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Author: Elyse, PMP, CPHIMS
February 25, 2004

When developing a report for management, there are certain characteristics that the report must contain in order to be useful.

First, the report should be information, not just raw data. A report of over 500 pages of records to be looked at individually, is just a lot of data. But taking that data, grouping, categorizing, and doings simple stats on provides better information for the intended audience.

Second, the information should be relevant to the purpose it is to be used for. Don't report that in 2001 we had 3 instances of this item, when that is not timely or pertinant to the task at hand.

Third, the information should be sensitive enough to allow for comparisons for the audience. Basically don't overly summarize the information into one lump sum. Have various categories.

Fourth, the information should be unbiased. Allow the information to be objective so the audience can decipher and form their own conclusions. Don't have the information presented in a format that leads to biased conclusions.

Fifth, information should be timely. It should be there before the audience realizes they need it to make a decision. Have the needed information accurately timed with the operational need.

Sixth, information should be action-oriented. The information should be presented in a format to reach the end goal of the projects or business process. It should not be based on passive indicators of items one can do nothing about.

Seventh, information should be displayed in a uniform structure. All reports should have a standardized structure. This way the audiences has an idea of where to look for certain information. For instance, have one report to one page, not one page having two reports that linearly look like the same thing.

Eighth, information should be performance-targeted. It should be designed and presented in accordance with predetermined business goals and objectives.

Last, information should be cost-effective. The benefits from having the information should outweigh the cost of collecting and processing that same information.

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