Honestly, reporting is not an activity frequently listed as a hobby. It’s a challenging part of any job that many people speedily complete in order to check off their to-do list. It may be safe to call reporting ‘that bitter vegetable that no-one wants to eat.
But reporting matters. And without it, many organisations and programmes would not be able to find ways to do things better. So with such a benefit, why does reporting still have a perception of being cumbersome? Perhaps shifting how we think of reporting and seeing it as the very activity that can help us propel our work to the next level will help us exceed our objectives.
Here are three ways to help you rethink programme reporting:
1. Reports can help build credibility
Whether you receive funding from a donor or financing from an investor, being able to show how you used their financial support will garner trust that can help secure more support. And while you may be tempted to only report on the good stuff, it is the honest and reflective reports that will help get you the trust and support that you need to continue your work.
2. Reports can help show the depth of your planning
We all know it is difficult getting a complete message across at the start of a programme. And while due diligence reports are submitted as part of funding proposals, they don’t provide the richness that evidence-based reports do. That is why the golden opportunity of showing the proof of outcomes, whether they are positive or negative, should be used to convey the complete message, with stories and statistics to support them.
3. Reports can help you identify ways to innovate
So true is the phrase ‘be stubborn about your goals but flexible about your methods’. In a world where continuous improvement is key to making progress, meaningful and honest programme reporting will help you spot new ways to get the most value while either reducing or maintaining time and tools used. Take this as a challenge to make innovation relevant for your programme.
By thinking progressively about developing data-rich and storytelling programme reporting, you are able to present the importance of your work while gaining much-needed insights that will enable you to hold yourself accountable to the goals that you strive to achieve. When you couple this new way of thinking with the vision of your organisation, the impact of your work will enjoy a deeper meaning for those you are helping.