Student success is all about relationships. Every interaction an institution has with a student can help or hinder their experience on campus, so it’s important that these interactions are helpful, uniform, and most importantly, tracked. When it comes to maintaining student relationships at scale, it all comes down to data. Colleges and universities are collecting more and more data each year, but more often than not, that data is not being put to use to best serve students. Using data starts with open and honest dialogue across campus, so that you can determine what you have, who can access it, and what you need moving forward. Wrangling that data can be a challenge, but there are a few key ways to create a data-driven culture on your campus this year. Here’s what you need to know.
Get Everyone on the Same Page
This can often sound like it’s easier said than done, but it will be worth it in the end. Every office on campus has access to data, and getting everyone together is critical to breaking down information silos. Enrollment management, IT, finance, these are just some of the many offices that hold important data related to the student experience. Setting up a data governance committee will ensure that all data is linked and complete, accessible to anyone who needs it, up to date, and completely accurate.
Good data should be three things: trustworthy, accessible, and relevant. Start by asking your team these questions:
- Trust: Is your data timely? Are there standard definitions? How has available data and metrics changed over time?
- Access: How will this data be presented? How much effort does it take to leverage your data? What licenses are required?
- Relevance: How is data helping me do my job better? How do I separate out the noise?
Once you have a general idea of where you stand, you can start to develop a vision, select a vendor/partner, build out your governance process, and begin the integration and data cleansing processes.
Make Sure Your Data Works Well Together
Make sure all of your data systems speak the same language directly and coherently to one another. For example, your CRM should connect virtually to any system or data source on campus — from SIS to ERP to common imports and file types. This helps to effectively manage and maintain data. We also recommend maintaining data integrity with dedicated tools for data validation and duplicate management.
Be Clear and Aligned on Data Needs
Within a strong data culture, data will help you make the best decisions to increase interest, yield, and graduation rates. It can also give you a roadmap for improvement. However, data only works if you understand what you’re asking of it. What information does your institution need most? To get accurate data and for the information to be truly useful, the same data needs to be pulled in the same way year after year, otherwise you’re comparing apples to oranges. Invest in thoughtful data questions on the front end and commit to ensuring the integrity of that data. This investment of time will pay off in the long run.
Create a Positive, Campus-wide Data Culture
A positive data culture can mean many different things, from building a team, to investing in the support structures needed to analyze and implement data well. It can also mean prioritizing data across all campus offices and departments, and showing through action that data is a powerful tool. Data consistency, and more importantly, consistent context, are key to building a positive data-driven culture across campus. Building this culture takes time and commitment, but will show campus-wide benefit in the end.
Ready to take your data to the next level? Find out more about TargetX Insights!