Driving Institutional Success Through Data Analytics

Using data to inform strategic decision-making

Practical data tools and analytics enable institutions to make more effective strategic decisions, gain clearer visibility into finances, gauge long-term sustainability, and use insight to drive institutional and student success.

In this web seminar, a leader from Baker College in Michigan discussed how her school is leveraging data analytics across finance and other departments. The presentation also outlined best practices for building an effective analytics strategy and featured real-world success stories about turning complex data into actionable insights.

Meghan Turjanica
Product Manager, Analytics

Analytics is taking data and transforming it in a way that will bring forth new action. It’s all about answering questions—to help institutions understand where they are, and then to improve institutional and student outcomes.

Some examples are: Which programs should we cut? Which should we expand? Which students will matriculate? Which will graduate? How is this year’s recruiting cycle comparing with last year’s? Where are we in terms of our goals? How many students do we need to enroll next year? What course sequences lead to success or attrition? What is the financial health of my institution?

The most important thing when it comes to analytics is moving from data to action. You start with raw data points. If they’re of sufficient quality and the right type, you can then transform them in a variety of ways, and you can get a lot of different analyses that help you take the right actions.

It’s about finding the right analysis for the problem that you have. There’s predictive analytics: What will happen? Then, there’s prescriptive analytics, which is a newer area that’s possible because of technology that allows you to take the right action and reduce the chance for error.

If you are considering doing something new with analytics, you are not alone: 66% of all higher education institution leaders envision expanding their analytics capabilities in the next 18 months, 72% of higher education C-suite executives intend to continue or expand their investment in analytics during the next budget period, and 21% intend to invest at least twice as much.

Kim Shaheen
Director of Enterprise
Application Services
Baker College (Mich.)

As we were preparing for data analytics, we had no institutional reporting strategy. We were using the wrong tools and the wrong data. We thought we had a data governance structure in place, but there were many problems with it. Our IT reporting team’s focus was torn into many different projects, and we kept repeating the same analytics and research every year. We were not following best practices.

We created an official institutional reporting office. One of its first actions was to do a report cleanup. We added a data dictionary so that the person running a report would understand what the data was. We are in the process of developing our analytics strategy. This is an ongoing endeavor, and we’ve been partnering with Jenzabar on it. We’re selecting the data warehouse platform and business intelligence tools to bring it all together. We’re designing analytical databases for the purpose of strategic dashboards instead of using our standard transactional databases.

We are moving our analytics to power BI and automating our database loads. This is part of getting rid of the wrong tools and the wrong data issues. Now, our analytics requests are aligned with best practices and designed for longevity. We have a formal request process and a team that meets quarterly. We are partnering with Jenzabar for the data cloud and analytics models.

Our challenges and future plans for data analytics are to continue focusing on performance analytics on a new platform. Initially, we are focusing on finance, retention and enrollment, and we’re going to continue partnering with Jenzabar for strategic analytics.

Our recommendations are to use the correct tools; break down goals into smaller, achievable projects; never stop expanding data governance; and use a data analytics partner.

Meghan Turjanica: Jenzabar Analytics is a portfolio of descriptive diagnostic and predictive analytics tools designed to make it easier for campus leaders to get the insight they need to improve data performance and to identify new avenues for success. It’s all about improving institutional and student outcomes. That’s what we’re absolutely passionate about, but we know that sometimes getting from raw data to answers is not always the easiest chain of events. That’s what we do through Jenzabar Analytics. We reveal what happened, why it happened, and how to make the right things happen.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit UBmag.me/ws110519