Ad hoc reporting is a business intelligence (BI) model that enables the creation and distribution of reports by non-technical BI resources. If you are responsible for tracking metrics and KPIs for your organization but don’t have a background in coding or IT, you’re the perfect candidate to benefit from the ease and intelligence of ad hoc reporting and ad hoc analysis.
What are ad-hoc analysis and ad-hoc reporting?
“Ad hoc” is a Latin phrase, and means “when needed.” In other words, ad hoc reports aren’t ones that you’ll schedule and run every single day like clockwork. Sure, you can recreate ad hoc reports as often as you’d like, but they are really designed to find quick answers to business questions as they come up, and without the need to wait on IT to build a report for you. After the initial setup of connecting the BI solution to the data sources, the business users have all of the information they need to create and analyze their own reports.
Don’t assume that just because ad hoc reporting is easy, that the reports themselves are too basic to be of value. They can be as simple or complex as you want and need–from a single page of data to in-depth tools like heat maps, dashboards, and cross-tab reports.
The primary goal of ad hoc reporting is to help business users access the information they need when they need it. It helps streamline decision making, provides transparency to multiple user groups at once, and relieves IT teams of the burden of creating hundreds of reports for lots of different stakeholders.
If you know that you have to report on a specific data set or group of metrics every hour, day, week, etc. then you’ll most likely want to create a prebuilt or “canned” report. Unlike ad hoc reports that are flexible, self-service, and available as needed, canned reports may need the help of a technical resource to create or maintain. Canned reports are also usually pre-defined and limited to a certain set of variables.
Managed reporting depends on the help of a technical resource to design, distribute and maintain each report. This type of reporting consumes the bandwidth of a dedicated resource and is less able to flex fast when reports need to be changed to meet business needs.
Of the three reporting types, ad hoc reporting is the most agile and user-friendly, giving even non-technical users the information they need to make fast, data-based business decisions.
What are the business benefits of ad-hoc reporting?
Ad hoc reporting supports a self-service model that answers questions in near real-time. No matter the industry, businesses have to remain flexible to stay competitive. If you have to wait for IT intervention to get to the information you need, you might not get it in time to make a real impact on business outcomes. Ad hoc reporting takes the “wait” out of reporting.
Another benefit of ad hoc reporting that will certainly appeal to your finance team is the potential to save money on training cost and unproductive downtime. Because of its simplicity, business users of all technical skill levels can start creating reports immediately and using data to drive their actions.
Because ad hoc reporting alleviates the workload of your IT team, they will be free to focus on other, more strategic projects to support your business. And as a bonus, teams will be more likely to take ownership of data and share information across the organization when they realize how simple it is to create the reports they need.
When you’re ready to choose an ad hoc reporting solution, first survey your team about their specific data and reporting needs. It should be easy to use, accessible from anywhere they happen to be working, and able to display information in a variety of ways to suit many different audiences.