Business reports provide users or readers with useful information. There are various types of reports that businesses may prepare. Usually, these reports have a proper structure and are long in size. However, these are formal reports. Formal reports, as the name suggests, are official or strict documents relating to specific issues.
Most businesses operate on a formal report basis. These reports are crucial in helping companies and firms communicate critical issues and information.
Sometimes, however, companies may not use the same structure or strict reporting. In these cases, they may utilize informal reports. Informal reports also play a crucial role in a company’s operations.
What is Informal Reporting?
Informal reporting is a process in which companies report information without using any specific structure.
Informal reports include brief and unstructured information that can be critical. Similarly, these reports have lesser sections and are, thus, shorter than formal reports. Usually, employees in companies create and use informal reports.
Informal reporting is critical within a company. Not every report or information must be formal. Sometimes, companies must convey information more quickly.
Therefore, they will neglect any formal structure in favor of efficient and effective communication. There are several types of informal reports that companies may use. Usually, these include informational and analytical reports.
Informal reporting allows companies to communicate information without needing specific rules or formats. However, informal reports are strictly for internal use only.
Companies do not use these reports to convey information to external parties. External communications usually require a formal structure. However, internal networks do not require the same.
Informal reports may include emails, letters, memos, digital postings, etc. Although these reports may have a structure, it is not a requirement. Similarly, the channel of communication may impact the format of the report.
However, the writing and purpose of these reports will stay the same. However, informal reports must still consider some points.
What are the key points to consider in Informal Reporting?
Although informal reporting does not follow a specific structure, it must still consider some factors.
These factors are formalities to which companies must adhere. These formalities do not impose a structure or format on the informal reports.
Instead, these exist to enhance the information presented in those reports. Some of the points to consider in informal reporting are as follows.
The name “informal reporting” does not imply these reports do not have any planning involved. Usually, informal reports are crucial in conveying helpful information.
Therefore, when managers or employees create these reports, they need to plan for them. Some companies may also have a template for these reports that makes this process straightforward.
Like any other report, informal reports must also follow some primary rules. Employees should plan what they want to include in the report, who their audience is, why the report is necessary, etc.
This information will provide them with a base on how to prepare the report. During the planning stage, it is also crucial to contemplate the content of the report.
Overall, the planning stage within informal reporting is the most crucial. If done properly, this stage can help employees in writing an effective informal report.
Similarly, it also helps define the outline that employees can use for the final draft. Once done, employees can move to the next stage, which is the actual writing.
The writing stage in the informal report doesn’t usually require much effort. However, it depends on how well employees plan these reports.
With informal reports, employees must ensure to keep the information short and precise. However, these reports should not ignore or neglect any fundamental details in favour of conciseness.
The writing stage for informal reporting requires employees to have business writing skills. Although informal, these reports are still within a business environment.
However, it does not imply that employees should use jargon or a specific language. Instead, it means they should know how to structure information to convey the message to a specific audience.
Once written, the informal reporting process requires employees to consider the format for their reports.
Usually, it must include headings to guide readers, use a clear and descriptive format, make the information presentable, etc. The formatting stage primarily focuses on structuring informal reports so that users can understand them.
As mentioned, some companies will have a specific outline or template that can help employees with formatting.
However, even if these do not exist, employees must focus on clarity and understandability. Overall, the formatting stage deals with sorting information logically so users can comprehend it without effort.
The last stage within informal reporting is revising. This stage is crucial in assuring the informal report is free from any errors. Similarly, this stage focuses on ensuring employees don’t miss any critical information.
The revising stage also deals with comparing the final draft with the initial plan. This way, employees can ascertain their report meets their expectations.
The revision stage also includes proofreading and editing the report. Sometimes, having the report read by someone else can also help get a fresh perspective over it.
On top of that, employees can use various grammar and proofreading tools to help them with it. This process can be significantly helpful in avoiding any unprofessional mistakes.
What is the purpose of Informal Reporting?
The primary purpose of informal reporting is to convey information that is helpful in decision-making. As mentioned, informal reports have an internal use.
Usually, these reports include details on a company’s operations that can be critical for several reasons. Companies rely on this information for operational decisions and strategies.
Similarly, informal reporting allows companies to ignore specific structures or rules. Instead, it focuses on presenting information in an understandable manner.
While formal reports also have a similar purpose, they may sacrifice effectiveness in favour of structure. However, informal reports do not fixate on the format but instead, consider the content.
Another purpose of informal reporting is to facilitate the quick transfer of information. When companies do not fixate on structure, the communication process becomes much more efficient.
Therefore, informal reporting allows employees to convey information in a shorter amount of time. If companies focus on formal reporting, they will lose the efficiency that comes with informal reporting.
What is the difference between Informal and Formal Reporting?
There are several differences between informal and formal reporting. The primary variation between the two is that of a structure.
Usually, formal reporting follows a preset structure that aids employees. These reports have a strict and prescribed format. However, informal reporting does not use a structure or any strict rules.
Formal reporting includes information often conveyed to an external audience. However, informal reporting is usually internal. With formal reporting, the objective is to help management in making long-term and strategic decisions.
Similarly, it includes conveying a message to external parties. While informal reporting can also help in decision-making, it usually focuses on operational decisions.
Formal reporting also includes reports that are longer in size. Its length may come as a result of its adherence to a structure or rules.
In contrast, informal reports are usually shorter in length. On top of that, formal reporting is less common compared to informal reporting. Usually, companies rely on informal reports for day-to-day decisions and, therefore, need them more.
Informal reporting is a process in which companies communicate without using a structure. It includes reports that do not adhere to a specific format but focus on conveying a message.
The process involves several stages, including planning, writing, formatting and revising. The primary purpose of informal reporting is to communicate useful information and aid decision-making.