If your job includes visiting factories, offices, laboratories--or other nations, for that matter--you know how much importance rests on the data you bring back. Visit reports (also known as post-visit reports) rarely cover just facts and figures. Your perceptions and observations can heavily influence the outcome of potential mergers, financial negotiations and partnerships. Given the weighty nature of this type of report, you'll want to spend as much time gathering data as you do transcribing it--after all, your instincts could mean the difference between a future relationship and none at all.
Take copious notes during your site visit. Ask probing questions. Request reports, charts, graphs, research and other documentation you'll need to back up the data you're collecting and make certain you have permission from your host to attach that data to your post-visit report.
Start drafting your visit report as soon as possible--at the airport, on the plane or immediately upon returning, as details will remain fresh in your mind for only a day or so. Follow the template of your company's site visit form if one exists or create your own.
Begin your visit report with a section detailing basic information: the name of the site, address, contact person, arrival and departure dates, purpose and objectives of the visit and other structural information that sets the stage for anyone reading your report, whether they're familiar with your mission or not.
Write an introduction describing the institution you visited. Detail the company's product or service and make mention of all the people (and their titles) with whom you interacted while on site. Respect confidentialities by omitting sensitive data from your report. Use this section to lay the groundwork for your observations.
Explain what you learnt during your experience on site. Note reasons objectives may not have been met and offer opinions about why data you hoped to receive may not have been available to you. Wrap up the first draft of your visit report with conclusions you deem vital to describing how the visit went. Add recommendations for future action if this was part of your assignment.
Edit down your first draft to no more than five pages. Add titles, subtitles, bullet points and other organising elements to help readers navigate your visit report. Chop overly long sentences. Check facts against your notes. Double check spelling and punctuation. Set the type in an easy-to-read font--Times New Roman is ideal. Avoid type smaller than 12 points if readers are 50+.
Arrange the attachments accompanying your visit report in logical order, filed in accordance with the way the information is organised. Number the pages for continuity. Avoid unusual typefaces, colours and unnecessary graphics, as these have no place in a visit report. Verify your conclusions by double-checking the facts in your notes and be sure to meet the deadline you've been given for filing your site report as critical matters and decisions may hang on its timeliness.