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Snakepit or Shangri-La? Kathleen Moore, Jessica Foster, Nancy Speck, Carl Dickinson University of Rochester AIR Forum 2007 - Kansas City, MO Issues and.

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Presentation on theme: "Snakepit or Shangri-La? Kathleen Moore, Jessica Foster, Nancy Speck, Carl Dickinson University of Rochester AIR Forum 2007 - Kansas City, MO Issues and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Snakepit or Shangri-La? Kathleen Moore, Jessica Foster, Nancy Speck, Carl Dickinson University of Rochester AIR Forum Kansas City, MO Issues and Potential Pitfalls in Implementing a Student Data Warehouse

2 2 Presenters: Presenters: Kathleen Moore, Assistant Provost Kathleen Moore, Assistant Provost Jessica Foster, Assistant Provost for Institutional Research Jessica Foster, Assistant Provost for Institutional Research Co-authors: Co-authors: Nancy Speck, Assistant Dean for Institutional Research and Registrar Nancy Speck, Assistant Dean for Institutional Research and Registrar Carl Dickinson, Associate Registrar Carl Dickinson, Associate Registrar

3 3 About the University of Rochester Doctoral Research-Extensive institution located in upstate NY Doctoral Research-Extensive institution located in upstate NY 6 schools: Arts, Sciences, & Engineering; Music; Business; Education; Medicine & Dentistry; and Nursing 6 schools: Arts, Sciences, & Engineering; Music; Business; Education; Medicine & Dentistry; and Nursing Fall 2006 Undergrads: 4904, Graduates: 3539, MD’s: 403 Fall 2006 Undergrads: 4904, Graduates: 3539, MD’s: 403 Decentralized philosophy Decentralized philosophy Some centralized administration exists Some centralized administration exists

4 4 Why Was a Data Warehouse Needed? Current student data system (ISIS) – homegrown “legacy“ system, 20 yrs old, no plans to replace for 3-5 yrs Current student data system (ISIS) – homegrown “legacy“ system, 20 yrs old, no plans to replace for 3-5 yrs Process for retrieving data from the ISIS system: Process for retrieving data from the ISIS system: Natural programs are run by the Registrar’s office to create SAS extracts Natural programs are run by the Registrar’s office to create SAS extracts IR then writes mainframe SAS programs to retrieve data from extract files IR then writes mainframe SAS programs to retrieve data from extract files... FOR ANY REPORT!!!!... FOR ANY REPORT!!!! Time to get data for simple questions takes hours; more complex projects can take weeks Time to get data for simple questions takes hours; more complex projects can take weeks The idea of a data warehouse seemed like a dream come true! The idea of a data warehouse seemed like a dream come true!

5 5 Getting Buy-In and Finding Funding CIO and University Registrar were instrumental in getting the pilot underway CIO and University Registrar were instrumental in getting the pilot underway To implement the student DW project and other projects, a Director of Administrative Computing was hired To implement the student DW project and other projects, a Director of Administrative Computing was hired In initial stages, funding the development of the DW was a serious issue In initial stages, funding the development of the DW was a serious issue Central IT ultimately provided all funding for the pilot (over $200K to date) Central IT ultimately provided all funding for the pilot (over $200K to date) Funding for continued development is under discussion Funding for continued development is under discussion

6 6 Choosing a System Decision-drivers: Decision-drivers: Web-based user interface Web-based user interface Sufficient flexibility for a complex institution Sufficient flexibility for a complex institution Related systems already in use or planned Related systems already in use or planned Cost Cost Ease of use Ease of use Final choice: COGNOS 8 (with Oracle database) Final choice: COGNOS 8 (with Oracle database)

7 7 Convening the Right People Steering Committee consisted of a core group of IT staff, registrars, and IR staff Steering Committee consisted of a core group of IT staff, registrars, and IR staff Total of 10 to 12 members Total of 10 to 12 members

8 8 Arcane Architecture, Confusing Acronyms Developing the warehouse Developing the warehouse Different ways of thinking: IT vs. End-User Different ways of thinking: IT vs. End-User Limitations of current system posed problems with fitting some data into a DW hierarchy Limitations of current system posed problems with fitting some data into a DW hierarchy In the end, no real data hierarchy was adopted In the end, no real data hierarchy was adopted Nomenclature of warehouse elements was confusing Nomenclature of warehouse elements was confusing Variable names not always the same as in ISIS Variable names not always the same as in ISIS Organization of the warehouse into Models, Dimensions, Facts, and Attributes is very different Organization of the warehouse into Models, Dimensions, Facts, and Attributes is very different Many lengthy meetings! Many lengthy meetings! Have to be willing to invest time Have to be willing to invest time Meeting weekly at a set time made it possible to meet project deadlines Meeting weekly at a set time made it possible to meet project deadlines

9 9 Guerilla Databases Schools have created their own databases outside of ISIS Schools have created their own databases outside of ISIS Transferring information from these auxiliary databases to the warehouse is an on-going issue Transferring information from these auxiliary databases to the warehouse is an on-going issue Office of Special Programs Office of Special Programs Study Abroad Study Abroad CIP and NY State codes CIP and NY State codes Interest in the data warehouse is promoting use of one central reporting system Interest in the data warehouse is promoting use of one central reporting system

10 10 Testing, Testing… Testing environment confusing! Testing environment confusing! Different web addresses Different web addresses Changes in the COGNOS tool due to upgrades Changes in the COGNOS tool due to upgrades Moving reports from one environment to another Moving reports from one environment to another Finding time to test was a big issue (still is!) Finding time to test was a big issue (still is!) Core user group tried to do this on their own Core user group tried to do this on their own Weekly group testing meetings in a computer lab with IT staff available Weekly group testing meetings in a computer lab with IT staff available Commitment to making this a success was our motivator Commitment to making this a success was our motivator

11 11 … and More Testing Slow response time during group testing was frustrating (the dreaded “spinning box/hour glass”) Slow response time during group testing was frustrating (the dreaded “spinning box/hour glass”) Verification process was hampered because data was initially refreshed only once a week Verification process was hampered because data was initially refreshed only once a week Testing enlightened users and programmers to ISIS limitations, processing quirks, and the need to make changes to daily business practices Testing enlightened users and programmers to ISIS limitations, processing quirks, and the need to make changes to daily business practices Going through this process will eventually make it easier to transition to a new student system Going through this process will eventually make it easier to transition to a new student system Originally only tested data from 5 most recent terms to make sure everything worked – eventually loaded ~20 years worth of data Originally only tested data from 5 most recent terms to make sure everything worked – eventually loaded ~20 years worth of data

12 12 Data Cleanup Testing revealed a number of problems with how ISIS data was stored Testing revealed a number of problems with how ISIS data was stored Student addresses Student addresses Degree conferral and award dates Degree conferral and award dates Data entry cleanup – making sure data were initially entered and coded consistently in ISIS Data entry cleanup – making sure data were initially entered and coded consistently in ISIS Take Five students Take Five students McNair students McNair students

13 13 Changing Business Practices Data from multiple areas requires good communication and strong inter-departmental relationships Data from multiple areas requires good communication and strong inter-departmental relationships Ex., IPEDS ethnic Ex., IPEDS ethnic Still in progress – items not tracked in ISIS Still in progress – items not tracked in ISIS Remedial and developmental courses Remedial and developmental courses Students in combined degree programs (3/2, MD/PhD, etc.) Students in combined degree programs (3/2, MD/PhD, etc.) Each school defines a “registered student” differently and uses variables differently Each school defines a “registered student” differently and uses variables differently

14 14 Training and Support An on-going issue An on-going issue Initially IT consultants trained core group; IT & core group developed training documents for new users Initially IT consultants trained core group; IT & core group developed training documents for new users Currently more demand for training than we have time available to devote to it, which may be slowing adoption of the DW by new users Currently more demand for training than we have time available to devote to it, which may be slowing adoption of the DW by new users Two types of training might be appropriate: IT training on the tool and core group training on the data Two types of training might be appropriate: IT training on the tool and core group training on the data Identifying who will be responsible for training prior to implementation is crucial (this was a shortcoming in our project) Identifying who will be responsible for training prior to implementation is crucial (this was a shortcoming in our project)

15 15 Training We Currently Offer Two members of the core group offer brief presentations followed by a hands-on session ~ 3 times per year Two members of the core group offer brief presentations followed by a hands-on session ~ 3 times per year Monthly hands-on work sessions in computer lab where volunteers from core group help new users with queries Monthly hands-on work sessions in computer lab where volunteers from core group help new users with queries Created a listserv for core group and current users to post questions, concerns, etc. Created a listserv for core group and current users to post questions, concerns, etc. A “decision tree” of what model to use is given to all users A “decision tree” of what model to use is given to all users Models can consist of either unduplicated or duplicated records per student Models can consist of either unduplicated or duplicated records per student Users need to fully define the question being asked in order to pick the correct model Users need to fully define the question being asked in order to pick the correct model

16 16 Which model do I choose?

17 17 A New Way of Thinking New users initially experience a lot of frustration New users initially experience a lot of frustration Different naming conventions for DW fields from names they’re familiar with in ISIS Different naming conventions for DW fields from names they’re familiar with in ISIS The way data fields are grouped into models involves an entirely new way of thinking The way data fields are grouped into models involves an entirely new way of thinking DW users aren’t always ISIS users, so ISIS documentation is also available in the DW for structural reference and logic DW users aren’t always ISIS users, so ISIS documentation is also available in the DW for structural reference and logic New DW users need to break out of their “this is how we’ve always done it” mindset New DW users need to break out of their “this is how we’ve always done it” mindset

18 18 “Hey, this thing is cool – and it really works!” Ad hoc reporting is MUCH easier Ad hoc reporting is MUCH easier Makes longitudinal analysis much more manageable – can easily report across years without merging extract files Makes longitudinal analysis much more manageable – can easily report across years without merging extract files Cool projects completed using the DW: Cool projects completed using the DW: National Research Council study on PhD degree completion National Research Council study on PhD degree completion Tuition transfer study Tuition transfer study Credit hour analysis Credit hour analysis Classroom scheduling Classroom scheduling Music school instrument groupings Music school instrument groupings Currently looking into using DW to create our Fact Book Currently looking into using DW to create our Fact Book

19 19 Sample Reports

20 20

21 21 Reality vs. Wish List: Reality Initially our DW was a PILOT project – we now need to secure more funding, IT resources, etc. to continue development Initially our DW was a PILOT project – we now need to secure more funding, IT resources, etc. to continue development Finding some areas need a different structure, more data fields, historical data, or custom/calculated fields Finding some areas need a different structure, more data fields, historical data, or custom/calculated fields Our IT development team is now committed to other on- going projects in addition to the Student DW Our IT development team is now committed to other on- going projects in addition to the Student DW Considering hiring an administrator fully devoted to the DW to help with ongoing upgrades, enhancements, and training Considering hiring an administrator fully devoted to the DW to help with ongoing upgrades, enhancements, and training

22 22 Reality vs. Wish List: Wish List The core team has created a “wish list” prioritized by level of importance (currently has about 20 items): The core team has created a “wish list” prioritized by level of importance (currently has about 20 items): Things we wish we’d thought of earlier: Things we wish we’d thought of earlier: Ex., General Subject Area field (Humanities, Social Sciences, etc.) Ex., General Subject Area field (Humanities, Social Sciences, etc.) Who is a “registered student?” Who is a “registered student?” Things we want for the “second round” of the project: Things we want for the “second round” of the project: Ex., Financial aid dimension Ex., Financial aid dimension Things that just need to be changed or fixed: Things that just need to be changed or fixed: Ex., Grade value should be a fact and not an attribute Ex., Grade value should be a fact and not an attribute Usage of SSN – who can access this? Can it be included in DW but “hidden” from most users? Usage of SSN – who can access this? Can it be included in DW but “hidden” from most users?

23 23 Our “Wish List”

24 24 In Conclusion: Takeaway Points Things we think we did well: Selected the right core group Selected the right core group Chose a software platform that fits our university’s needs Chose a software platform that fits our university’s needs Core user group worked well with IT Core user group worked well with IT Hired an independent consultant who was familiar with DW structure and COGNOS tool to review our business practices Hired an independent consultant who was familiar with DW structure and COGNOS tool to review our business practices Where we missed the boat: One key person added too late to the project – missed perspective One key person added too late to the project – missed perspective More explicit communication between IT and core users – user group assumed IT fully understood our practices and needs at a very detailed level More explicit communication between IT and core users – user group assumed IT fully understood our practices and needs at a very detailed level IT needed to educate core users more on the role of models in the DW structure IT needed to educate core users more on the role of models in the DW structure Planning in advance for future restructuring of some models Planning in advance for future restructuring of some models Needed better planning for user training upfront Needed better planning for user training upfront

25 25 So… Snakepit or Shangri-La?

26 % of Rochester’s schools have now adopted the DW 85-90% of Rochester’s schools have now adopted the DW The more we demonstrate it, the more people get interested The more we demonstrate it, the more people get interested Has increased communication among offices which typically don’t work together Has increased communication among offices which typically don’t work together Forced us to review data policies and business practices Forced us to review data policies and business practices Has served as important preparation for adopting a new central student information system in a few years Has served as important preparation for adopting a new central student information system in a few years Conclusion? Conclusion?

27 27 It’s still a work in progress, but so far the benefits definitely outweigh the costs!

28 For more information, please contact Jessica at or Kathleen at PowerPoint presentation available at Thank you!


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