If we were to define “ad hoc” straight from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it would yield, “for the particular case at hand without consideration of wider application.”
The goal of an ad hoc analysis is to close in the gaps that may have been left by a business’ regular reporting.
In most cases, an ad hoc report analysis is done in order to fill a need and to go deeper into a regular business report to get the finer details about records, accounts or transactions.
Ad hoc analysis uses an OLAP dashboard
An OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) dashboard is also referred to as a business intelligence (BI) dashboard. It is a display containing two or more graphs and/ or reports on one computer screen. It is often used by decision makers to get a holistic view of their business in one concise format.
These OLAP dashboards are designed for the specific purpose of facilitating an ad hoc analysis by giving the analyst a quick and easy way to access data stemming from an original, static report.
The manager or executive is given an easy to use interface which only requires a simple point and click to access relevant data. He no longer needs to request data analysis from a different group within the company.
This capability allows a quicker response time for the business when critical business questions come up. It allows management to come up with decisions in less time, based on his data analysis using the OLAP dashboard.
Some of the challenges of Ad hoc reporting
Most ad hoc analyses and reports are designed to be performed only once. However, businesses usually end up using and re-running them on a constant basis. This is a common practice that usually leads to excess reporting processes that affect the quality and output of a reporting period. Because of this, ad hoc reports should be reviewed regularly to see if they continue to be functional to the business.
Ad hoc analysis answers a specific business question
An Ad hoc analysis is the practice of data analysis on a requested basis. This examination of data is based on a data set, which is available to the user. The results are only as good as the data on which it was based upon.
An ad hoc process is generally used to give an answer to a specified question about the business.
This data analysis process is also used in order to determine if a business should sell an asset or make an investment. The set of data used to come up with the analysis is dependent on the question that the ad hoc report is trying to answer .
Every time an ad hoc analysis is run to give an answer to a business question, the data and process used may vary.
A business example of using Ad hoc reporting
For example, a company is considering to buy a new piece of equipment. The business completes an ad hoc analysis to see if purchasing that new item would bring in an income in a set time period and based on that establishment’s contracts.
The user making an ad hoc analysis may run through an assortment of variables that are based on the data pertaining to the cost of buying the new office equipment, the maintenance costs and the savings that the new equipment will bring in.
The Ad hoc analysis results
The results of any ad hoc report may differ. Some users come up with charts or graphs to best represent the analysis results. Other analysts may opt to come up with a new form of data summary or report altogether. Since an ad hoc analysis is made to answer a specific business question, the form of the analysis results will be presented in a way that will best answer that question.