What is Operational Reporting?
Operational reports provide a precisely formatted, ready-to-analyze view of an organization’s operational activities such as sales performance, manufacturing productivity, or patient care efficacy.
There are many different types of operational reports. Understanding which data each type of report conveys and how it presents that data can make it easier to choose the best types of operational reports for your organization.
Examples of Operational Reports
Operational reporting provides day-to-day analytics and business intelligence (BI) to help workers track performance and make course corrections to stay at the top of their competitive field. They may be utilized internally or shared with clients externally. For instance, financial consultants might share data with their clients about their investments, while online marketing agencies could use internal operational reports to measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. There are many different types of operational reports that are used to convey specific data within different industries, such as:
- In advertising or marketing, operational reports might share data on leads generated, cost-per-click and conversions.
- In the technology industry, companies might use operational reports to measure the quality and timeliness of tech support and truck dispatches.
- An airline might use operational reporting to track on-time flights and spot trends in delays to improve performance.
Types of Operational Reporting
Operational report formats vary based on the type of data presented and frequency of the reports—as well as the BI software used to create the reports. An operational report can be shared as PDFs, documents, via web browsers, or printed.
Pixel perfect reporting, for instance, is optimal for reporting with high precision. Pixel perfect reports are used for invoices, documents, or other forms that need to be set exactly to spec. An example of this would be a tax form that needs to be exported or printed and archived for regulatory compliance.
Operational reporting also encompasses business dashboards, an operational report format that relies on data visualizations to present information in real time to allow for speed-of-thought decision-making.
Applications can streamline operational reporting with embedded reporting solutions that work with the software already used to collect business data.
How do you choose the right operational report for your needs? Think about:
- What data do I need to share?
- How frequently do those analytics change?
- What objectives do I hope to achieve through the data?
Operational reports in the form of tables are frequently used to analyze historical data and make sweeping, long-term changes. Embedded dashboards and data visualizations, on the other hand, can help busy workers make decisions on the fly that can improve everyday operations and productivity.
What Are The Benefits of Operational Reporting?
Operational reporting permits business leaders to track trends and analyze data in real time—it expedites the decision-making process by putting key analytics in front of decision-makers at a glance. Operational reporting solutions that integrate reports, dashboards and data visualizations into one application can help businesses track progress, improve productivity, and adjust to market trends rapidly.
It can also function as a marketing or retention tool within B2C or B2B companies. An ad agency can provide on-demand analytics to its customers to present the results of their ad spend and the benefits of using the agency.
Organizations with robust operational reporting capabilities can also offer the service as a value-add to their customers. Credit card companies, for example, use massive clustered servers and report bursting to share account and tax information with commercial cardholders. They provide operational dashboards that allow commercial account holders to manage and track travel, entertainment, and purchasing expenditures.
Best Practices for Operational Reporting
- If operational reports are cumbersome, outdated, or difficult to read, the vast benefits can vanish quickly. Operational dashboards should be intuitive to navigate, putting all the most important information in an easy-to-read format at the top.
- Dashboards should use an inverted pyramid format to share the most important, high-level information first; followed by data that shows why the KPIs are important and highlights statistical trends; followed by a more granular look that should lead to actionable insights for improvement.
- Make sure to focus on the data points the user needs. If more than one group of people will view the reports, consider using separate reports or filters within the report to sort the data based on what’s important to each user.
When to Use Operational Reporting
The use of operational reports varies as widely as their formats and the types of users relying on the reports to achieve greater business success.
- Daily, or even hourly, operational reports can help workers in fast-paced industries react to situations quickly, be proactive about improving business processes, and measure their success as situations change.
- High-level executives might only need monthly reports to track the company’s progress and assimilate broad-based performance overviews for specific departments.
- Businesses in industries such as the financial sector, technology, retail sales, advertising, marketing, and healthcare, among others, rely on BI insights generated in operational reports and dashboards to showcase their successes, improve sales or customer satisfaction, and find better ways to execute their core competencies.
Embedding Operational Reports
Operational reports help application teams present data and distribute information to the right people, in the right format. By embedding operational reports in their applications, product teams can give their end users interactive data visualizations and detailed information in highly precise formats and layouts. They can easily be distributed to different users, departments, or other companies via web browsers, email, PDF, and print.
Operational reports let you create any layout imaginable, with precise control over templates and pixel-perfect formatting. An embedded operational reporting solution must be able to meet the complex needs that are common in reporting scenarios—including requirements around layout, customization, and delivery.