Friday, July 24, 2009

Perspectives on the Funding Crisis from the SCUP Conference (2)

So what analytics applications that might improve planning, sustainability, and lifting out of recession were on display at the meeting of the Society for College and University Planning? Two are worth mentioning.

Nuventive’s TracDat product is an assessment management tool that is sufficiently powerful/adaptable and properly architected so that it can be used to support assessment, accreditation, strategic planning, sustainability planning, and other specialized planning functions. Other assessment management products do an adequate job of portraying and managing assessment, but do not have the basic architecture to broadly fulfill the alignment function as achieved by TracDat.

TracDat enables users to align planning and execution efforts both vertically and horizontally. Vertical alignment means aligning strategies, goals, actions, measures, and responsibilities for actions at the institutional, college, department and program levels. Horizontal alignment means having the capacity to align regional and programmatic accredition efforts, sustainability plans, and capital plans with institutional strategy, goals, and actions. TracDat enables users to keep track of these alignments, manage responsibilities, actions, and corrective actions, all electronically.

Why is alignment so important to institutional efforts to establish financial sustainability? Experience has shown that it is profoundly challenging to stitch together the various elements of institutional strategy and to redirect existing initiatives as will be necessary to lift out of recession. TracDat dissolves the boundaries between planning “silos” and process “silos.” It enables measures and responsibilities to be assigned to the various aligned actions. These functions are discussed in A Guide to Planning for Change, published by the Society for College and University Planning.

In Portland, Nuventive premiered a demonstration of TracDat used to portray and manage an institution’s Sustainability Plan, fully aligned with institutional strategies.

Another part of the analytics puzzle is addressed by iStrategy Solutions – providing real-time action analytics for the masses. iStrategy is a prepackaged analytics application that combines: 1) data mapping to the data files of major ERP providers such as PeopleSoft/Oracle, Sungard, and Datatel; 2) Extract, Transfer and Load (ETL), 3) Data Warehous; 4) Online Analytic Processing (OLAP), 5) Business Intelligence (BI), and 6) presentation in a user friendly wrapper. iStrategy uses Microsoft tools to drive down the cost of extending analytics to a large set of end users. As a prepackaged solution, iStrategy can be deployed on campus quickly, presenting the institution’s own data in a few days, followed by a period of definitional refinement.

iStrategy addresses the analytical need to provide decision makers with the capacity to conduct dynamic analysis of data resources to support management retention and student success, productivity, personnel and talent management, and succession planning, all in real time. Using iStrategy, a student services worker can dynamically select the OLAP variables for an analysis, run the analysis, change the variables again to get just the right view, examine particular groups/cells of students in the analysis, then drill down to see the individuals in the group. This drill down can then stimulate an alert or intervention.

iStrategy is also easily extensible. Over time data from other “buckets” (so-called “shadow systems,” other third party administrative applications, academic information systems, assessment, external data) can be drawn into the data warehouse.

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