Annual report season is nearly upon us – and that’s enough to inflict fear into the hearts of even the most organized of businesses. Brisbane based annual report design studio, TheRoom is here to share their top tips on preparing your content for your 2016 Annual Report design.
Make a central working document that stakeholders can all work on
One of the biggest hurdles when it comes to annual report design is collating the information you need to share with stakeholders in a central location. Often businesses work from word documents on a server – resulting in multiple versions, locked documents or confusing feedback. Skip the drama this year by working on a document that you can all work on at the same time.
TheRoom recommends creating a shared folder in Google Drive. You can create a single document to house your copy. Alternatively, you could create an individual document for each chapter will make it easier to approve the end document – section by section.
Speaking of approvals – you can also utilize the suggesting and be viewing modes of Google Doc to keep track of feedback. No need to compare three different print outs and collate it into one giant feedback document. Now that’s a relief.
Use Google Sheets or Excel for data
It might seem easy to create a table in Word for your data – but it significantly increases the time it takes for designers to build graphs and visualizations. Make the most of your design hours by storing all of your data in Excel or Google Sheets. Your annual report designers will thank you and the results will speak for themselves.
Just like Google Docs, Google Sheets makes it easy to update information from multiple sources. You can utilize comments, suggestions and proofing modes at a glance.
Break it down into manageable sections
Annual reports are always a mammoth task. Sometimes they feel overwhelming and it can be difficult to know where to start. The best projects are always managed in sections. Use a project management tool like Trello or Asana to keep your 2016 Annual Report on track.
If you’re using Trello and taking an agile approach to the project
You could create a board for your annual report, and lists for Pending Information, Copy in Progress, Pending Feedback, Pending Amendments, Copy and Data Approved, With Design, Pending Design Feedback, Pending Design Amends, Pending Sign Off, Completely Approved.
You’d then create cards for each section of the annual report, moving the cards between the lists as they progress through the workflow as shown below.
If you’re using Asana
You could create a team for the Annual Report so that everyone can keep on track. A Project Overview for the entire annual report with each section would allow you to show progress at a glance on the Dashboard. This overarching project allows the team to communicate in a central location (refer to tip #1) and is ideal for status meetings or for top level updates.
Next, up, create a project for each section with agile milestones as tasks that you mark complete as you go. Your annual report designer should have their own process for handling feedback and briefing – gain an understanding of theirs and incorporate it into your milestones. Take advantage of Asana’s incredible dashboard view and easily identify which sections of the annual report are on track or out of control.
Collaborate with your annual report designer early
The best results always come from collaboration. Contact your graphic design studio early and brief them on your 2016 annual report. Whilst you might not have finalized data, they’ll be able to gain an understanding of the style you’re looking for and the audience you need to target. Kicking the project off early will mean that your project has a head start!
Don’t be afraid to try something new
Just because it’s an annual report doesn’t mean it needs to be boring! Try a creative annual report in 2016. Shake things up this year by considering the design style, the tone of the copywriting or the print material you use. Stakeholders will appreciate the extra effort, team members will love reading something engaging and you’ll feel satisfied that you have tried a new approach. There’s nothing better than finishing a project and knowing that it’s LinkedIn worthy!