20 – Recommendation Reports

Recommendation Reports

David McMurrey; Suzan Last; Kalani Pattison; Matt McKinney; and Nicole Hagstrom-Schmidt

A recommendation report starts from a stated need. From there, it offers a selection of solution options, presents a detailed comparative analysis of the options, and then recommends one, some, or none. For example, a company might be looking at grammar-checking software and want a recommendation on which product is the best fit for them. As the report writer on this project, you could study the market for this type of application and recommend one particular product, two or three possible products (differing perhaps in their strengths and weaknesses), or none (maybe none of them are appropriate for the client’s specific needs). The recommendation report answers the question “Which option should we choose?” (or in some cases “Which are the best options?) by recommending Product B, or maybe both Products B and C, or none of the products. These recommendations might arise from questions such as

  • What should we do about Problem X?
  • What is the best way to provide Function or Service A?
  • Should we use Technology X or Technology Y to perform Function Z?

In this chapter you will learn how to compose a recommendation report. Specifically, you will learn about the expected content and format for a recommendation report and a related genre, the feasibility report. This chapter also includes a breakdown and discussion of typical sections of recommendation reports. Finally, the chapter concludes with advice on how to use criteria, decision matrices, and decision trees to objectively evaluate solutions, products, or services in recommendation and feasibility reports.

Typical Contents of Recommendation and Feasibility Reports

The major difference between recommendation and feasibility reports is whether you are researching and devising potential solutions to a problem or evaluating a variety of predetermined solutions for logistics, efficiency, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness. Both recommendation and feasibility reports end in a section that makes a recommendation for a decision or course of action. Whatever variety of feasibility or recommendation report you write, most of the sections and the organization of those sections are roughly the same.

In the research-based type of recommendation or feasibility reports, you provide not only your recommendation, choice, or judgment, but also the data, analysis, discussion, and conclusions leading to it. Your readers can use this information to check your findings, logic, and conclusions, thus ensuring that your methodology was sound and that they can agree with your recommendation. Your goal is to convince the reader to agree with you based upon your careful research, detailed analysis, rhetorical style, and documentation. Without sufficient understanding of your project design and methods, your audience may not trust your final conclusions and recommendations, or they may do at least some of the work over again before making a decision or implementing your recommendation.

The general problem-solving approach for a recommendation report entails the steps shown in Table 20.1 below. These elements may be in various sections of the report, depending on the report’s scope and structure.

Table 20.1. Typical recommendation report elements.

Element How to Address the Element
  1. Identify the need.
What is the situation that needs to be improved?
  1. Establish the criteria for responding to the need.
What is the overall goal?
What are the specific, measurable objectives any solution should achieve?
What constraints must any solution adhere to?
  1. Determine the solution options you will examine.
Define the scope of your approach to the problem.
Identify the possible courses of action that you will examine in your report. You might include the consequences of doing nothing.
  1. Study how well each option meets the criteria.
Systematically study each option, and compare how well they meet each of the objectives you have set.
Provide a systematic and quantifiable way to compare how well two solution options meet the objectives (often using criteria and a decision matrix/weighted objectives chart).
  1. Draw conclusions based on your analysis.
Based on the research presented in your discussion section, sum up your findings and give a comparative evaluation of how well each of the options meets the criteria and addresses the need.
  1. Formulate recommendations based on your conclusion.
Indicate which course of action the reader should take to address the problem, based on your analysis of the data presented in the report.

This text was derived from

Last, Suzan, with contributors Candice Neveu and Monika Smith. Technical Writing Essentials: Introduction to Professional Communications in Technical Fields. Victoria, BC: University of Victoria, 2019. https://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/technicalwriting/. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

McMurrey, David. Online Technical Writing. n.d. https://www.prismnet.com/~hcexres/textbook/. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

 

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Recommendation Reports by David McMurrey; Suzan Last; Kalani Pattison; Matt McKinney; and Nicole Hagstrom-Schmidt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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