to summarize significant facts gathered during operations. Using numerically backed visual evidence is the best way to back up claims. When data is mapped to visualizations using business intelligence software, users can spot at-a-glance areas needing attention or improvement. With data visualizations, you give your report more authority while making it simpler to compare, decipher, and summarize.

Function Point’s cloud-based agency management solution features comprehensive business intelligence reporting, giving agencies the visibility and insights necessary to fix problems and pursue opportunities.

7. Layout 

We’ve all experienced the situation where we’re given reporting in such a complex format that, at first sight, it doesn’t seem to hold any meaning. Just because you have the ability to map your data and numbers into a pie chart or scatter plot doesn’t make it a useful visualization. As important to tapping into the right data to create a visualization is creating the best visualization to maximize understanding of the data.

Do not undervalue the business report’s layout. A thoughtfully designed layout can help readers better understand the information. Initially, it’s wise to choose adequate margins, taking into account how your report will be best presented.

Additionally, pay attention to each component’s role and maintain their consistency. Graphics and charts should be properly spaced and positioned to create a smooth flow. Utilizing white space and purposefully aligning the pieces to enhance page balance is preferable.

Function Point’s reporting capabilities deliver practical, intuitive options for you to create meaningful visualizations. We enable you to choose from a variety of visualization layouts to easily create, edit and share the ideal visualizations for your business, all in real-time. Our reporting capabilities are designed with best practices in mind, so visualizations aren’t cluttered or too complex to comprehend.

8. Streamlined Dataflow 

Your company report’s navigation is another crucial component. Include navigational aids like page numbers, appendices, or subheads for sections. By explaining the report’s essential points, you provide an agenda for readers to follow easily.

A table of contents is especially helpful if you have a lengthy report. You can provide hyperlinks for viewers to quickly access the pertinent section of the report by clicking on them. Your viewers may be executives or managers who are looking for a quick bottom line. Start by deciding which information is most important in order to facilitate this. 

The ideal reports should have a straightforward data flow. Use a simple type of content hierarchy for your reports: begin with a headline and move down through the paragraphs. You should refrain from including extensive information that makes it difficult to comprehend quickly. Instead, inform your audience with a clear content table and highlight insightful information in each section for them.

Your report’s layout should be as straightforward as possible to improve communication and information flow.

Experience best practice reporting

In all our years of working with agencies we’ve yet to find an agency owner who truly enjoys surprises. Yes, there is the occasional good surprise. Like the marquee client who chooses your agency to run their account, against all the odds.

More likely are the unpleasant surprises. Like the disorganized client your agency consistently over-services. Or the multiple internal meetings required to solve a client problem which unexpectedly roll up into hours of time each month that erode profitability.

The irony is that the insights every agency owner needs to solve problems and pursue opportunities already exist inside their business. Best practice reporting is the solution to extracting those insights.

The good news is that best practice reporting is quick and easy to achieve with agency management software. Experience Function Point’s best-of-breed reporting and business intelligence capabilities by requesting a demo.

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