What is ad hoc reporting & analysis?

As your company’s need for accurate, timely, and accessible data increases, so will the one-off requests to your IT staff for reports and business intelligence. Ad hoc reporting and analysis tools help people across your enterprise efficiently access and work with data on a self-service basis.

What is ad hoc reporting?

Ad hoc reporting is a report created for a one-time-use. A BI tool can make it possible for anyone in an organization to answer a specific business question and present that data in a visual format, without burdening IT staff.

Ad hoc reporting differs from structured reporting in many ways. Structured reports use a large volume of data and are produced using a formalized reporting template. Ad hoc reports are generated as needed, in a visual format relevant to the audience.

Structured reports are produced by people who have a high degree of technical experience working with business intelligence tools to mine and aggregate large amounts of data. Ad hoc reporting relies on much smaller amounts of data. This makes it easier for people in an enterprise to report on a specific data point that answers a specific business question.

What is ad hoc analysis?

Ad hoc analysis allows a user to extract insights from a smaller extraction of data on an as-needed basis to answer a single business query. Ad hoc analysis is a quick solution to formulate insights as needed, eliminating the need to wait for a scheduled report.

Benefits of ad hoc analysis & reporting

Ad hoc analysis and reporting advance business decision making and reduce IT workload. People across your enterprise can gather and examine data to answer specific business questions as needed.

Increased agility for users

Ad hoc analysis allows people to answer questions on demand, speeding up business decision-making throughout your organization. People can quickly analyze specific data and present insights in a visual format to answer specific business questions.

Flexibility in reporting

Ad hoc reporting tools make it simple and easy for a user to navigate and choose relevant data to work with. Then users can quickly visualize their insights to produce a report for analysis and presentation.

Reducing analyst bottlenecks

IT teams and analysts are freed from the burden of one-off requests for data and reports when people are empowered to access corporate data and report their findings to answer a specific business question.

Examples of ad hoc analysis & reporting

Ad hoc analysis and reporting can optimize performance across an organization in multiple ways. Ad hoc reporting and analysis can, for example, provide insights that help sales and marketing better engage with prospects throughout the customer journey.

Other ad hoc reporting examples include helping business development teams discover a new or improve upon a revenue stream by analyzing the operational data necessary to spot trends.

Challenges of ad hoc reporting

While there are numerous benefits to ad hoc reporting, it’s not a magical cure-all. Data must be used responsibly and consistently for ad hoc reporting to work.

Incomplete data

Having some—but not all—of your data in one place is a limitation of ad hoc reporting. If you’re using siloed or extracted data, your reports could become stale and prevent you from seeing the full picture.

Lack of data governance

Data governance involves the people, processes, and technologies required to create consistent and proper handling of an organization's data across the business. Ad hoc reporting may depart from company developed metrics, logic, or available data which may create insights that conflict with other reports.

Data availability

Everyone needs to be using the same underlying data. If the underlying data varies throughout the same organization, it can produce data chaos resulting in conflicting answers and delayed decisions.

Why Is ad hoc analysis important?

Sometimes specific business questions need to be answered quickly. Ad hoc analysis is intended to reduce the time it takes to get to a decision point by providing insights more rapidly.

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