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.

Example

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).

Ad-Hoc Collaboration

  • Planning a company event
  • Designing a new website concept
  • Managing a new product launch
  • Designing a new marketing campaign

Structured/Planned Collaboration

  • Managing factories
  • Managing products
  • Managing clients or cases
  • Managing prospects

Sometimes unexpected circumstances arise, such as global pandemic, changes in country’s tax laws, etc. and this prompt companies to put together an ad hoc committee to determine how best to respond to the change in circumstances. This means that the actions taken are designed only to address a specific situation and are not intended to be an ongoing part of an organization’s operations.

The other meaning usually used for ad hoc is “as needed”.

To illustrate, when a company decides to hire additional personnel on a non-permanent basis. Say the company takes on a new project. There is uncertainty as to the number of manpower needed to finish the project. The company’s management may assign a primary group of employees for the task with the note that additional personnel “will be added on an ad hoc basis.”

Ad hoc is also used technically when referring to “ad hoc network”. It means to a network of computers or other devices that communicate directly with each other, often bypassing a gatekeeping access point like a router.

Advantages of Ad Hoc Actions

There are two primary benefits of taking ad hoc actions:

  1. Timely and efficient dealing.

Gathering 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.

  1. Cost-effective.

Handling things on a non-permanent basis may also be more cost-effective. Say, a company hires an expert on a temporary basis to work on 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.

Disadvantages of Ad Hoc Actions

Dealing with 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. Momentary actions taken to address a specific problem may result in an unplanned negative effect 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 Analysis

Ad hoc analysis is referred to as a business report or data analysis created by users, as and when they need it.

In business intelligence (BI), it is a 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. It lets the user determine which data sources to pull from and how that data will be presented.

Business intelligence (BI) is a technology-driven process for analyzing data and presenting actionable information which helps executives, managers and other corporate end users make informed business decisions.

One key distinguishing factor of ad-hoc analysis is its ability to provide complete customized analytics.

Ad Hoc Analysis in Business

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.

This allow users to get latest insights into data not yet analyzed by a scheduled report.

  • Faster line-of-business decisions.

This enable 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 permits 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 Reporting

Ad-hoc reporting is a model of business intelligence (BI) in which reports are made and distributed by nontechnical business intelligence users.

In other words, with ad-hoc reporting, all the technical user does is to 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.

In addition, with this BI model, users can use their reporting and analysis solution to answer their business questions as the need arise, without having to request queries from IT.

Naturally, ad-hoc reports can be as simple as a one page data table or as complex and rich as interactive tabular or cross-tab reports with drill-down and visualization features–or present themselves in the form of dashboards, heat maps, or other more advanced forms.

This depends largely on the following:

  • Type of ad-hoc solution employed
  • End-user needs; and
  • User’s confidence with the solution

Ad-hoc reporting sits in contrast with managed reporting, wherein, it is the technical user–the report developer–who creates and distributes the report.

Objective of Ad Hoc Reporting

The main objective of Ad Hoc reporting is to empower end-users to ask their own questions of company data, without burdening IT with the task of creating a numerous report to serve a variety of functions and purposes.

Ad-hoc reporting thus 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.

Let’s say, a firm with a large outside-sales force would be the perfect fit for ad-hoc reporting.

Each sales representative 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 and a web-based ad-hoc reporting solution significantly improves the benefits of the ad-hoc reporting model for the company adopting it.

Benefits of Web-based Ad-hoc Reporting

There are benefits of a web-based ad-hoc reporting, such as;

  1. Timely and automatic delivery of critical information.

Self-service outputs with automatic scheduling/delivery of information let you facilitate timely decision making. Users get the information they need when they need it to answer critical, real-time questions. It is important to get critical information to the right people at the right time.

  1. Flexibility in a constantly changing environments.

Companies needs to evolve. Answers to varying business queries become more critical. It is impossible to anticipate what questions and answers users may need in the future.

  1. Training costs and time savings.

Streamlines users’ access to critical information. Easy-to-use wizards allow users to get up and running quickly, requiring less time to learn the application and providing clear guidance and saving time to build reports.

  1. Collaboration and information sharing.

Users can easily create, organize, publish and make reports available to other users via the Web for on-demand viewing.

  1. IT workload reduction.

The Web-based reporting application itself can be installed quickly for widespread availability to end-users. Once deployed, it empowers users to build the reports themselves anytime they need the information thus, no need for IT report developer’s assistance.

Characteristics of a Good Ad-hoc Reporting Solution

A good ad-hoc reporting solution should work towards the achievement of the company’s strategy.

It is important to identify what each end-user’s strategic function is within the organization, and ensure high optimization for an easier and more effective functions without having to compromise the benefits by being too expensive.

A good reporting solution should have the following characteristics:

  1. Being easy-to-use.

If it appears to be complicated, many end-users will be turned off and user adoption will suffer. For this reason, some of the better ad-hoc reporting solutions available today offer a basic set of intuitive features that are wizard-driven and will look easy even to the proverbial “non-computer person,” while also offering more advanced sets of tools for the user who feels confident.

  1. Being robust.

Given that adoption is not a problem, the ad-hoc solution should offer end-users what they need to see, understand and act upon their data. Far from being a more hi-tech version of Excel, it should offer interactive features like ad-hoc dashboards, drill-down and drill-through, advanced sorting and filtering, rich visualization tools like heat maps, charts and graphs, etc.

  1. Being Web-based.

For it to be truly valuable, a BI solution (including ad-hoc reporting) should run on the Internet. Apart from offering the familiar navigability with which we are all familiar, a Web-based solution is available from virtually anywhere and on any device sporting Internet connection.

Another advantage of a Web-based ad-hoc solution is that the system administrator won’t have to set it up individually on every user’s machine: installing it on the server is enough, and all the users need to access it is a simple URL.

  1. Being easy to set up.

In today’s time, a Web-based ad-hoc reporting solutions are data-source neutral, meaning that they can connect practically out of the box to most of today’s commonly-used data-sources, including databases, Web-services, flat files, etc. This saves the IT department the burden of creating complex metadata structures as the underlying layer, which is time-consuming, cumbersome and expensive.

  1. Having a server-based licensing with no per-user fees.

If the benefit of ad-hoc reporting is that of empowering end-users, it should not come with a “user-tax” in the form of per-seat licensing.

Ad-Hoc Analysis and Reporting Tools Considerations

Having several departments within an organization who need access to ad-hoc analysis and ad-hoc reporting, a BI solution that uses embedded analytics to help your teams easily view and digest big data from a variety of sources, is necessary.

This allow users to control how they visualize the needed data, and plugs right into its existing data sources (no matter how diverse or fragmented) so there’s no need to invest in any additional tools or hardware to get the necessary insights.

In addition, companies want to make sure that their BI solution ticks the box for granular data governance to easily set permissions and control access based on user level, dashboard or even down to a specific row.

And finally, businesses want to make sure that their BI solutions is really self-service oriented as it should be.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does ad hoc stand for in business?

Ad hoc reporting is a type of reporting that is specific to the needs of the user. The user can request whatever data they need, in any format, and get it immediately.

In other words, it refers to actions or requests that are done outside of the normal course of business or emergency situations.

How do you perform an ad hoc analysis?

An ad hoc analysis is a method of examining data in order to find new insights that are not accessible through standard reporting methods.

To perform an ad hoc analysis, you must first have access to data that is relevant to your inquiry. You can then use various methods, such as data visualization or statistical analysis, to explore the data and find trends or relationships.

What is an example of ad hoc?

One example of ad hoc is when a company needs to generate a report for a specific customer or client. The company would not be able to create this report using standard reporting methods, so they would have to perform an ad hoc analysis.

Another example is when a business needs to investigate a problem that has arisen outside of the normal course of operations. For instance, if there is a sudden increase in customer complaints, the business might conduct an ad hoc analysis to try and determine the cause.

What is ad hoc compensation?

Ad hoc compensation is a term used in human resources to describe payments or benefits that are given outside of the normal payroll.

The term can be used to refer to payments that are made in response to an emergency situation, or as a means of rewarding employees for exceptional work.

What is the difference between ad hoc and post hoc?

The main difference between ad hoc and post hoc is that ad hoc refers to actions or requests that are done outside of the normal course of business, while post hoc refers to actions or requests that are done after the normal course of business.

Ad hoc is also typically used to describe activities that are specific to the needs of the individual, while post hoc is used to describe activities that are more general in nature.

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