Information Technology

The Business Intelligence (BI) project – which aims to support a culture of data-driven decision-making on the University of Iowa campus—will soon be the second OneIT@Iowa project to cross the finish line.

The team presented a closeout document to the OneIT Steering Committee this week. Project team members included staff from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Tippie College of Business, Pharmacy, Engineering, Provost Office, Finance and Business Information Systems, and Information Technology Services.

Members of the BI community developed a portfolio of BI solutions that included advanced reporting, self-service, and dashboards for Admissions, General Ledger, and Student Records data domains. These solutions enhance reporting and analysis through data visualization to inform decision making. The Admissions dashboard, for example, is helping to forecast freshman enrollment for the class of 2016.

The project members noted the cross-organizational collaboration—including staff from Admissions, Division of Continuing Education, CLAS, and Finance and Operations—contributed to the successful release of these solutions.

Another major component of the BI project was conducting a campus-wide needs assessment to understand what data and tools are required to make key business decisions at the UI.

The needs assessment entailed interviews with 30 UI executives on financial, human resources, academic, and research administration information needs. Understanding what data is required for strategic, tactical, and operational decisions paves the way for BI tools to offer insight into institutional performance, along with timely and accurate data for quick response to opportunities and threats.

The team identified several themes in its needs assessment report, such as a greater demand for data and heavier focus on data-driven decision making. They noted the increasing complexity of information, and a need for aggregation, benchmarking, inclusion of external data, and simple visualizations.

A number of BI projects are already underway on campus. Along with continuing those efforts, the team recommended developing a BI strategic roadmap, sharing BI best practices across campus, and developing a method to track BI industry trends that could impact the institution. They advised leveraging the Institutional Data User Group (IDUG), forming a BI community for practitioners, and creating an institutional data governance team to provide oversight and direction for BI strategies.