The importance of data-driven decision making in higher education

The importance of data-driven decision making in higher education

As the higher education landscape becomes increasingly competitive, institutions are faced with more pressure to report and account for how their people, programs, and assets perform. This creates an environment of heightened accountability, where organizations are expected to answer questions across a range of processes, identify and anticipate trends, and work as one institution to change and grow.

By playing a key part in ensuring business continuity, the use of advanced data collection and analysis gives institutions the ability to become more profitable, perform better and streamline the way they operate.

Data – fueling a new era of fact-based decision making

While experience and instinct are pivotal, organizations that use data-driven decision-making to gain deeper insights into the needs of students, faculty and the institution will have a competitive edge. When done properly, a well-planned and implemented data-driven strategy can positively impact all areas of both institutional and student success.

Data-driven decision-making gives institutions the opportunity to identify new or missed opportunities, respond to new market conditions, launch innovative services and meet student needs. However, implementing a new database and analytics solution requires more than just flipping a switch and hoping for the best possible outcome.

This is because many institutions have problems with their data. Whether it’s out of date, spread out across numerous systems or difficult to navigate, if these issues aren’t addressed, the full potential of the software won’t ever be realized.

Gaining certainty by laying down the foundations

When institutions review their data and lay the groundwork before they implement software, they’ll have much more flexibility, along with clear continuity and certainty of the future.

The University of La Verne knew just how important it was to resolve any historical challenges if they wanted a solution that would future-proof their system. They wanted an analytics tool that would give them an informed view into the university’s operations, and transform those insights into student success. To do this, they established a solid data governance policy, addressed the integrity of their data on campus, and crafted a change management process to support implementation.

Dr. Todd Britton, chief information officer and associate vice president at the University of La Verne said, “We started to have those conversations around how to address the data integrity and data cleanliness issues that we had. We found that we needed to take a holistic approach to addressing our data governance practice.”

This approach has already seen some excellent results for La Verne, as they’re now able to bring valuable insights to the table so that stakeholders can make data informed decisions that can have real, positive impact for the institution.

Britton said, “It has helped us see what we need to do, where our data is flawed, where it should be adjusted, and what we need to do in terms of practice and policy updates. All of that has helped drive us forward.”

Improved collaboration and insight

When an institution adopts a data-driven culture, collaboration and communication becomes much easier. Many universities and colleges have their campuses spread out and operate in silos, causing a barrier for communication. It’s likely that the history department doesn’t talk to the science department and vice versa, but data can show that they may be facing similar battles.

Whether it's obtaining funding for research or keeping students engaged, when you bring disparate campuses and silos together, it makes it easier to identify and solve common challenges and grow together.

After adopting a higher education ERP (enterprise resource planning) system that helped faculty, staff and students use data in a more structured and organized way, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania were able to build a stronger workforce.

Before they’d integrated this platform, their office of career services was siloed on college campuses. This meant they were operating in isolation, rather than working with other academic and administrative departments in order to effectively approach career development. By implementing a platform that would enable communication and access to data, they were able to create a system that would bring students, departments and the career office together.

As a result, they had seen a dramatic uptick in student engagement, with an impressive 192 percent increase in student appointments. Monica Clem, director of the Office of Career Development at Edinboro said, “We are finding that our resources are getting significantly more attention than in the past, and this is in the first three months of launch. We are excited to see what the first year of data will look like given these early successes.”

Data – an invaluable asset

Data is a key asset for institutions, as it underpins strategy, supports business continuity and enhances overall performance. Whether you have ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management) or SIS (student information system), if your technology isn’t up to date, everything suffers, with a real impact on staff and students. It needs to be an integrated system that enables your whole institution to connect, adapt and grow.

With our higher education-focused solutions and flexible pathways to the cloud, you’re not simply getting what you need for the next few years – you’re future-proofing your systems, and enjoying the support of our full team, ready whenever you are, wherever you are, to update, upgrade and uplift your institution’s whole software suite.

So, whatever the future holds, you’ll have the data you need to make a lifetime of difference to your institution – and your students.

Meet the authors
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