What is ad hoc reporting?
Ad hoc reporting is a business intelligence practice of creating as-needed data queries and analyses without using a predefined report.
Instead, business users create their own reports and criteria to look at data not well-represented in static reports (sometimes called traditional reports or “canned reports.”)
This type of reporting allows users to generate custom reports quickly and easily. It can be used to analyze trends in any area of the business, including:
- Sales data
- Expense trends
- Customer feedback
- Marketing metrics
- Data-driven research
Ad hoc reporting enables users to explore new insights from their data sources, giving them greater visibility into their business operations and making informed decisions easier.
Finance teams will use an ad hoc report to share specific data points or findings with non-finance stakeholders.
Why do analysts need to build ad hoc reports?
Ad hoc reporting is helpful for analysts that need to answer questions or investigate issues that can't be addressed with an existing report.
It can also be used to build ad hoc reports for decision-makers, providing real-time insights into business data and performance.
Ad hoc reporting is also useful when you want to make decisions quickly, require data “on the fly,” and need specific data to guide your choices.
What to look for in ad hoc reporting tools
When evaluating an ad hoc reporting tool that includes ad hoc query capabilities, here are 5 key qualities to consider:
Ease of use
Our chosen reporting platform should offer a user-friendly interface.
Users should be able to select data sources, filter information, and build custom visuals without in-depth training or frustration.
It should simplify distributing data in different formats and export findings for further ad hoc analysis or presentation.
Ad hoc reporting requires strong customization capabilities that are easy to use and intuitive.
This allows users to tailor reports to their needs, create personalization in dashboard layout and presentation, and ensure data is clearly presented and branded appropriately.
When shortlisting options, consider the integration capabilities of the platform.
Select one with robust data source integration to improve accuracy, decrease data redundancy, and gain access to the most up-to-date numbers.
Secure data handling
A modern ad hoc reporting system will have secure and reliable cloud-based access to data, with multiple layers of encryption to protect sensitive information.
This ensures that information distributed to internal and external stakeholders is used appropriately and secure from unauthorized access.
Look for a system that offers quick and accurate performance for complex calculations on large datasets, with the ability to pull data in from multiple sources and automate part or all of the reporting process.
Top 10 ad hoc reporting software tools to consider
Looking for FP&A reporting software with strong customization for ad hoc reports? Consider one of the following 10 tools. Cube combines the best of all 10 in an Excel-native package your finance team will love.
Ready to try Cube? Get started with a free demo, or read on to learn more about every tool in the top 10.
Cube is the most intuitive and flexible FP&A platform on the market. It turns raw data and manual processes into streamlined, quick, accurate workflows.
Here's a quick overview of Cube:
- The first spreadsheet-native FP&A software that empowers teams to drive better planning and performance without changing how they work.
- Eliminates manual work and provides the real-time insights finance needs to strategize with speed and agility.
- Pairs the flexibility and familiarity of your spreadsheets with the control and power of enterprise software.
- Implements quickly. Cube gets you up and running in days, not months, which means faster time to value at a lower cost.
- Connects with any source system, browser, and sheet in moments, so you don't have to change your work.
- Access to an award-winning customer team with deep FP&A experience.
- Automated data consolidation: Connect data from numerous sources for automated rollups and drilldowns.
- Multi-scenario analysis: Allows you to seamlessly model how changes to key assumptions affect overall outputs.
- Endless integrations: Integrations for spreadsheets (Google and Excel), accounting & finance, HR, ATS, billing & operations, sales & marketing, and business intelligence.
- Customizable dashboards: Gives you the full ability to build and share customizable dashboards.
- Native Excel and Google Sheets integration: Compatible and bi-directional with any spreadsheet
- Multi-currency support: Evaluate your financials in both your local and reporting currencies.
- User-based controls: User controls, validations, and an audit trail ensure that the correct data goes to the right people at the right time.
- Centralized formulas and KPIs: Store all your calculations in a central location and manage from a single source of truth.
- Drilldown and audit trail: Get straight to the transactions and history behind a single data cell in just one click.
➡️ See all our features here.
- Powerful reporting and KPIs help automate and analyze important data.
- Streamline manual data, reduce errors, and improve collaboration so you can make smarter business decisions in a fraction of the time.
- You can easily collaborate with industry-leading FP&A experts and an award-winning support team.
- Integrations with dozens of applications.
- Keep real-time eyes on cash flow with easy-to-update actuals and the ability to drill down into cells.
- Cube works best for growth companies and mid-sized businesses—it’s not for mom & pop shops.
- Cube doesn't provide multilingual support right now
- Starting at $1,250/month for lean finance teams and $2,450/month for companies looking to scale. See detailed pricing.
Who it’s for
Cube is an FP&A platform for financial planning & analysis (FP&A) teams.
The buyer of Cube is typically the head of the FP&A team, with titles such as Head of FP&A/Head of Finance, VP of FP&A/VP of Finance, or Director of FP&A/Director of Finance.
The entire FP&A team, from VP to analyst, are users of the Cube platform.
SAP Analytics Cloud
SAP Analytics Cloud is a comprehensive, cloud-based business intelligence and data analytics platform that can integrate data from multiple sources.
It allows users to create interactive visualizations and models to understand their data quickly and make decisions.
- Extended financial and supply chain planning features
- Bi-directional integration with SAP Integrated Business Planning
- Workforce and Sales planning tools
- Standard data visualizations are a strong feature, with plenty of charts and dashboards.
- Unified financial reporting and BI analysis platform with some predictive analytics features.
- Strong native analytics tools for decision-making.
- You need sophisticated knowledge of SAP, making it difficult for the casual user.
- Live models may take a long time to load.
- No ability to format charts for Stories, making it difficult to customize ad hoc reports without another tool.
- Linking models to extracted data gets complicated and isn’t a reliable source of truth, requiring you to check against data in Excel.
SAP doesn't provide transparent pricing on its website.
The SAP suite of products is intended for enterprise-sized organizations.
Workday Adaptive Planning
Workday Adaptive Planning is a cloud-based modeling, forecasting, and analysis solution that enables companies to gain real-time across business dimensions.
It simplifies complex financial processes and provides actionable analytics to help firms reach their financial goals.
- AI-enhanced ERP features
- Integrated finance and HR solution
- Low-code frameworks
- Good for users of the Workday suite who need to integrate directly with the system.
- NetSuite integration makes it easy to share insights with higher-level decision-makers.
- Users report good processing speed and work efficiency even with larger calculations.
- Some users describe the training experience and materials as hard to navigate and insufficient for learning the system.
- Dashboarding functionality is limited, making ad hoc reporting more difficult.
- The Office Connect Excel add-in requires additional time to learn and understand.
- Formulas in Excel are not persistent as users change display views.
Workday doesn't provide transparent pricing on its website.
Workday is best suited for mid-market and enterprise users.
Anaplan is a cloud-based financial planning software that enables businesses to organize and unify data, build budgets and forecasts, and analyze performance.
With Anaplan's Connected Planning platform, users can quickly perform complex calculations across multiple scenarios to optimize their financial plans.
- Hyperblock™ in-memory calculation technology
- Connected Planning across business segments
- Strong standard BI reporting capabilities
- A large and flexible platform that meets the needs of most enterprise organizations.
- Anaplan offers the potential for larger teams to collaborate on planning activities.
- Strong admin-level transparency to see how users engage with modeling throughout the process.
- Ad hoc reporting capabilities aren't as strong as others, so those looking for customizations may be challenging.
- The modeling functions have size restrictions, which makes it difficult to create ad hoc reports with multiple dimensions.
- Anaplan isn’t well-liked by the majority of users. There’s a high, time-intensive learning curve.
- Data presentation is a challenge with customized reports. Users may have to download a different data version for each user instead of calculating on the fly.
Anaplan doesn't provide transparent pricing on its website.
Anaplan is best for enterprise-sized organizations.
Oracle Hyperion Planning
Oracle Hyperion Planning is a cloud-based budget and forecasting solution that helps companies plan, analyze and report their financials in real time.
It allows users to build multiple plans by leveraging existing models and data sets, easily drill down into the data for more detail, and reduce cycle times for planning and forecasting.
- Multidimensional and multi-user planning
- “Continuous Innovation” approach to development upgrades
- MS Office-based user interface
- Strong budget and forecast features, with efficient handling of complex calculations.
- Smart View add-on for Excel interface (though it’s not Excel-native)
- Formula creation across columns and rows for better data manipulation
- Non-technical users may have difficulty learning the system despite its familiar interface design.
- Poor customization of the interface reduces flexibility for users, including the creation of ad hoc reports.
- Data validation rules are described as “overwhelming” by some reviewers.
- Dashboarding is weak beyond basic reports. For more customization, an external tool is needed.
Oracle Hyperion doesn't provide transparent pricing on its website.
Hyperion’s price and capabilities align best with enterprise-sized businesses looking for planning as part of a full ERP solution.
Vena Solutions calls itself a "Complete Planning Platform" that helps companies perform analytics and drive growth within a familiar MS-based platform.
It supports multiple currencies, worksheets, and customizable dashboard views for better visibility and collaboration tools so teams can collaborate on individual projects or keep work flowing with automated workflows.
- Native integration with Microsoft 365.
- Financial consolidation and close features to make month-end close faster.
- Extended planning features for workforce, capital expense, and sales planning.
- Although not Excel-native, it offers an Excel-based interface.
- Easy-to-use customization makes ad hoc reporting easier
- Ability to consolidate multiple ledgers
- Some reviewers report slow loading, file open times, or computer slowdowns during use.
- Users would welcome improvements to the interface to make it more intuitive.
- Excel capabilities are lacking; for example, filtering and sorting may cause issues with dimensional mapping. This makes customization in reporting more difficult.
- The learning curve for non-technical users can be steep.
Vena doesn't provide transparent pricing on its website.
Vena primarily serves the mid-market sector and offers features for enterprise organizations.
Planful is a cloud-based FP&A tool that streamlines the end-to-end FP&A process.
Planful offers robust analytics capabilities, optimized workflows, and real-time insights to streamline your FP&A processes.
- Predict, an embedded AI and machine learning (ML) solution
- Continuous Planning features for finance, marketing, and more.
- What-if scenario modeling to align finance and ops
- The Structured Planning features are the most intuitive on the platform.
- Planful’s user interface has some customization features allowing users to define workflows by their individual business processes.
- Strong customer service team and learning resources to help users as they get onboarded.
- In-depth training is required to make the most of the platform, making it less accessible for the casual user.
- Formatting for reports lacks flexibility, resulting in the need for manual report formatting before you publish.
- High-traffic hours result in slow-downs of more complex reporting functions.
- Limited functionality in some instances, such as a limited number of book codes or fields.
Planful doesn't provide transparent pricing on its website.
Planful supports users of all sizes but focuses on the mid-market to enterprise range.
Jirav is FP&A software streamlining small-to-medium business budgeting, reporting, and dashboarding.
The company, in part, focuses on delivering growth solutions to the accounting industry and community resources through its Jirav Tower education resources.
- Built for accounting firms and finance teams
- Strong integrations with top-tier ERPs
- Automated investor reporting packages
- Integration with Google Sheets and Excel, though these features could use refinement.
- Lots of flexibility once a well-constructed setup is in place, with no restrictions or limitations.
- Easy to create and edit drivers.
- Google Sheets integration lacks efficiency when trying to use outside data sources.
- Unable to use multiple functions for a business driver without custom tables.
- Users want report formatting and design improvements for external investors or decision-makers.
- Some reports and functions only work via manual setup.
- Functionality is not as quick or sharp as working with Google Sheets or Excel natively.
Jirav doesn't provide transparent pricing on its website. The company offers a free trial.
Jirav was developed to meet the needs of small to mid-sized businesses
Mosaic Tech is a Strategic Finance Platform featuring tools for agile planning and real-time reporting.
It allows users to consolidate insights across systems with a unified, cross-functional platform that acts as a source of truth for the entire organization.
- Version control for fewer issues
- Fast modeling capabilities
- Modular model components
- Automated reporting functions make life easier once they are set up.
- Easy to use and implement with responsive customer service for issues.
- CRM integration allows you to visualize key performance indicators (KPIs).
- The learning curve is considerable, with hours of self-service learning to understand the system.
- Data export can be tricky, and there’s currently no function to export a model built in Mosaic into Excel.
- The modeling function does not include any change tracking, making it more difficult to report on differences.
- This is a younger product that is still adding functionality to its roadmap.
Mosaic doesn't provide transparent pricing on its website.
Mosaic works best for small and mid-market businesses.
Jedox is an advanced planning and analytics software that allows you to easily create, visualize, and share data-driven insights.
It offers many features like budgeting and forecasting, spreadsheet integrations, and a web-based interface.
- Real-time, on-demand planning features
- Various integrations, including an Excel add-on
- No-code solution with AI enhancement
- Strong data integration tool for scalability.
- Offers some unique planning features and customizations.
- User access and permissions features make ensuring the right amount of access easy.
- The system is prone to freezing and slowdowns.
- Users may encounter some graphical limitations when building more complex calculations.
- Cloud-only solution with no options for companies that prefer on-premise hosting.
- There is still the need to use native Excel for some calculations.
Jedox doesn't provide transparent pricing on its website.
Jedox is designed to work best for small and mid-market companies.
Conclusion: choose the right ad hoc reporting software
Now you know all about the ad hoc reporting software out there.
And if you haven't decided which is best for you, you should consider Cube.
Cube integrates with the tools you're already using (Excel, your ERP, etc) and makes it easy to report to the rest of the company or external stakeholders via Google Sheets.
Click the image below to request a free demo.