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Plan Your Report

Approach report writing like any other project


The process of writing a report or a paper should be treated as a project, whether this is for a boss, a client or a tutor. The process of report writing is not much different if it is carried out within a company or as part of an academic course.

Projects have a purpose or objective. Part of the process of undertaking a project entails being clear about this purpose or objective, and deciding what information should be presented to satisfy this purpose. This means being clear about the purpose of what you are writing, identifying the information you will need to gather in order to support your writing, and how it should be presented to the client or tutor.

Having identified how you will tackle the project and identified the information you need, you must consider the resources required in order to complete your mission. This includes whether you need support from colleagues or specialists at any stage, and how much time you and your colleagues will need to complete their project tasks. This means you need to plan your project carefully to make sure your resources are sufficient for the task ahead.

All projects need a plan to set out the stages necessary to reach various project milestones. If you don't have a plan you will not be able to anticipate the time and other resources needed to accomplish each part.

As a result of careful planning, you may realise early on that your resources are insufficient to achieve what you hoped for. This means you can identify those parts of your report that must now be done less thoroughly than you had hoped or that need to be treated more concisely. In some cases, early planning may enable you to negotiate for more resources to accomplish the objectives that a client is hoping for. In academic situations, this is generally not an option; you have to comply with deadlines and work as effectively as you can and write as concisely and constructively as you can in order to satisfy your reader. Lack of resources is rarely acceptable as an excuse for failure to meet a deadline.

Take a look at the pulldown menu on planning, where you will see some tools that will help you.

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