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Ad hoc financial analysis is a subset of self-service business intelligence systems known collectively as “ad hoc analysis.” The phrase ad hoc is used to identify this reporting as available on-demand by users at every level of technical expertise. In other words, financial analysis of your company is available to the people who need it, whenever they need it, without needing any expertise in how the software works. Once an ad hoc financial analysis system is in place, you can have a detailed report of any aspect of your company’s fiscal status at a moment’s notice.

The Difference Between Ad Hoc and Structured Reports

Some reports are “canned,” like sardines. You don’t have to go fishing every time you want to access them; you just open the file when you need it, and there it is. These types of reports are perfect for those evergreen business questions that rarely, if ever, change. There are certain aspects of your business’s finances that you will want to refer to over and over again, and a structured report is perfect for those situations.

Ad hoc analysis and reporting offer real-time glimpses into the data that matters most at that moment.

Ad hoc reporting tools can open up the field to as many criteria or data points as your team needs in order to draw the most accurate and informed conclusions. Ad hoc analysis and reporting offer real-time glimpses into the data that matters most at that moment. In a fast-paced global economy, your company’s BI dashboards and reports need to be as agile and flexible as possible. Ad hoc reporting makes this possibility a reality.

IT Shouldn’t Be the Sole Source of Accurate Reporting

There’s no doubt about it: without the IT department and their technical knowledge, none of this would be possible. But we also have to be aware of the demands on their time and workloads. Furnishing a bunch of new ad hoc reports for every single unpredictable need from a business analyst is more than they should have to do. Rather than restrict the breadth of information available to your non-technical professionals, ad hoc reporting allows more flexible reporting from non-IT personnel, who often have a better semantic understanding of the data. In other words, they know what the data is saying, not just how it’s put together. They also know what they need out of a report, and communicating all that to IT can lead to significant delays, lots of rounds of revisions, and more time creating data reports than using them.

After all, nobody can be expected to make an informed business decision if they spend all day trying to communicate their needs to an IT department that’s already busy enough with the technical work of making the data accessible. Business users need access to reliable ad hoc financial reporting in order to avoid turning IT into a reporting bottleneck.


Originally published with Analytics Insight.

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