Everything you need to know about the annual activity report

Managing a business does not rhyme with approximation or impulsiveness. An informed manager will have the virtue of framing reality with a numerical summary, in order to tame the complexity of the organized action.

January 24, 2024

Managing a business does not rhyme with approximation or impulsiveness. Any manager worthy of the name must free himself from daydreams and speculations when making decisions. To help him in this endeavor, an informed manager will have the virtue of framing reality by a numerical summary, in order to tame the complexity of the organized action. The nickname for this summary? Annual Activity Report.

At the end of this article, you will be able to communicate effectively to shareholders and other stakeholders all relevant information about the past year, highlights, key company figures and future strategy.

On the program:

  • Definition of the annual activity report
  • Who is an annual activity report for?
  • What should I include in an annual activity report?
  • Explanation of the informational prioritization steps
  • Presentation of other types of activity reports (periodic, internal, analytical, etc.)

Shall we start?

What is a annual activity report ?

Annual activity reports play a crucial role in the functioning of any organization, whether it is Commercial, Governmental or at non-profit. They represent a tool for strategic communication which provides a detailed overview of the achievements of the past year.

These reports highlight not only the successes, but also the challenges encountered. They allow an organization to be transparent and honest with its stakeholders. The difficulties encountered and the obstacles overcome are presented, thus offering a realistic and balanced perspective on the past year.

In addition, the annual activity reports highlight opportunities for the coming year. They can help guide future plans, identify areas for improvement, and set new goals. They also help define the organization's vision for the future, showing how the organization plans to progress and develop.

Beyond their informative value, these reports are also a valuable opportunity to engage in dialogue with stakeholders. They allow for a discussion about the progress made, the goals to be achieved, and the aspirations of the organization. Ultimately, they serve to strengthen relationships, encourage engagement, and inspire trust in the organization.

It all comes down to one quote: “You simply can't manage anything you can't measure”, Richard Quinn, Vice President of Quality at Sears.

Capture d'écran d'un rapport annuel d'activité pour l'entreprise Trescal
Slide from the Trescal Annual Activity Report. (The content has been hidden for privacy reasons)

Who is the for annual activity report ?

An annual activity report is a showcase for the company and is aimed at any external person: shareholders, suppliers, public authorities, unions... Indeed, these reports are, most of the time, available on the internet in PDF format or in Word format. Sometimes, the company can also offer it in a web version, in a more interactive format that is more interactive and conducive to storytelling and data visualization. The care given to the user experience and the UI then makes it possible to guide the reader to the most important points and to highlight certain key figures even more.

The aim is to show the market and external players how the company has addressed its issues and challenges and how it will meet those of tomorrow. It is therefore an extremely important document for shareholders who want to know more about the health of the company they support, as well as for investors who are considering returning to capital.

Occasionally, we also find much shorter files, between 1 and 5 PDF pages, which highlight the annual “key facts”. These documents are more graphic, due to their brevity, and generally include tables and charts presenting key figures and information taken from the full report. These “key fact reports” focus their arguments on a specific theme, such as environmental or social considerations within the structure.

The structure of the annual activity report

An annual activity report can be quite long and must include several fundamental elements.

These inherent aspects relate to both the content and the presentation of the content.

Generally, reports are organized as follows:

  • Introductory messages : the directors or founders address a summary word to their teams and quickly conclude the past year.
  • Values : the essential values of the company are recalled in order to direct the arguments according to these essential points.
  • Strategy : the report should describe the strategy that was followed during the year, what resulted from it and what the strategy will be for the coming year.
  • CSR : it is time to make a connection with the values of the company and to apply them to social or environmental considerations. The company takes stock of parity, the fight against harassment and inequalities identified, the actions put in place for better ecological responsibility, etc.
  • Governance : it's time to talk about the key decisions that were taken and those that will be taken next. This is a more operational area than concerning the strategic point.

This range of subjects allows logical reasoning and an approach that can be understood by all the specialized subjects that the company must deal with. In this way, the course of the major themes is relatively exhaustive and can easily be adapted to any sector of activity.

Structuration logique de l'information dans un rapport d'activité
Example of presenting CSR values in an annual activity report

The information design of the annual activity report

Once the skeleton is defined, it is important to prioritize information and to unravel an obvious puzzle. The aim is not to lose your reader, but to share with them the essential information they may need.

That's where the Graphic design come into play.

The job of a graphic designer/designer is to know how to structure a page and to prioritize the information as best as possible so that the salient elements stand out more easily. The graphic designer must design the information and extract the essential points while taking care of the slide and the overall harmony of the slideshow, of the file Word Or of PDF.

An annual activity report can be long and boring, sometimes tedious to read for the public who studies it. Graphic art is then put in place and ensures that the final presentation is both aesthetic and informative. All the information must be transparent while giving, finally, a powerful and captivating PowerPoint presentation. For this, it is possible to use the Datavisualization, that is to say to use attractive and numerical forms to present information, such as tables, diagrams or graphs. They make it possible to lighten a slide without affecting overall understanding.

Many templates or templates are available on the internet, but if you do not have the time or the capacity to allocate to this activity, PowerPoint presentation agencies can help you create the perfect slideshow. If you don't know which agency to choose, don't worry, we've created a comparative just for you.

Slide chronologique du Rapport Annuel d'Activité Trescal
Timeline slide of the Trescal Annual Activity Report

What are the other types of business reports?

Businesses may choose to present these items annually, or quarterly to reduce the burden of work and information. We are therefore talking about either an annual activity report, or quarterly activity report.

These two reports have the particularity of presenting all aspects of a company's decision making, as comprehensively as possible. However, other reports allow you to focus on a particular area.

Periodic reports

Periodic reports are mostly intended for customers. They are often presented as project deliverables and help with decision making. All subjects are possible: sales reports, social media reports, etc., and they relate to a specific period of time.

Analytical data reports

Analytical data reports are used to share data and numerical information for decide on future commercial actions. It's the perfect time to release your most beautiful diagrams and forecast tables !

Internal reports

Internal reports are used to transmit information between team members and company departments. For example, a sales/marketing team may send the accounting team a marketing budget report to get approval for a specific project.

As its name suggests, the internal report is intended exclusively for members of a company and is not intended to be issued to stockholders or investors, as may be the case for annual activity reports.

Trend reports, also called trend reports

Finally, trend reports present the evolution of certain cases over a given timeframe. They are used to assess whether the investments were wise, if a strategic decision was successful or if the company needs to review its positions, in the event that the trends observed are not favorable.

Trend reports should be issued several times a year to avoid unpleasant surprises during the annual report.

Slide Récapitulative du Rapport Annuel D'activité Trescal
Trescal Annual Activity Report Summary Slide

Shall we go to the (annual) balance sheet?

You are now unbeatable on activity reports of any kind!

As you may have noticed, it is possible to create beautiful presentations while making them striking using certain iconographies or data visualization techniques. The important thing is to know how to handle the hierarchy of information so as not to lose your reader and Capturing attention of its audience. The arrangements are multiple and can respond to many strategic axes chosen by decision-making structures, but this information puzzle is not to be taken lightly. As a document for public purposes, it must be careful and use the company's graphic charter.

Thus, writing and presenting an annual activity report are essential tasks in a company. This tool not only makes it possible to take stock of the actions carried out during the year, but also to establish perspectives for the future. It is crucial to devote time and resources to the preparation of this important document, especially when it comes to the right prioritization of information, of striking design And of the clear data visualization.

You are ready, so happy fiscal year!

See you soon at the Kings of La Prez 👑

  • An annual activity report is a window for the company and is aimed at any external person: shareholders, suppliers, public authorities, unions.
  • Businesses may choose to present these items annually, or quarterly to reduce the burden of work and information.
  • Introductory Messages, Values, Strategy, CSR and Governance are the sections that structure an annual activity report.
  • It is crucial to devote time and resources to the preparation of this important document, especially when it comes to the right prioritization of information, powerful design, and clear data visualization.

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