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REPORT WRITING

A Project Management
Perspective

Introduction
Who has had formal training in report writing?
What courses or training have you attended?
What did you do during your educational years
in respect of formal writing?
What types of writing are you involved in or
required to do?
What types of written report does your
organisation produce?

Aim & Objective


To present report writing from a project
management perspective.
Describe how reports, may be designed,
managed and written

Reports & Their Function

Communication & Information Logistics


Right Information
Right Time
Right Place
Right People
Right Medium

Reports are meant to be read &


understood

Elements of Project Management and Report Writing

A story should have a beginning a muddle


and an end

A project should have a controlled start,


middle, and end

Project Management Framework

Scope
Scope is defined by the terms of reference or the project
requirements feasibility, design, inspection, QA, QC,
progress, design reports, technical reports etc.
Requirements for the report and their content.
Work breakdown structure.
Tasks and required resources.
Extent of data acquisition, data required,
Approvals required
Change management needs to be considered and
version control

Procurement
Obtaining data, source
Copyright. Photocopies, Intellectual
Property.
Specialist authors or consultants and
necessary Terms of Reference.

Communication

Issuing of requests for data


Meetings
Reviews
Changes
Internal and external meetings,
Interim drafts and reviews.

Stakeholders
Potentially the end users be they internal
or external stakeholders.
A Project may be judged, rightly or
wrongly, on the standard of its reporting.

Human Resource
Appropriate personnel
Availability
Training,

Risk

Intellectual property
Reliance on information by others (not direct client)
Ppublication/use of data from others
Negligent misrepresentation
Disclaimers
Reliance on information from others (substantiation).
Paucity of data
Accuracy
Sensitivity / Confidentiality
Consequences of failing to meet deadlines..

Integration
Client/external party requirements (style,
content changes)
Internal co-ordination

Quality

Style
Format
Compliance with requirements
Standard style for ease of editing & collation
Standard for drawings, colour copies,
including large drawings etc.
Content, Relevance, Analysis, Presentation

Time

Planning
Date acquisition
Production of drafts, figures
Editing
Proofs
Final delivery.
Changes
Availability of authors, checkers, approvers.
The last minute is for closing the report and issuing it,
not for carrying out rewrites and proof
reading/corrections

Cost

Data acquisition
Printing
Production of Drafts
Human resource input
Rejection & re-drafting
Changes
Repeat copies / Additional Copies

Managing the Report Writing


Process
To manage is to forecast and plan, to
organise, to command, to coordinate and
to control
Henri Fayol, 1916

Management Functions

Management Principles
Division of Work - planning and subdividing
/allocating the work
Authority - the person in charge with
responsibility
Discipline - through good leadership and respect
Unity of Command - to avoid conflicts
Unity of Direction - a common interest in
achieving the same objectives
Subordination of individual interest to the
general interest - a focus on the greater good
rather than individual goals

Division of Work, Discipline &


Chain of Command
The aspects of authority, discipline, unity of
command and direction, and subordination
may sound very draconian and oldfashioned but in writing reports these are
essential.
If a writer insists on doing it my way then
they should be reminded that report writing
is a team game and there is no I in the
word team but there are three in discipline.

Organising, Controlling &


Communicating
Creation of a checklist with WBS, OBS,
CommBS
Checklist used on large, complex reports or for
routine reports such as monthly progress
reports.
Periodic reviews, particularly for larger reports,
are to identify /correct errors in the report.
Correct the report design or any deviation from
the aim of the report

Report Overview
Content - Reports should be clear and
structured
Relevant Information only
Analysis of Information should be
Presented well

Coordinating
Reports do not magically appear and
coordination is required in pulling any report
together
The cordinator can be a dedicated editor or the
PM
The task of an editor is to ensure that the
writer(s) has effectively communicated the
information contained within the report and that
the report may be understood and complies with
the requirements and deadlines.

Planning the Report


I keep six honest serving men
(They taught me all I know)
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who

Rudyard Kipling

Why is the report required and for whom? Purpose


What must be reported /communicated? - Scope
When is the report needed? Time
How will the report be written? - Quality / Cost
Where will the report be produced? Communication / Organisation
Who will write and check the report? Cost /
Human Resources

Why a report? - Contract /Project


Requirement
Project requirements or terms of reference
will often define the types of reports
required as part of a contract or
specification
The reader of the report may dictate how
the report is to be written.

What is Required? - Work/Product


Breakdown Structure
The scope of the report should be broken down
into a logical framework defining the main
sections of the report and content.
Sections and their content may be based on
similar previous types of report.
The process for identifying keywords or content
may be from the terms of reference for a report,
organisational policy / style, previous reports,
mind-mapping or brainstorming.

When is the Report Needed? Schedule & Programme


Most reports have a deadline and late reporting
can be tantamount to no reporting at all.
Work back from the due date allowing time for
compilation, issue and delivery, checking,
proofing and production of figures etc.
Time for writing and reviewing the report.
Procrastination or Student Syndrome - report
writing is often put off until the 'last minutethe
last minute usually belongs to somebody else

How Will the Report Be Written?


- Methodology & Control
the essence of the report writing process is
acquisition organizing and presenting
information in a logical mannerand
Succinctness (Comprehensive but Compact
avoiding over-analysis)
Relevance
Accurate and Factual (assumptions stated and
justified)
Unambiguous and not contradictory
Complete and self explanatory

Where Will the Report Be Produced? Location & Communication


Communication between authors, potential time
differences, possible breakdown in
communications due to physical separation or
conflict due to technical or resource reasons.
Lack of Face to face meetings
The Last Minute - often the most crisis-torn
minute. The effort needed in finalising reports
produced from multiple locations should not be
underestimated admin staff can work to stupid
oclock to meet deadlines.

Who Will Write & Check the


Report? - Organisation
The roles and responsibilities for the individuals can be
determined from the WBS.
Even the 'table of contents; has an owner who is
responsible for the physical issue of the report and its
compilation.
Several personnel may be involved in writing and
producing a report. Their efforts should be coordinated /
orchestrated through a lead author responsible for
technical matters and that the report is correct.
A person who can review reports for presentation, style
and accuracy of the written word should edit reports

Change
If it becomes apparent that changes to the report
content or design are required, then it may be
necessary to change or amend the design of the
report.
The impact on other writers needs to be
communicated.
Change needs to be addressed in terms of what
and why and when, and how and where and
who it affects and be managed accordingly.

Writing the Report


I am sorry to have made such a long
speech, but I did not have enough time to
write a shorter one.
Winston Churchill
I didn't have time to write a short letter, so
I wrote long one instead Mark Twain

Presentation & Format


A standard report style also assists in compiling
reports, particularly when contributions are
required from a number of authors.
Standard style allows the report producer to
compile the report rather than focus on format.
Report production is about producing a report,
not embarking on an adventure in printing and
publishing

Report Structure

Title Page
Table of Contents
Summary or Abstract
Preface or Foreword
Main Text (as a single or multiple, numbered volumes)
Figures and Tables (unless included judiciously within the main text)
Acknowledgement
References
Appendices (within a single report or as separate volumes)
Enclosures such as maps, drawings etc..

Report Content
Beginning - Introduction & Aim
Middle
- Project Description
- Data Acquisition
- Results or Findings
- Discussion/Analysis of Information
End

-Conclusions &/or Recommendations

Introduction & Aim


Who is the report for or who commissioned the report?
Is the report internal or external and who wrote it?
When was the report written, what were project dates,
when was research or study carried out, what is the
reporting period?
Why is the report being written and what is to be
described
What is the report about this constitutes the aim of the
report and should, where possible be singular.
The aim, as in a mission, is an unequivocal statement in
the definitive.

Project Description or Report


Background
A project should be described in terms of the
type of scheme, geographic location, size, value,
benefit and future or current plans.
For large projects the description should focus
on the part of the project to which the report
refers.
In respect of background it may be that a report
is being written following an accident, or
incident, as a result of a claim or tender
evaluation or a situation report.

Data Acquisition or Data Used


type of data referred to
how much data is available for any data
type or location
how data was obtained
of what use is the data, if not readily
apparent

Results or Findings
The findings of analysis of the data, should be
presented as a separate section or sections.
The data should be described and, if
appropriate, summarised as tables or graphs
within the report
Detailed results should be described in summary
and included in tabular or graphical form within
the main body of the text.
Actual results should be included in the report as
appendices or annexures or referenced.

Discussion or Analysis of
Information
The reason for any discussion is to
address and answer the aims and
objectives of the report that are contained
within the introduction.
A proper discussion will allow the aim of
the report to be satisfied.

Conclusions
Conclusions are conclusions and not a repetition of
statements made in the report.
Conclusions must be based on the information that is
available and that has been presented within or referred
to within the report.
Conclusions should be based on the discussions or
opinions expressed in the report and new information or
incompatible conclusions should not be offered.
It may be necessary to draw some interim conclusions,
findings or deductions within the section on results or
within the discussion to assist the reader to understand
an argument or the reasoning behind an argument.

Recommendations
For further work, more data, etc

Headings & Sub-headings;


Taxonomy

Other Contents
Appurtenances - Tables, Figures,
Illustrations & Drawings
Appendices and Annexures.
Summaries, Abstracts, Prefaces,
Forewords, Footnotes &
Acknowledgements
References & Referencing
Bibliography

Grammar & Style


Reports should be grammatically correct so that
the meaning of the data described and any
arguments are presented in a are clear, concise
and unambiguous manner.
A good report conveys information in a form that
the reader can understand readily.
In order to convey information well it is preferable
to use simple sentence construction rather than
complex or even pompous and verbose
language.
Concrete rather than abstract terms should also
be used to convey meaning.

Punctuation

Other Considerations
Numbers, Dates & Units of Measurement
Abbreviations & Acronyms
Rules for usage and consistency

Conclusions
Well begun done is half done (Aristotle)
Successful reporting comes from good planning
which can result in a definitive requirement with
a logical set of contents.
A report should have an introduction a middle
and an ending.
The ending is normally a conclusion or
recommendation or even a request for a
decision.

Reports should have an introduction, a main


body and an ending.
Reports must have an aim and this must be
ascertained at an early stage in the report writing
process.
A report should be designed so that the required
sections are structured in a recognisable form. If
the design of a report is not suited to the aim of
the report then change the design.

All data or information must be presented in a


logical and systematic way.
All tables and figures must be necessary.
A report must have the appropriate Content, the
information must be Relevant, the information
should be fully Analysed and the Presentation
should be consistent and to a predefined style.
Reports should be checked and reviewed
rigorously before being issued.

Concluding Comment
to talk without thinking is to shoot without
aiming (18 Century English Proverb)
th

If one writes a report without planning then


the report may well be readbut it wont
hit the mark.