There’s something eternally frustrating about non-standard, customer-facing documents in an organization—especially when you’re the one that has to deal with the confusion first hand.
Like that one time you were running on four hours of sleep and needed to send a status report to a client. You had no idea what the last report said or what yours should say, so you decided to wing it and ended up including a cat gif instead of the current state of your client’s project…oops. Your colleagues all made fun of you, it was a whole big thing. You vowed to never make that mistake again by “trying to remember to send the right thing next time”. We all know how reliable telling yourself you'll remember to do something is.
This is the exact reason why folks should consider standardizing their reporting process and documents—your job is too important to be jeopardized by a half asleep version of yourself accidentally sending a cat gif to a client. Here are five ways you can avoid the debacle detailed above by implementing a few basic practices surrounding reporting—and they're free 😊.
1. Identify your audience and what matters to them
Who is this report for? What do they care about? These are the questions that should guide the content of your report. Your audience (whether it be a client, prospect, or internal stakeholder) is taking time out of their day to read the information you have so succinctly compiled. If you aren’t simply and clearly presenting the information your audience is looking for, your report is nothing more than a waste of time (and a waste of paper if they decide to print it out).
2. Establish static vs. dynamic content in your report
Identifying which parts of your report tend to change and which don’t is the first step in revitalizing your reporting process. Spoiler alert, our main objective is to turn that report into a reusable template. The goal is to get your report to a point where the dynamic parts of it are standardized, the static parts are left alone, and the report itself can be used over and over again.
3. Cut out any unnecessary information and solidify the static content
Once you’ve identified the dynamic and static portions of your report, the cruft (or stuff nobody cares about) begins to reveal itself. Do yourself a favor and rip that stuff right outta there! Remember, anything in your report that is extraneous and that your audience doesn’t care about, is a waste of space. While cleaning up your document, review the static content once more to make sure that it will ultimately stand the test of time. The more confident you are with the static content in your report, the less likely it is that you will have to update your final report template in the future.
4. Turn your document into a reusable template
This is probably the most important part of this whole process and the point where you will finally start to see the fruits of your labor. Turning your report into a template is super simple using Woodpecker. Since you’ve already identified the dynamic portions of your report, all you have to do is select these sections and assign them to Woodpecker fields. Save your doc, and you’ll be left with a standardized, clean, and shareable template that you can use over and over again (no more accidental cat gifs! Yay!).
5. Share it with your team!
The two biggest upsides from turning your status report into a template are (1) standardization and (2) the ability to reuse the report again and again. So…share that puppy with the rest of your team! They’ll now have access to a standardized, easy to use status report that requires zero duplicate work and keeps the focus on the dynamic data in the document. Don’t reinvent the wheel each time you send a status report, do the work once, and let Woodpecker handle the rest for you!
With these tips, your status report headaches will be a thing of the past and you’ll easily be able to set up some basic standardization for your reporting process.
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