Different stakeholders demand different information in different formats and with different delivery requirements — a reality that can translate into a nightmare if you’ve been tasked with preparing reports to distribute the information.
So how can you keep up with increasing demands (and stay sane)? The key to saving your time and energy is determining which reports can be "canned," or automatically generated based on pre-set specifications.
Either way, you can maximize efficiency:
- For insights that can be canned, you can automate pre-built reports.
- For all other use cases, give business users the ability to perform quick and easy ad-hoc analysis.
So, how do you know which reporting requests are good candidates for canned reports? And which requests are better suited for spontaneous ad-hoc analysis? You can view the flow chart to get a quick answer! In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at each type of reporting and how to maximize efficiency.
What is a canned report?
The key difference between a canned report and ad-hoc report is reusability. For reports on data pertaining to a recurring set of specifications or corporate interests, you will want a prebuilt or “canned” report that you can easily create (and recreate) using your organization's BI tool.
Canned reports are typically distributed across a wide audience with polished formatting. These reports are short and sweet, batched and scripted data for weekly or monthly metrics. For example, a good candidate for a canned report would be a monthly reporting package produced for a CFO and finance managers that displays data on how the company is measured (e.g. balance sheet, P&L, operational metrics, cash flow).
How to produce canned reports
If you're producing reports for the finance department or any functional area that requires very highly formatted reporting, Oracle Hyperion Financial Reporting is a popular tool for creating, automating, and distributing book-quality management reports.
Compliant with all regulations and external requirements, these automated reports can be delivered immediately or scheduled for later distribution. The tool also enables you to generate multiple reports from single report structures.
Financial Reporting is included in Oracle’s EPM suite of products and BI suite of products, meaning you can access multidimensional performance management data sources and turn the enterprise data into insights.
If your needs go beyond financial reporting, you might consider a business intelligence tool, like OBIEE, BICS, or Data Visualization.
What is an ad-hoc report?
Ad-hoc reporting is a business analyst’s quick and off-the-cuff tool for drill-down analysis on the fly, usually contained to a small number of power users. These reports represent more of a snapshot in time. You'll get a look at the details of the data, comparing different variables to explain results made evident in canned reports.
For example: A canned report will show a company’s revenue and whether it is lower or higher than expected; an ad-hoc drill-down can be used by financial and business analysts to understand why this occurred.
How to produce ad-hoc reports
Oracle Smart View is specifically designed for business users who need to have a conversation with the data. This tool provides a common Microsoft Office interface for accessing and integrating data from Oracle's EPM and BI products. Users can start with templates to help begin the process or a blank sheet where they can begin building grids of data with drag-and-drop functionality.
These ad-hoc analysis capabilities are invaluable for business analysts who need to interactively investigate data contained in sources such as OBIEE, Oracle Essbase, Planning, and HFM.
Reducing time spent on reporting
Take one of our clients — a retail grocery chain with 66 stores — as an example. IT management was faced with a legacy BI system that was slow and fell short of providing the answers that business analysts needed to perform their highly specialized roles.
To support more agile and accurate business decisions, they needed the right tool — a modern reporting and analysis solution with high-volume, high-speed data handling capabilities. The company needed to:
- Deliver customized reports with less IT staff time and effort.
- Ensure data quality with fewer IT assets and resources.
- Make business data easier to visualize, understand, and report on.
By giving business analysts the ability to perform sophisticated ad-hoc analysis, the IT team reduced their number of customized reports from approximately 300 to 30. And the analysts could get back to what they do best — supporting the organization’s business goals. Find out how in the full case study.
Which do you need, canned or ad-hoc?
Get the Flow Chart to find out!