IT Forum Perspectives

Is decision support on campus actually supported by analytical capabilities?

by Kevin Danchisko

When we kicked off our 2015-2016 national meeting series earlier this month, we spoke with members about how to scale analytical capabilities in the distributed IT environment of higher education institutions. The presentation highlighted how to move decision support from an unfocused pull to a smart push environment through:

  • Enhancing user-friendliness of self-service resources to free capacity of central decision support staff to work on more strategic efforts
  • Promoting single versions of the truth to reduce analytical noise and limit analysis paralysis
  • Upskilling distributed analytics staff to relieve reporting burdens falling on central decision support while also getting more benefits from central efficiencies and distributed subject matter expertise

During our research on decision support, we came across a dissertation by Dr. Lisa Helmin Foss, the Associate Vice President and Associate Provost of the Office of Strategy, Planning & Effectiveness at Saint Cloud State University. As part of her dissertation, "Implementing Data Analytics as an Organizational Innovation in Colleges and Universities," Dr. Helmin Foss surveyed over 200 deans and department chairs across higher education to gather their perspectives on analytics.

Analytics tools fall short on supporting campus decision making

A few results from the survey immediately jumped out at us. Most strikingly, 48% of deans and department chairs disagreed or strongly disagreed that their institutions’ analytics tools significantly improved decision making at their institutions, compared to only 37% agreeing or strongly agreeing. Satisfaction was low for deans and department chairs across the board for topics related to analytics resources.

While conducting our research, we regularly heard members express uncertainty about how data-informed their campuses were. They struggle to identify who uses data for decision making, how satisfied campus members are with decision support resources, and the effectiveness of data-informed decisions. This made us think—what if we could create a similar instrument for our member CIOs and their teams to identify perceptions of decision support within their campus?

The goal of this instrument is to help members analyze the current state of decision support, develop an analytics road map, benchmark data-informed decision making maturity across campus, and communicate the importance and availability of analytical resources.

Next Steps for the EAB IT Forum Decision Support Needs Assessment
Getting from Vision to Reality

Want to be a pilot institution? Email Kevin Danchisko at kdanchisko@eab.com for further details. Then, access our one-pager for a preview of potential questions and uses for the Decision Support Needs Assessment. Download the resource.

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