What Is Ad Hoc Reporting and How Can Business Enterprises Use Ad Hoc Reporting In Their Business Analysis?
Businesses are become increasingly reliant on Business Intelligence. Effective use of business intelligence enables businesses to gain an insight into current performance and analyze the information available to predict future trends. However, the value of business intelligence can be significantly reduced in the absence of regular reporting.
Information, on its own, is worthless unless it can be used to make decisions. Through effective reporting, business intelligence can be converted into actionable information. This is where ad hoc reporting comes in. There are numerous methods through which businesses can ensure regular reporting on business intelligence, but the core actionable insights can be lost amidst the jargon and technical language.
What is Ad Hoc Reporting?
Ad hoc reporting presents an alternative to conventional reporting methods, in the sense that these reports are prepared by non-technical personnel. Even though the business intelligence system or solution will be set up, implemented and even used by technical staff, the personnel working on ad hoc reports are the end users. They are the ones who understand what the information they have gathered represents and how to best analyze it.
The literal translation of ad hoc is ‘for the occasion’. Ad hoc reporting refers to reports which are generated in real-time and as and when required. There is no need for the non-technical users to involve the IT department or get a technical professional on board. This enables the end users to work independently and find their own answers to questions they have about the business intelligence being gathered.
There is no formal structure to ad hoc reports. They can be in the form of a single page or can comprise of numerous charts or other visual aids. The medium can be selected based on the message, which adds to the convenience of using this method of reporting. The rule of thumb is to present the information in a clear and easy to understand manner.
The Goal of Ad Hoc Reporting
The main purpose of ad hoc reporting is to empower the end users of company data. The reason why companies collect data from different sources is to gain insights into improving their operations and make decisions that will benefit the business in the future. Reporting is an important part of business intelligence and enables businesses to come up with strategies to improve their performance and overall workflow based on the data they collect.
However, with ad hoc reporting, the end users can get the information they are looking for which will enable them to serve different purposes. The IT department would otherwise have to focus on business intelligence and delivering reports to the end users. Ad hoc reporting will also benefit businesses which have a large sales team. Generally, the sales team would not be on the same page, because each member will not have access to the same information. Moreover, the departments working in conjunction with the sales team will also be able to look at the same numbers and data.
The sales team will have access to all the data they need to increase their quantum over periods. They can get reports which enable them to view the number of orders they received or the number of times they had to get in touch with a client before an order was finalized. This information can then be used to come up with strategies for future sales performance. As mentioned above, there isn’t a fixed format for ad hoc reporting, hence the end users can view the data in the format which makes perfect sense for them.
In addition to this, there is a great deal of cohesion between different departments, because they are all working from the same data. This removes the risk of communication errors and ensures everyone is on the same page. This enables businesses to streamline the entire operation. This also encourages collaboration and coordination, leading to improved productivity and performance. Eventually, ad hoc reporting will have a positive impact on the bottom line of the business. As businesses have a clear picture of overall performance, there are no major surprises from time to time.
Though the goal of ad hoc reporting remains the same, the model varies from business to business. The key is to select the right model that best serves the needs of your business and enables them to use ad hoc reporting to their advantage.
How Business Enterprises Can Leverage Ad-Hoc Reporting
Now that you have a clear idea of how your business can benefit from ad hoc reporting, it is important to understand how you can leverage it to meet your requirements. Here are some examples of how ad hoc reporting serves different business needs:
- Business environments continue to evolve over time. The method of reporting which worked previously might not serve the needs of your business currently. This is why ad hoc reporting is recommended as it is flexible. As businesses gather information from different sources, finding answers to questions can become difficult. For one, determining which questions need to be answered in the future can be difficult. However, ad hoc reporting can address your needs ideally.
- Businesses have to constantly invest in training their employees. This is particularly important when explaining the use of technologies which new employees might have not experienced before. With ad hoc reporting, businesses can reduce the cost and time required for training. The streamlined structure of ad hoc reports enables new inductees to start accessing important data and using the actionable insights to learn how to use it. Not only will they not take long to learn to use the application but businesses can start benefiting from their skills quicker.
- As mentioned above, the incorporation and integration of technologies into day to day operations means a greater reliance on the IT department. The IT professionals are expected to help users from other departments make sense of the data. With ad hoc reporting, the end users can start using the application without delay. The end users are the ones who will start generating reports after they have learned the ins and outs of the application, enabling them to function without relying on the IT report developers.
- A greater degree of independence for end users and easier integration ensures they are able to work in conjunction with other departments without hassle. This not only facilitates but also encourages the users to share the data they have generated with other users as well as collaborate with them to deliver better results. Through on-demand viewing, the reports generated by the users can be shared across the board, enhancing the usability of the ad hoc reporting infrastructure and at the same time, boosting overall productivity and efficiency.
To sum it up, businesses can enjoy a greater level of cohesion and collaboration across departments without overly relying on IT personnel to facilitate the process. The end users have access to the data they require and can generate as and when required, which is the core essence of ad hoc reporting. The key to making ad hoc reporting work is finding or developing an application which suits the needs of the business and at the same time, is easy to use. This will enable businesses to encourage end users to be more involved in the reporting process, leading to an overall better level of business intelligence.
Ad hoc reporting, though an effective means of business intelligence, is underrated as it doesn’t involve fancy tactics or techniques. It strips down the reporting process to its bare essentials: facilitating end users and providing them the necessary tools to use the data to create reports which they can use to fulfill their needs and drive the business towards success. It is up to the way a business uses and leverages ad hoc reporting that will determine if it can deliver the results the business is seeking, as it has all the features that a business needs to make the most of its business intelligence.