Best practice annual reporting: a checklist to ensure you've got everything covered
The annual reporting process is an essential part of the business year for any limited company. Collating the data required, gathering a team to contribute to the content, and managing production of your report can be time-consuming, but it’s a non-negotiable requirement.
Making the process as seamless as possible saves time, ensures your annual report includes everything it should, and delivers a polished and professional end result. But knowing what to include in an annual report, who should be involved, and setting an annual report production timeline can all be a challenge.
To help, we’ve devised an annual reporting checklist, designed to walk you through the stages of creating and publishing your annual report. Follow our step-by-step guide and take the pain out of the annual reporting process.
Annual report checklist
1. Identify who needs to be involved.
Assembling your team is recognised as one of the steps to success in annual reporting. Which parts of your business need to be involved; the Board? Your marketing or comms team? Who will lead the project?
Where will your content come from? – you may need to draw on a wide range of people from different business teams. Who is responsible for reviewing content, and who has final editorial approval? Will you use an external design agency or manage design in-house?
2. Understand the purpose and objectives of your annual report
Who are you writing your report for? – identify your key stakeholders and readers. What are the main messages you want them to take away from the report; are there any actions you want them to take as a result of reading it? Pinpointing the answers to all of these will help you to set your tone and messaging.
3. Decide what form your report will take
Is your annual report going to be digital or online? The answer will have implications for your production timeline, budget and team. The style of your annual report can be shorthand for your brand – make sure the messages yours sends are in line with how you want to be seen.
4. Determine your report’s overarching theme and messaging
What will your report say about your organisation and its future strategy? What achievements should you draw out to support these? How will the report’s theme fit with your brand’s tone of voice, mission and stated aims? Who will be quoted and mentioned in your annual report? Do their voices reflect your organisation’s make-up and ethos?
5. Collate your content
Much of what goes into an annual report is prescribed, either by regulation or convention. Think about where you will get this content and data from. A typical annual report has a standard format including:
- CEO/Chairman’s and executive directors’ message
- Committee reports
- Key corporate achievements from the last 12 months
- Vision and future strategy
- Financial reporting
The requirements of annual reports aren’t static; regulations and expectations evolve continuously. Keeping ahead of changing requirements is one of the key steps in improving your annual reporting process
6. Create a schedule
As with content, some timings for annual reports are prescribed – check to see what the deadlines are for your reporting and work backwards from those to determine a production schedule. Consider the time needed for:
- Writing the report
- Getting sign-off from relevant business leaders
- Briefing your chosen design agency
- Reviewing the designed report
- Printing and publishing your report:
- Deciding on format – will it be printed or purely digital?
- Creating a mailing list
- Distributing your report, via email, hard copy. You may also choose to share it online via a secure stakeholder platform, or launch it with a video conference
- Promoting your report if desired; for example, using social media, to increase readership and ensure all your key stakeholders see a copy
Devise a best practice approach to annual reporting
Publishing your annual report is a major milestone in your organisation’s calendar – and can be stressful; there is much to remember. But if you want to create a report that ticks all the regulatory compliance boxes, as well as standing out for all the right reasons among your competitors, having a clear plan of action is essential.
Hopefully, this checklist will help you to structure your annual reporting process, ensuring nothing is left out. You can find out more about the ways Perivan’s team can help you with your annual reports – from expert design and print to highly secure information-sharing – on our website, or contact us to have a no-obligation chat about how we can help.
Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.