This is part of our 5 Biggest Data Concerns Series. Catch up on part one!

Data Problem #3: Reluctance to Embrace a Data Culture

A recent national surveys of presidents, provosts, CFOs, and CIOs revealed that the many (and in some surveys, the majority) do not believe that their institutions do a good job of using data to inform campus planning and decision-making. In other words, the campus culture is not organized around timely, useful data that is aligned across campus.

Different offices often measure different things in different ways, making it hard for leadership to have confidence in the data findings. If everyone is on a different page, there can be no coherent strategy or approach to applying data to goals.

How to Fix It: Be Clear and Aligned on Data Questions

Data only works if you understand what you’re asking of it. What information does your institution need most? TargetX did a survey of enrollment managers, in which 47% of those surveyed said they want their data to easily and accurately compare current performance to past performance. Important data information! 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 only pay off in the long run.

Data Problem #4: Data Culture is Punitive

Just like bad data is worse than no data, sometimes a bad data culture is worse than no data culture at all. If your institution has weaponized its data as a means of “punishing” those who “didn’t pull their weight” or “failed to deliver,” your culture is counterproductive, and can often lead to data hoarding (limiting those who can see data).

Data should be used as a learning tool for improvement and course correction, or to recognize what’s working. Establishing a culture that prioritizes and understands the importance of quality, timely data is essential, and it can’t be done if everyone on campus fears it.

Data Problem #5: Data Expectations Are Too High

Good data is a reflection of what is happening on the ground with your prospects, admissions team, students, staff, and administrators. 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. What it cannot do is solve existing weaknesses on your campus. If you have uninspiring faculty, a lackluster campus experience, or a weak academic record, those vulnerabilities will shine through regardless, in the data and beyond.

How to Fix Them: Create a Positive, Campus-Wide Data Culture

As quoted from an article by Jonathan S. Gagliardi and Philip Wilkinson in Higher Education Today, “Campuses need to begin treating their data as importantly as their financial assets.” This means investing in the support structures needed to analyze and implement data well. It means prioritizing data across all campus offices and departments. It also means showing through action that data is a powerful tool, not a means to dole out punishment. Data consistency, and more importantly, consistent context, are key to building a positive data-driven culture across campus. With TargetX Insights, everyone can be confident they are working from a single source of truth, meaning data-driven decisions are better informed and leadership can trust the reports being pulled—every time—and can react with positive change and improvement when needed.

Ready to bring it all together? Find out more about how TargetX Insights can transform data on your campus!