Understanding the task
The key part of the preparation phase is to work out exactly what you are being asked to do. What are you being asked to analyse or what problem have you being asked to solve?
Take a look at the report task below from first year Business course:
Prepare a report to a potential investor who is considering investing in Navitas Ltd (NVT). In this report, you should:
- assess NVT's financial strengths and weaknesses, after
- interpreting and analysing at least three years annual reports of NVT and its competitor using ratio analysis
- examining relevant industry statistics
- analysing relevant stock exchange/market information
- analysing relevant media information, and
- gathering other relevant information you think is important to your analysis.
- state, with reasons, whether or not the investor should invest in NVT.
- identify limitations of your analysis and any additional information you would require to improve your analysis of NVT over the period specified.
Whilst there are a number of aspects to the question, the key part is point 2 - should the investor invest in the company or not. This should form the key message of the report. All the other points will aid in coming to that key message.
It's important to break down your report questions to determine exactly what you are being asked to do.
Engineering and computer science reports
Consider following question from an Engineering design course
This assessment item is a formal design report that documents the systems engineering design process that you undertook for your project. The document should outline the thinking in the application of the design tools, not just the final design decisions. In particular, the optimality or goodness of the final design should be justified in the report through evidence provided by the Systems Engineering Design process that you have undertaken.
Note the wording "should be justified through evidence". This gives a clue to what you need to be focusing on when writing up your report and will help guide your analysis and research, the next step in the process.