Retired Action Project 6

Measuring Effectiveness through an Integrated Data System

Describe this Action Project's goal in 100 words or fewer:

Our goal is to build a high quality data mining infrastructure. We will begin by assessing what data we are currently able to generate, determining why we collect that data, and review how it is used. We'll then determine if additional data should be collected. We'll also determine what tools are needed to make our data accessible and identify and train a number of "Power Users" to regularly access data and appropriately use it.

Describe briefly your institution's reasons for taking on this Action Project now -- why the project and its goals are high among your current priorities:

Difficulty in accessing data in Colleague is negatively impacting the efficiency of operations. Writing programs for all task requests is time-consuming and labor intensive. An integrated, accessible system of data generation/retrieval will allow for comparison with other similar institutions, providing dashboard indicators and benchmarking that will be routinely used in determining our effectiveness in a variety of areas of operation, both academic and non-academic.

List the organizational areas - -institutional departments, programs, divisions, or units -- most affected by or involved in this Action Project:

This Project will impact all areas of the College, both academic and operational. Areas most affected will be:

  • Information Technology (IT)
  • Management Information Systems (MIS)
  • Institutional Research (IR)
  • Academic Divisions
  • Distance Learning

All regular users of data stored in our Colleague system will realize enhanced capabilities of extracting and utilizing that data.

Name and describe briefly the key organizational process(es) that you expect this Action Project to change or improve:

Institutional research, departmental research, institutional technology, information systems, academic program reviews, and distance learning will be the most affected processes. Students and staff will realize the benefits of an integrated system in their access to Colleague through a single sign-on mechanism. Departmental and academic use of a report generator will allow for consistent, comparable data to be monitored and retrieved. Use of this data will identify areas of weakness and of strength.

Explain the rationale for the length of time planned for this Action Project (from kickoff to target completion):

Having researched a variety of options for our use in gathering and accessing data, the Technology Team provides the basis from which this Project begins. Once systems of generating reports and single sign-on are selected, implementation will likely take several months. Budget and staffing requirements will be determined. "Power Users" will be identified and trained to generate reports. The departments of MIS, IT, and Distance Learning will be integral in the process, and may realize some change in organizational structure. The Project will continue beyond purchase and installation of systems, to ensure availability and use by appropriate staff.

All institutional departments will likely be involved in the Project in some manner. At the outset, we will define what our needs are. We'll look at existing systems, identify shortcomings, and learn how to make the most of our Colleague system.

Describe how you plan to monitor how successfully your efforts on this Action Project are progressing:

A core team will lead this Project and monitor the progress. Representation on the core team will come from IT, IR, MIS, Distance Learning, Workforce Development, and Academics. Sub-teams will include a Technology Team, a Team to Identify and Assess Data Needs, and an Academic Needs Team. A member of each sub-team will sit on the core team. A timetable will be established and a method of communication will be determined to regularly inform the Executive Committee, the AQIP Planning Team, the Board of Trustees, and all faculty and staff of the progress throughout the Project.

Describe the overall "outcome" measures or indicators that will tell you whether this Action Project has been a success or failure in achieving its goals:

Ability to generate as many reports as possible from an integrated MIS system will lead to all units being able to find and utilize reports to suit their needs. Making much data readily accessible to Power Users will lead to their ability to retrieve and generate reports on their own. Easier access and generation of reports by Power Users will lead to improving operational efficiencies.

Project outcomes will be measured in the following ways:

  1. A satisfaction survey will be used at the start of the project to determine if our existing systems of measuring effectiveness are meeting the needs of the institution. A 30% increase in satisfaction, evidenced by a similar survey used at the completion of the project, is anticipated.

  2. There are currently four employees permitted to extract and manipulate data from our MIS. By the end of this project we expect that number to be at least ten.

  3. At the start and at the end of the project an inventory of existing software and hardware will be taken. An increase in both is anticipated.

Annual Update

Describe the past year's accomplishments and the current status of this Action Project.

  1. The Report Generator purchased in 2008 has been implemented. Key staff members (Power Users) have been trained on its use and have begun using the tool to generate their own reports. MIS staff members are using the new tool to develop custom reports in a significantly reduced amount of time, as compared to prior methods.

  2. Per the recommendation of the 2008 data security audit, we have purchased, installed, and configured a new firewall to protect our network. PCs are being re-configured to access the internet through this new firewall.

  3. The college has taken over the development of the Single Sign-on project from an outside vendor. Development was completed and we implemented the system in August 2009.

  4. The college selected and hired a Chief Information Officer (CIO), a new position, in December of 2008.

  5. The two programmers hired in 2008 have attended various training sessions and are participating actively in projects.

  6. The President’s Strategic Team (formerly known as the Executive Committee) has selected a set of metrics to include in the institutional dashboard. The Institutional Research Specialist is currently building the dashboard from the selected metrics.

  7. Microsoft Sharepoint has been implemented to serve as a communication and collaboration platform. Several departments have begun to use it as a repository for shared documents and information.

Describe how the institution involved people in work on this Action Project.

  1. The CIO meets regularly with all Technology Services departments, including MIS, IT, Distance Learning, and Institutional Research.

  2. The CIO is a member of the President’s Strategic Team and communicates about activities related to this and other technology projects at a weekly meeting.

  3. The MIS staff conducted training sessions for key users on how to use the report generator.

  4. Faculty, staff, and administrators have participated in evaluating the Single Sign-on project and have provided feedback to MIS for incorporation into the solution.

  5. The President’s Strategic Team and the Institutional Research Specialist continue to work together on developing an institutional dashboard.

Describe your planned next steps for this Action Project.

  1. The transition to the Single Sign-on solution was completed in August, 2009.

  2. Training sessions for faculty and staff on how to use the Single Sign-on solution were conducted prior to the implementation phase and are on-going.

  3. Once all PCs have been configured to utilize the new firewall, additional network security settings will be put into place, including password and network access policies. Information sessions will be held regarding the new security measures.

  4. Additional training will be provided to users of the report generator as they begin to use the tool, including additional techniques for report creation.

  5. We will continue to move departmental documents and information to Sharepoint and encourage its use through training and demonstrations.

  6. A survey of faculty and staff regarding their level of satisfaction with technology and data will be conducted and compared to the survey given at the beginning of the project.

Describe any "effective practice(s)" that resulted from your work on this Action Project.

  1. The use of Sharepoint as a central point of collaboration has improved availability of information to all employees. It allows users to find information and communicate easily with members of their and other departments. It also allows users to publish their own information without the intervention of a technical staff member.

  2. A service request system was put in place to provide a single point of contact for technology services staff. This allows all employees to ask for and provide feedback on specific requests and tasks.

  3. The use of a Single Sign-on solution to tie together disparate applications has reduced the complexity of our systems. This solution allows all users, including faculty, staff, and students, to access multiple resources from one location (email, Web Advisor, e-learning, Google applications). As we add new technical services, we will provide access to them via the Single Sign-on solution.

  4. Participation of faculty and staff in the development of the Single Sign-on solution provided valuable insight into how the solution will ultimately be used and possible alternate uses for the services provided. The additional services and usage scenarios generated positive responses from key stakeholders.

What challenges, if any, are you still facing in regards to this Action Project?

  1. The full implementation of the Single Sign-on project requires all faculty, staff, and students to go through a process of creating new user accounts. This will cause some level of frustration. We are planning on a higher volume of calls to the Help Desk during the first week of fall quarter 2009, and we have prepared documentation to assist the Help Desk staff with these calls.

  2. The final format of the dashboard is still under discussion. Determining a format that is relevant and meaningful to all stakeholders is challenging. We are looking at comparable institutions and business and industry examples for guidance, as well as, seeking feedback from key stakeholders.

  3. The budgetary challenges associated with implementing recommendations from the 2008 security audit still exist. We have prioritized and taken action on some of the recommendations, but have been unable to move forward with all of them. We will continue to prioritize security improvements and implement them as our budget allows.

  4. Some departments have moved documents and information to Sharepoint. The challenge is to get all departments using the new platform. To encourage this, we are providing demonstrations and training highlighting the advantages and ease of use of Sharepoint.

  5. Additional training is needed for our two software developers. We have prioritized our training needs and have allocated funds appropriately.



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