You’re a project manager or you manage a team or you work in sales department or you’re a lead test engineer. For your bosses you have to prepare some reports. Sometimes they suck. Reports, not bosses. You get a bunch of remarks pointing inconsistent data, out-of-date information, wrong numbers or omissions.
On the other hand sometimes your reports are just fine. They’re fine even though you’ve spent much less time preparing them. Why is it so? Why reports sometimes suck?
When you prepare a report for yourself it’ll be good. You don’t need inaccurate data or out-of-date information. You most likely work on the report on-line. Whenever input data has changed report is adjusted.
When you prepare a report for others only, chances are good it’ll suck. You have to make up all the numbers because you don’t have them at hand. You have to reconstruct all changes which have happened since last time you prepared the report. And there are more interesting tasks to do than digging through all that crap anyway.
As far as your report bases on information you work with everyday for yourself it should be good. When you don’t work on the data regularly watch out – your reports may suck.