Operational Reporting and Why Your Business Needs It

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Operational Reporting and Why Your Business Needs It

Operational reporting is the process of regularly providing the complete report of an organization’s day to day activities and operations. These reports provide operational insights for time intervals like hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly. Serving various functions, these reports at times need to be customized for specific insights. Stakeholders can interact with these reports and filter, drill down or drill up to reach the desired details.

Many organizations use operational reporting to expedite their decision-making. While many, use them to take a broader look at the organization’s activities and make long term strategic decisions. Operational reporting can provide granular level insights in real-time for fast-paced industries. These reports can include data regarding ongoing processes, expenses, revenue, production, accounting, and more. The focus however remains on providing short-term insights, so the information doesn’t get outdated.

What are the Benefits of Operational Reporting?

  • It provides live insights as easy to understand interactive dashboards and helps in expediting decision making.
  • Organizations can track progress at all levels of operations, improve efficiencies in various departments, and save time and money.
  • Leaders can identify upcoming trends and patterns and strategize accordingly, while executives can improve upon their day to day work to enhance productivity.

Examples of Operational Reporting

Operational reporting has extensive use across industries and domains. Below are a few examples of how these domains use it in different ways:

  • The manufacturing industry uses operational reporting to monitor the complete production line, measure individual employee efficiency, and reduce machine downtimes. They can also forecast raw material needs, optimize production rate, analyze defect rates, save time, and reduce operational costs.
  • Operational reporting enables the retail industry to spot market and product trends and helps in strategizing the product line. It helps the retailers to track the individual store business, analyze inventory to know which products to replenish and find out which brands and products are doing better, and which are constituting to the deadstock. Stores can monitor the sales growth against benchmarks, recognize loyal customers, and know which customer segment is most lucrative. Retailers can use these insights to manage the supply chain effectively, optimize productivity, and ultimately improve sales.
  • Marketing and advertising use these reports to track campaign progress and performance and can find out which channel is performing well, and which isn’t. They can know the average impressions vs conversions, the average number of leads, their quality, and engagement, improve CPC, and generate better ROI.
  • The IT Industry uses operational reporting to track project status, monitor goals vs actual progress, and compare between ideal, available, actual & billed hours. PMO can analyze project overheads, revenue leakages, and revenue distribution across clients, business units and products, resource allocation and monitor the timeline compliance.
  • Operational reporting is enabling the supply chain vertical to track and quantify its performance. Managers can monitor the inventory-to-sales ratio, see inventory turnover trends over a specific duration, number of units per transaction, perfect order and backorder rate, and measure inventory accuracy.

Types of Operational Reporting

Real-time operational reports provide live operational data analytics and insights for the fast-paced industries. Managers and other executives can access these reports in the form of dynamic dashboards with trends, numbers, and statistics changing in real-time. They can observe performance and other data and make informed and proactive data-driven decisions and strategize in the short term. This helps in providing business a dynamic pace of work, making them more adaptive and responsive, improve overall performance, and measure their success and failure as the situation unfolds.

Monthly operational reporting makes an essential activity by keeping track of the progress on a monthly basis. These reports and dashboards inform the stakeholders and high-level executives regarding month on month trends and updates, organization’s progress, and department-wise performance. It provides a holistic view of the operations, aiding in making short term decisions as well as includes long term strategic initiatives. A well-made monthly operational report provides a balanced view of the organization, consisting of top-level KPIs along with a detailed view of certain aspects. It helps managers and employees to stay on track and revise goals consistently and drill down whenever needed.

Almost all industries and their various departments need data-driven operational reports and dashboards. These reports help them measure their progress, track the goal completion, enhance customer satisfaction, and improve operational efficiencies. For example, financial operational reports provide an overall view of the institution’s finance as well as provides a combination of important KPIs. These metrics can be drilled down to the lowest levels to know minor details like daily performance. These dashboards can also provide an eagle eye’s view of the complete operations to assess the success and find anomalies to improve upon.

Best Practices for Operational Reporting

  • The operational reports should be self-explanatory with minimalistic structure and must have an intuitive flow. This will help the stakeholders reach the desired insights quickly and navigate seamlessly. The dashboards must follow the top to bottom approach in terms of KPIs. It should begin with the most critical KPIs first, gradually moving to the next level of insights like trends and patterns. The last level should list more detailed and granular information to provide a holistic view.
  • Before creating any operational report, the target audience and the goal for the report should be defined to have a clear direction. In case the report is serving more than one group or has shared interest, a separate dashboard or functions like filter, sort, and more should be provided.
  • The operational reports must have a data story to convey. After understanding the goals and audience, the selection of the right KPIs is critical. By providing a balanced mix of metrics will help the leaders in identifying the areas that need attention and the ones that need to be tracked regularly.

As the organizations keep growing and expanding, the significance of these operational reports increases. These reports not only provide a time to time picture of the entire organization or division but helps the leaders track their performance. Be it any industry or domain, operational reporting is imperative to stay on top of all the processes and get a concise yet complete view. With the emergence and wide acceptance of BI, operational reporting is bound to make positive change across the hierarchy and horizontally too.

Rohini Mandiwal