How to Use Data Visualization for an Annual Report

Large filing systems used to be the order of the day for most companies. With time, computers have come to save the day by offering the almost perfect storage unit which has proved effective over time. Nonetheless, even with all these files and information being uploaded on companies’ servers, you’ll find only a fraction of the employees and staff being able to interpret it and actually understand it. This becomes worrisome especially in cases where such information is vital to the staff in that specific firm.

Simplifying Company Data

Data in a firm is meant for a huge pool of persons: this may be the shareholders, the employees of the company or even customers at large. If such data is complex and hard to grasp, it becomes quite meaningless to whomever it’s intended for. This is exactly why you need to consider how best to present your company data in a manner that’s not the least bit boring and drives the purpose home.

As you prepare your next annual report, you need to start considering how to up your data visualization game and come up with simplified reports. It’s one thing talking about data visualization in the form of charts, graphs and other infographics; nonetheless, it’s another thing altogether to find the required skills in creating such visuals. Before we take a look at how you can apply such skills on your next annual reports, there are some tips that will come in handy that should help smooth things.

Tips to Keep in Mind

Different forms of data can successfully be represented using data visualization, for instance, accounting data and marketing data. That’s why you’ll need the right skills to represent such varied information and make the tough concepts easy to understand. To better your analytics efforts, you first need to impart the training needed for your employees. At the end of the day, your team of employees should have enhanced data visualization skills that should enable them to bring out the most complex of data in a visual format.

Once this is done, you now need to understand the purpose intended to be accomplished with the data visualization. Since annual reports comprise of a lot of different compiled data, you need to identify exactly the ones that can be effectively represented in visual cues and the ones that don’t necessarily need to. Data visualization calls for wisdom in that you shouldn’t use fewer images and more data and also you shouldn’t use a lot of images which will confuse your audience.

Next, you should start thinking of the technology to be used in the data visualization for your annual reports. We are in the digital era, and there is a myriad of data visualization software tools that would assist you to prepare your annual reports. If possible, start by having an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) which seeks to eliminate unwanted data silos hereby creating a single information source. Once you’re done with that, you can now use features that automatically enable you to visualize data via dragging and dropping assets, graphs and charts. These features can then be offered as guide navigations that help answer questions.

Using Data Visualization for Annual Reports

Now we can dive right in and take a look at the different ways you can use data visualization in annual reports. Keep in mind you can always get professional help in coming up with the ideal infographics that best represents your data.

Data Visualization for HR

Your human resource department can come up with the learning management system (LMS) that seeks to understand, observe and even monitor the performance of each employee. This information comes in handy when it’s time to hire, promote or even during retrenchment. Another trend is observed where individual departmental managers are given the task to post jobs and hire candidates. Infographics here could show both the internal and external sources of hiring and their effectiveness. External sources of hiring could either be social media platforms such as LinkedIn, referrals, campus recruitment or even from a recruiting agency.

Data Visualization for Leadership & Control

Your investors and stakeholders will also need quality annual reports that should clearly depict the firm’s progress. They should be able to view the major developments, profits and even losses in a nutshell. These can be presented during the quarterly meetings then discussed upon to re-strategize and make better wins. How best to give them such data other than using data visualization?

Data Visualization for the Sales & Marketing Force

Here is another area where your data visualization capabilities should be on high display. Imagine you’ve been given the task to present a report indicating your organization’s website views which should correspond with the revenues to assess ROI. This can either be included in the annual reports or can be done on a monthly basis to closely monitor the platforms that yield the best rewards. Data visualization prowess will be especially helpful when constructing such graphs.

Data Visualization for Accounting Purposes

The accounting data that can be represented through data visualization is simply limitless. Consider coming up with annual expense reports for your organization. This can be represented using data visualization by coming up with a graph that compares spending across different categories, for instance, travel expenses, office supplies, purchases, etc. It goes without saying that this data can easily be noted down in books of accounts. That notwithstanding, depicting them in a visual format helps one and all easily note and understand the highs and lows of the company. Departmental heads could thus easily realize the areas taking up more spending and those which could be minimized to increase on savings and reduce expenditures.

Whether you’re going to prepare your quarterly or annual reports, it’s important that you don’t underestimate the power of data visualization. What they say about a picture speaking 1000 words is absolutely true – statistics actually show that 89% of your staff would rather focus on the visual data than long endless words and speeches. The opportunities are endless – grab them and let them work for you.