What Is Ad-hoc Reporting (And How Can It Help You)?

DashboardFox - Ad Hoc Report Building

Suppose you’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the world of business intelligence (BI). In that case, you’re probably getting familiar with many terms that get thrown around — big data, operational intelligence, structured reporting, and ad-hoc reporting, to name just a few.

It all sounds very cool and probably useful to your business — but do you understand what it all means? Let’s take a look at ad-hoc reporting, for example.

You’ve probably heard the term “ad-hoc” — as Latin phrases go, it’s a pretty common one. “Ad-hoc” essentially means “when needed” in its adverb form and “created for a particular purpose as necessary” in its adjective form.

So right there, you’ve probably got a general idea of what it means in the BI field — you’re generating reports when needed and for a particular purpose. Bam — done. OK — well, you can stop reading here, but you shouldn’t because it’s a little more nuanced than that.

How it Compares to Other Types of Reporting

Yes, ad-hoc reporting is essentially reporting on demand, but why would you need this, and what does it do that other types of reporting can’t? Well, technically, it does a little less than structured reports, and that’s the beauty of it. Ad-hoc reporting is also sometimes known as “one-time” reporting, which probably tells you a little more about it.

If you’re working with data in your company and have a BI platform or some other tool in place to manage that data, you’re likely running structured reports. These are reports created by BI experts – technical folks like the IT staff and database managers who work with data regularly, mining it, aggregating it, and creating daily, weekly, and monthly recurring reports.

There’s so much more than data can be used for, though, but IT staff are so often overburdened and responsible for more than reporting. This is why self-service business intelligence (SSBI) is important. Typical reports are built using SQL and require an understanding of coding. Visual SQL is a user-friendly interface that requires no coding knowledge, allowing anyone to do ad-hoc querying and get the information they need.

With this in place, ad-hoc queries can be done by the end-user, the non-technical staff — basically anyone in the organization who needs to answer some questions.

Ad-hoc reporting doesn’t rely on nearly as much data — it’s typically answering a single query, so the report can come together quickly versus the hours or days it may take to pull a scheduled report.

It allows for flexibility, as codeless report building is ideal for non-technical users. They can get the information they need without putting an extra burden on the IT department.

How Can Ad-Hoc Reporting Help You?

It may be clear at this point that ad-hoc reporting is a good thing to have if your organization can benefit from access to quick, easy-to-visualize BI reports — and what organization can’t benefit from that?

Businesses today are highly data-driven and are seeking as much insight as possible from that data. But not all answers have to come from detailed, data-intensive reports. Sometimes you want a quick answer to a specific question.

Ad-hoc reporting is ideal for decision-making. A good BI platform will have a simple, easy-to-use user interface that makes it highly accessible for everyone. So, let’s say that a logistics team is struggling with delivery times that are far longer than they should be and needs to understand exactly where the bottlenecks are in its process.

Rather than asking the IT or analyst team for reports, the team can pull some simple visualizations of delivery times, routes, time spent loading and unloading, etc. By doing this, they can get an easy-to-understand visual of where the process is getting bogged down and use the data to manage the inefficiencies without getting the IT department involved.

What are the Challenges With Ad-Hoc Reporting?

As with any process, there are some challenges and obstacles regarding ad-hoc reporting. All reports are only as good as the data they use. So the data available to ad hoc queries should be the same available to all users and consistent throughout the organization.

This is data governance — the practice of ensuring high-quality, consistent data throughout the data’s lifecycle. If the organization doesn’t have a good data governance policy in place, ad-hoc reports may not be as accurate as they should be.

Silos of data throughout an organization also lead to less-than-complete visualizations. If data for a logistics report is missing a data set from finance, for example, the complete picture won’t be there, and the user could draw faulty conclusions.

A BI tool that reports errors has an easy-to-use interface that alerts users to problems, and creates clear, easy-to-understand ad-hoc reports is an invaluable tool for any organization.

How Can DashboardFox Help With Ad-Hoc Reporting?

A self-service, ad-hoc tool such as DashboardFox can be useful whatever your business is whatever your business is whatever your business is. DashboardFox is a BI software equipped with everything you need to have in ad-hoc reporting and so much more.

DashboardFox was designed specifically for non-techical business users to do ad-hoc reporting.

During the implementation of DashboardFox, the IT team can configure a semantic layer (we refer to it as an App) that translates the technical database schema into a user-understandable format that dynamically generates SQL code. End-users pick the fields they want to create dynamic, ad-hoc data sets and then have all the tools at their fingertips to convert data into KPIs, Maps, Charts, and interactive drill-down reports and dashboards.

After the IT team connects to the data, builds the semantic layer, and applies roles and security, DashboardFox is a user-driven tool. Perfect for ad-hoc use cases.

DashboardFox is self-hosted. This means that you will not have anything to worry about regarding your data privacy and security. DashboardFox gives you the power to grant access to people who need it for their data and bar others from accessing sensitive and confidential information that they should not see. Businesses do not have to worry about silos because its self-hosted setup does not permit anyone aside from the registered users to access data from any place.

DashboardFox is also the best choice in terms of pricing. We only charge you once, and that’s it. You only have to pay a one-lifetime fee which allows you to access everything DashboardFox has to offer for your business.

With DashboardFox, lifetime fee equals lifetime commitment guaranteed.

Lastly, we have a dedicated team to help you with your concerns while using DashboardFox. There is no need to file tickets and follow-ups when we can offer quick and hassle-free solutions, such as remote screen sharing sessions with our team of experts who can assist you most easily and effectively possible.

Purchasing DashboardFox means having an exclusive BI team at your beck and call.

We know you are already convinced, but let us take it a notch higher. Book a free demo session with us and see for yourself how DashboardFox can help you with your ad-hoc reporting and so much more.

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