Exception Report

Document performance deviation, develop controls, and improve your standard operating procedures with a mobile app.

Published March 8th, 2021

What is an Exception Report?

An exception report is an internal process used by businesses to formally document the reasons why employees or teams fail to meet work expectations, set targets, and/or deadlines. It is often produced by project managers and team leaders and typically includes a detailed explanation of the different factors that contributed to work deviation.

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When is an Exception Report Necessary?

Not all instances of work deviation immediately require an exception report. Minor deviations that do not significantly impact business operations can be dealt with through informal communication between team members and project managers. Exception reports are reserved for particular occurrences where work deviation results in considerable financial loss, project schedule disruptions, and breach of client-provider agreements.

Exception reporting depends on business cases, it acts as a kind of early warning system that alerts the management when the organization is at risk of having discrepancies with key performance targets. It can be provided on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis depending on the organization’s policies.

Key Elements of an Exception Report

Exception reports are needed to analyze and understand different scenarios of why deviation happened. It helps the organization to plan process improvement and create actions to be implemented immediately. Here are the key elements of an exception report.

  • timeline;
  • objective;
  • up-to-date accomplishments;
  • relevant factors and reasons for work deviation including the stage where it occurs;
  • impact of the problem;
  • evidence (photo or documentation); and
  • recommendations or requests in order to complete the project.

Exception Report: 5 Big Reasons Your Workplace Needs It

Exception reports are customizable, versatile, and highly adaptable. It provides value to just about any business type since it focuses on a general work concept instead of industry-specific elements and solutions.

Below are some important reasons you should start using exception reports for your business:

Develop a flexible work culture

Workers end up feeling stressed and demoralized if they feel that their supervisors and/or managers are too rigid; sticking with set work expectations even after unforeseen circumstances have already made them unrealistic and impossible to fulfill. By letting workers complete an exception report when it is warranted, you give them a fair chance to enumerate and explain the different factors that lead to the delay or failure of their assigned project.

Recognize flaws in your SOPs

By having an internal documentation process through exception reports, you can identify and analyze common factors and frequently cited reasons for work deviation; the first step to creating long-term solutions. Exception reports can help you recognize inefficient, faulty, and outdated SOPs so you can discontinue or update them to improve business processes.

Get useful insights from frontliners

Standard operating procedures and major process changes are decided mainly by upper management. Common mistake companies make, however, is the failure to involve frontline workers when creating or updating SOPs. Frontline workers have the most experience utilizing SOPs which gives them a good sense of what works and what doesn’t. Through exception reports, frontline workers can contribute to the improvement of SOPs instead of merely following them.

Improve overall accountability

For some operations, failing to meet work expectations and set deadlines immediately result in written warnings and/or disciplinary actions. By introducing exception reports, however, supervisors and managers create a dialogue with the worker which helps all of the parties involved get better insight into what really went wrong e.g. employee negligence, insufficient resources, etc. so the right solution can be introduced.

Create a database of past mistakes so preventive measures can be taken

Through the organized documentation of work deviation and internal process failures, key stakeholders can apply the appropriate control measures so the recurrence of identified issues can be avoided.

Digital Documentation for Work Deviation and Process Improvement

As important as it is for businesses to understand what works well for them, it is equally important to identify and acknowledge what doesn’t so inefficiencies can be addressed and operations can maximize their potential.

With iAuditor by SafetyCulture, supervisors and project managers can take advantage of a versatile mobile app to document and address the problems identified through exception reports. Aside from offline usability, iAuditor boasts the following features:

  • Download ready-to-use exception report templates and more through our public library.
  • Convert existing paper exception report templates into our digital format through the smart scan, or create a smart form from scratch through our simple, drag-and-drop template builder.
  • Automatically forward exception reports with key stakeholders through the app to save time, energy, and resources.
  • Take photos and annotate them in-app for a more comprehensive exception report
  • Save exception reports via unlimited cloud storage to ensure that data is secure and accessible only to authorized personnel.
  • iAuditor integration allows you to connect with other BI tools such as Outlook and Google Sheets so data is automatically transferred as you complete exception reports; making your overall process more efficient.

To get started, we have prepared ready-to-use exception report templates that can be downloaded for free. A PDF exception report sample and the web version are available for reference.


Juhlian Pimping

SafetyCulture Staff Writer

Juhlian Pimping has been writing about safety and quality topics for SafetyCulture since 2018. Before writing for SafetyCulture full-time, Juhlian worked in customer service and wrote for an Australian RTO.


Juhlian Pimping

SafetyCulture Staff Writer

Juhlian Pimping has been writing about safety and quality topics for SafetyCulture since 2018. Before writing for SafetyCulture full-time, Juhlian worked in customer service and wrote for an Australian RTO.