Campuses are producing high-quality data, but much of this information is not being used.

Campuses are producing high-quality data, but much of this information is not being used.

I have worked with many different schools on reporting and institutional research projects. The common question I am asked from Information Technology (IT) and Institutional Research (IR) offices is, “What tool should we be using to pull data from our system?”

People continue to struggle to get the information they need out of their institution’s administrative systems. In their minds, the problem—and answer—always seems to be the technology.

I have seen schools that have been successful with a variety of reporting tools, ranging from Microsoft Excel to the most advanced business intelligence (BI) and statistical analysis tools. I have also seen many schools fail with the exact same tools.

My conclusion is that institutional reporting is not a technology problem. The key to success is communication, collaboration, knowledge of the data, and trust between all users—all of which are categories of best practices in data management.

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