Ad Hoc

What is Ad Hoc?

Definition: Ad hoc is a Latin phrase that means to happening without planning or out of the regular course, for a special or unexpected reason. It is commonly applied to an action that needs to be done with the purpose of addressing an unforeseen specific situation.

An ad hoc activity or organization is done or formed only because a situation has made it necessary and is not planned in advance.

Ad hoc literally means “for this” in Latin, and in English this almost always means “for this specific purpose”. Issues that come up in the course of a project often require immediate, ad hoc solutions. An ad hoc investigating committee is authorized to look into a matter of limited scope. An ad hoc ruling by an athletic council is intended to settle a particular case, and is not meant to serve as a model for later rulings. If an organization deals with too many things on an ad hoc basis, it may mean someone hasn’t been doing enough planning.

What Does Ad Hoc Mean in Business?

The term comes from the Latin phrase “for this”. In business, something “ad hoc” means that was created at last minute to solve a particular situation that affects the operation. Ad hoc meetings, committees and organizational schemes are unplanned situations to deal with sudden, unusual problems or events. The term is sometimes used in a negative context, highlighting certain inability to foreseen relevant topics and to be properly prepared for them.

Nevertheless, it might be used in a positive sense when the intention is to remark creativity and promptness when dealing with unexpected issues. Certainly, ad hoc solutions are many times required because of complex, challenging environments faced by most industries.

Ad hoc approach is simply a business intelligence process that is designed to answer specific single business questions. The outcomes of ad hoc analysis is generally in the form of reports, data summary or a statistical model.

It is used by businesses to make a report on something that does not exist or digging deeper into static reports for getting details on accounts, transactions etc. It can also be used for getting more insights on current data for the sections which are covered by static reports.


Breston LLC is a small manufacturing company operating in a Latin American country. It markets a wide range of food products mainly targeted to children. A new Health Secretary is very concerned about children’s nutrition and decided to implement a surprising new regulation that prohibits a component that was present in three of Breston’s products. Profits were severely affected after the regulation took place since those three products represented 42% of total sales.

The company decided to create an ad hoc committee to address the unforeseen government decision like an emergency. Employees from product development, quality control, production, marketing and finance departments formed the committee. They had to evaluate and make decisions about substitute components, costs, prices, changes in packages and effects on flavors, textures and colors. They also had challenging deadlines because this temporary committee would only last six months. In this regard, the ad hoc committee was created to recommend how the company would recover from the adverse regulation. The goal was achieved and the committee successfully coordinated the actions to redesign and market the three products over the next six months.

Benefits of Using Ad Hoc Actions

Taking ad hoc actions offers two primary benefits. Assembling a temporary team to address a special circumstance or emergency that has arisen can enable an organization to respond more quickly, and therefore more efficiently, to a situation than if dealing with the situation were merely assigned as additional work for existing employees.

Dealing with things on a non-permanent basis may also be more cost-effective. For example, if a company hires a specialist on a temporary basis to address a specific problem and pays them as an independent consultant, it may be less expensive than taking on a new full-time employee who may not be needed past the point of solving the specific problem.

Risks of Taking Ad Hoc Actions

Handling issues on a short-term basis comes with risks, such as the focus on a specific issue may ignore other important factors that may impact the overall organization’s effectiveness. Temporary actions taken to address a specific problem may result in an unintended negative impact on other operational functions of an organization.

For example, an ad hoc committee formed to address an unexpected cash flow crisis may recommend terminating or laying off a considerable number of employees. While the move may solve the immediate problem, it may also end up creating larger problems for the company in the future as a result of losing valuable personnel and negatively affecting employee morale among the remaining staff.

Ad Hoc Reporting

Ad-hoc reporting is a model of business intelligence (BI) in which reports are built and distributed by nontechnical business intelligence users. In other words, with ad-hoc reporting, all the technical user does is set up the BI solution, connect it to the data-sources, establish security parameters and determine which objects end-users can see. From that point on, the actual reports are created by business end-users.

Ad-hoc is Latin for “as the occasion requires.” This means that with this BI model, users can use their reporting and analysis solution to answer their business questions “as the occasion requires,” without having to request queries from IT.

Ad-hoc reporting’s goal is to empower end-users to ask their own questions of company data, without burdening IT with the task of creating a myriad of reports to serve different functions and purposes. Ad-hoc reporting therefore makes the most sense when a large number of end-users need to see, understand, and act on data more or less independently, while still being on the same page as far as which set of numbers they look at.

For example, a company with a large outside-sales force would be the perfect fit for ad-hoc reporting. Each sales rep can set up his own report for his territory, showing performance against sales goals, orders taken, number of visits to each client, etc., in a format that makes the most sense to him. And just as importantly, the numbers used are pulled from the same data sources as the rest of the company, thereby promoting consistency and minimizing surprises at the end of the quarter.

A good-quality, Web-based ad-hoc reporting solution greatly enhances the benefits of the ad-hoc reporting model for the company adopting it.

Ad hoc reporting, also known as a one-time report, is created for a particular purpose or business necessity. It helps its users to answer critical business questions immediately by creating an autonomous report, without the need to wait for standard analysis.

Working alongside recurring or ongoing (daily, weekly, or monthly) data reports, ad hoc reporting forms a vital part of any business, brand, or organization’s growth and sustainability by offering a level of insight that adds an extra layer of substance and success to the data driven decision making process.

Ad Hoc Analysis

Ad hoc analysis is a business intelligence (BI) process designed to answer a single, specific business question. Users may create a report that does not already exist or drill deeper into a static report to get details about accounts, transactions or records.

Ad hoc is an adjective used to describe things that are created on the spot, usually for a single use. Many times, ad hoc analysis is done in response to an event, such as a sudden dip in production or loss of customers.

What Ad Hoc Analysis is Used For

Ad hoc analysis is performed by business users on an as-needed basis to address data analysis needs not met by the business’s static, regular reporting already conducted daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. The benefits of self-service BI conducted by ad hoc analysis tools include:

  • More current data: Ad hoc analysis may enable users to get up-to-the-minute insights into data not yet analyzed by a scheduled report.
  • Line-of-business decisions can be made faster: Allowing users — typically, managers or executives — access to data through a point-and-click interface eliminates the need to request data and analysis from another group within the company. This capacity enables quicker response times when a business question comes up, which, in turn, should help users respond to issues and make business decisions faster.
  • IT workload reduction: Since ad hoc reporting enables users to run their own queries, IT teams field fewer requests to create reports and can focus on other tasks.

Although most ad hoc reports and analyses are meant to be run only once, in practice, they often end up being reused and run on a regular basis. This can lead to unnecessary reporting processes that affect high-volume reporting periods. Reports should be reviewed periodically for efficiencies to determine whether they continue to serve a useful business purpose.

Ad Hoc Data Analytics In The Real World

There’s no doubt about it: adhoc data analysis offers a wealth of value to businesses across industries and sectors. To demonstrate the potential of ad-hoc analysis, let’s delve deeper into the practical applications of this invaluable data-driven initiative in the business world.

  • Sales: Ad hoc reporting and analysis can be used in a company with a large sales database. Let’s say a user wants to find out a specific sales outcome related to a particular scenario, s/he would build a single report, used only once, to provide that result. This scenario can be found in companies which have a large outside-sales force which then can export an ad hoc report showing results from his/her territory (number of clients visited, or leads generated) against overall sales goals.
  • Healthcare: Another ad hoc reporting example we can focus on is healthcare. A physician may not know how to build an HTML report or run a SQL query, but an ad hoc reporting tool can easily generate data that are needed quickly, and only once – a blood test report, for example. Ad-hoc analysis has served to revolutionize the healthcare sector. Utilizing a healthcare analytics software by providing greater data visibility and improving accuracy while helping senior stakeholders in such institutions make swift and accurate decisions that ultimately save lives, improves operational efficiencies, and decreases mortality rates.
  • Government: Governmental entities deal with a wealth of critical information, insights, and decisions that ultimately affect a lot of people. By gaining the ability to hone in on very specific tasks or challenges and reach the level of insight needed to make accurate, prosperous decisions while automating once manual data gathering tasks, governmental bodies across the globe enjoy improved public fund allocation while boosting productivity. A testament to the power of adhoc analysis.
  • Retail: Adhoc data analysis proves particularly effective in loss prevention in the retail sector. Through store-specific retail analytics report, tailored to particular areas of loss prevention, such as shoplifting or employee theft, a host of notable retailers have been able to track inventories and spot trends that have saved them a great deal of money in the long run.
  • Education: The educational sector is vital to the future of our society, and ad hoc data analysis has played a significant role by streamlining a host of processes through focused data and analytical reporting. It also facilitates the sharing of information between departments to help engage students on a deeper, more personal level. This level of initiative results in improved success for faculty, students, and in turn – the economy.
  • Finance: An additional ad hoc reporting example can be focused on finance. By its very nature, the financial industry (or the financial departments) is rife with facts, figures, financial KPIs, metrics, and data. Adhoc data analysis has offered businesses the means to drill down deep into very concentrated segments of data – or business aims – gaining the ability to spot trends that will provide the best return on investment (ROI).