Describe the problem being analyzed in that business or community situation
executive summary (app. 150-200 words)
o table of contents
o introduction (app. 100-200 words)
o discussion (app. 900-1100 words)
o conclusions (app. 75-100 words)
o recommendations (app. 100-200 words)
The executive summary should be a stand-alone document. In other words, if a reader were to read only your executive summary, the reader would have a good understanding of the problem you are writing about and the solution you are proposing to that problem. In this report, your executive summary should be 150-200 words.
Table of Contents
In your introduction, you will tell your decision-maker what problem the report is analyzing. It will do the following
- describe the context of the work or community situation
- describe the problem being analyzed in that business or community situation
- state the questions your report will answer
- define any terms, if necessary
The discussion area is the main part of your report. In this section, you will provide evidence of the problem and justify your recommendations. You will need to be clear, thorough, and persuasive.
The following examples demonstrate the need for clarity, thoroughness, and persuasiveness:
- If you are writing a report recommending that your company allow teleworking, you do not want to write a few sentences about how teleworking is convenient. You want to quote some co-workers you have interviewed about how teleworking will benefit them.
- If you are writing a report recommending that your company move from Google mail to Outlook, you do not want a few sentences on how good Outlook is. You want to show some screen captures of Google mail to demonstrate that it is awkward, is cumbersome, or has inconvenient features. You also want to show some screen captures of Outlook to demonstrate that it does not feature these shortcomings and improves upon these problems.
- If you are writing a report recommending that a sidewalk be repaired in your neighborhood, you do not want a few sentences describing why sidewalks should be smooth. You want to show some photographs of the sidewalk that is in disrepair, demonstrating why its current state is unsafe, unsightly, or otherwise undesired.
- If you are writing a report recommending that your local high school repair parts of its football field, you do not want a few sentences describing the value of athletics for high school students. You want to show some photographs demonstrating where the field needs to be repaired, quote individuals that you have interviewed on the problems with the field now, etc.
Notice that in all four examples listed above, primary research was included. Interviews with co-workers or individuals in the community, screen captures of software applications, or photographs of the neighborhood or the football field all represent primary research. Such research adds to the persuasiveness of the report.
Without this type of evidence, the report is not thorough and lacks persuasiveness. The decision- maker will not be persuaded that the problem you are outlining is an actual problem unless you can demonstrate that it is an actual problem in the context.
Moreover, in the discussion, you describe, in paragraph form, your conclusions and your recommendations. You need to explain why you have come to these conclusions and why you are making these specific recommendations.
In the Conclusions section, you take an objective stance. You summarize the findings of your research without putting your own opinion into the analysis.
In your conclusion, you will do the following:
- summarize your findings
- connect your findings to the problem you have identified
- present the conclusions in parallel form
- bullet the list of conclusions
In the recommendation, you take a subjective stance in the report. You give your opinion on how the problem should be addressed.
In your recommendation, you will do the following:
- number specific steps of action you recommend in parallel form, beginning with a verb
- rank the recommendations, listing the most important recommendation first, the second
most important recommendation second, etc.
Please note that this section should be brief. A busy administrator does not want to pore through long, dense paragraphs trying to locate your recommendations. The decision-maker should be able to see at a glance what your recommendations are.