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Once you have completed all the necessary research from which to make recommendations and build a plan you may well have to prepare a report. The template provided below gives you the core areas and topic heading such a report will require.
For every organisation there will be additional items to be added and, depending upon the nature of the report, some areas may require more detail and therefore a section on its own.
The cover page gives your report the style and gravitas to make people want to read it. In most cases the cover page will include:
- The logo for your organisation
- The title of the report
- The author(s)
- The date
- And if required ‘Strictly Confidential’
Table of Contents
Your report is likely to be long enough to require a contents page. Normally any report longer than 10 pages would need a contents page. This gives the topic headings and the page numbers where each topic starts.
If your report is of a very forma nature, you may well have used a numbering system, in which case you should indicate the page number for each of the numbered items.
Table of Contents:
2.0 Stakeholders and Product
3.0 Objectives of the Communications Plan and Scope
4.0 Communication Channels and frequency
This allows those who are very busy, or who do not need to know all the fine details to get a quick and easy summary of the project. Typically it will not be longer than one page or two at the very maximum. The Executive Summary will cover:
- A summary of the project brief
- Methodologies used for the research
The introduction will contain a summary of the objectives of the project. If you were given a written brief then you should lay out in some detail what the written brief stated and the objectives laid out in the brief.
If you don’t have a written brief then you should indicate who commissioned the project, what they expected from the project and any criteria they may have laid down for the way in which the project should be conducted.
You need to briefly describe everything you are going to discuss.
1.1 Product and upcoming launch
1.2 Stakeholders and scope of the plan in terms of stakeholders
1.4 Objectives of the communications plan
- Analysis needed
- Critical discussion needed
- Special format!
- You must get this right – an introduction is giving the reader an overview of the paper – this is a special format you must follow.
This will include a description of the methodologies you used to carry out your research. This might include:
- SWOT/PEST it is often a good idea to show the charts so that they can be studied
- Organisational research
- Research of written materials. You will use this method
The methods section describes the rationale for the application of specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, and analyse information applied to understanding the research problem, thereby, allowing the reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability. The methodology section of a research paper answers two main questions: How was the data collected or generated? And, how was it analysed? The writing should be direct and precise and always written in the past tense.
3.0 Objectives and Scope of the communications plan
The objective of this Communication Plan is to outline the strategy and methodologies to be used for project communications, information distribution, feedback and stakeholder management, and how these will be managed during 2011/2012.
The Communication Plan builds on previous work undertaken by the Research Office (RO) and should be read in conjunction with the following documents:
Change Proposal – Research Office at CSU Research Office Change Management Plan Research Office Communication Plan Research Office Service Charter
The purpose of the Communication Plan is to facilitate the transition of the Research Office to a functional model and organizational structure that:
- Maximizes the opportunity for the Office to facilitate and support the attainment of the University’s strategic research objectives as outlined in the University Strategy 2011 – 2015, the University Research Strategic Plan 2011-2015 and position itself for supporting further plans.
- Collaborates effectively with the CSU research community in the core business of research and assists the University in achieving the performance objectives;
- Acknowledges and is responsive to the challenges of supporting a diverse research client base and their geographical distribution thus ensuring a whole University research management foundation;
- Ensures Research Office staff are known and recognized, that they have clear roles and the office operates in a way that encourages direct interaction with researchers and higher degrees students;
This document will cover:
Stakeholder Management – identification of project stakeholders, analysis of their requirements, and planning for their needs
Communication Planning – the communication and information needs of project stakeholders. Who needs what information, when, in what format, by what means and how to receive input and feedback and to create buy-in and ownership.
- You need to analyse [= examine; re-categorise; advantages/disadvantages]
- This paragraph includes a discussion of what you want to achieve with this communication plan.
- Scope: Which stakeholder group you are going to include – which one you are going to exclude. Why?
- You also need to briefly discuss the product, e.g. the challenges created by the fact that the product is ‘innovative’
- Demonstrates great capacity to identify the objective and scope of the communication plan (what does that mean? it means you clearly understand the objective and how much you need to talk about – and what you do NOT want to talk about)
- It clearly addresses processes associated with the launch of the product.
4.0 Channels & frequency
- You need
to evaluate [= analyse + discuss impact (negative
- & positive) and bring in another opinion.
- For each group of stakeholders propose channels, justify why you have chosen them and evaluate them). Don’t forget culture.
- A clear and thoughtful (means: deep, complete, everything) evaluation of the most relevant communication channels (inc. traditional and non traditional, formal and informal), followed by reflective comments as to the advantages and disadvantages of each.
- Discuss how you will measure the impact of your communications plan.
- A clear and thoughtful (means: deep, complete, everything) evaluation metric has been developed and identified for each element of the communication plan. Each metric has been discussed in a fulsome manner.
In most reports it is usual to find a description of the stakeholders. You might include a more detailed analysis of the stakeholders through the use of the Power/Interest matrix and Engagement/Understanding chart
In this section you start to put together your findings. This is often the longest part of the report and will contain a lot of detail. It is the detail behind the research you undertook.
Sometimes the recommendation is included with the findings/results and sometimes it is a separate section. If your intention is to move beyond recommendations and to include a plan of action within your report, then the recommendations are likely to be a separate section.
Plan of Action/Campaigns Plan
It could be that your remit went only as far as carrying out an audit and creating a report back with your findings; in which case you would not expect to include a plan of action.
However if, as part of your brief, you were asked or expected to put a comprehensive plan in place as a result of your findings then this is where you would add that plan.
In a lot of cases the plan may appear in the form of a table. Certainly it is likely to be a detailed part of the document.
Your plan should contain the following elements:
- Individual projects or campaigns within the whole framework
- Timelines/deadlines/time frames
- Resources required for each campaign, including budget, human and technological resources
- Key audiences and you might indicate the nature of the information you would expect to give each key audience
- Messages to be developed
- Communications channels
- Success criteria and evaluation techniques to determine the measure of success
Every report should have a conclusion. This should include a summary of the key points in the report and, where necessary, a call for action. It should be mirroring your introduction.
Say what you did; say what it means; say what it could mean for the future
Please note that, if you want to get high marks, you must have an argument throughout the report. Additionally, a clear, and thoughtful overview of the relevant stakeholder groups are considered within the communication plan. This would include extensive coverage of internal and external stakeholders as well as across cultures. Your report will be assessed on your ability to identify and critically evaluate formal and informal communication channels in organisations using persuation.
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of article. Title of Journal, Volume, pp-pp. doi:xx.xxxxxxxxxx
Author, A. A. (Year). Title of article. Title of Journal, Volume, pp-pp. Retrieved from http://xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx