QlikView improves productivity, data quality and decision making for EICC
CASE STUDY |
The Eastern Iowa Community College (EICC) district encompasses three colleges in Clinton, Muscatine and Scott counties in Iowa, as well as 10 satellite buildings. The network offers more than 60 career technology programs and 40 arts and sciences transfer concentrations to more than 13,200 credit students and 63,000 continuing education students.
EICC enrollment was trending downward, and financial aid rules changed to emphasize completion rather than enrollment. Increased student performance measures were required to continue receiving aid and in many cases, help students remain in school. With more requirements to justify funding and reduced financial resources, institutions seek solutions to increase insight into performance metrics and identify success factors to ensure a better probability of student completion.
“All public institutions are beyond the era of just tracking growth and expenditures,” said EICC Associate Director for Enrollment Management Erin Snyder. “We need to take our resources and utilize them effectively to make decisions based on targeted data rather than gut instinct.”
EICC’s existing student information system, Colleague, provided some reporting capabilities, but did not allow users to access and produce advanced analytics, leading to a reliance on institutional research for the data they needed. The district sought a solution to increase on-demand data to empower users and enable better, more informed decisions and more strategic alignment. The district also desired more accessibility to information to reduce the reliance on IT and integrate multiple data sources to provide users with a complete picture of data.
“In the past, we had access to data, but we did not necessarily have timely access to data, consistent data, or a complete picture of our data,” commented Snyder. “If you have to wait weeks for information, you often must move on or make decisions without the data. Having real-time, accurate information allows users to review it, analyze it and make informed decisions moving forward.
Based on a strong existing relationship and success in integrating data platforms at other higher education institutions, EICC chose RSM to implement the QlikView business intelligence solution. QlikView and RSM’s related services provided better insight into the student body and the overall performance of the programs the network offers.
“The ability to access data effectively and efficiently is more critical every day because we have budget and staffing limitations,” said Snyder. “We need to optimize our resources through data analysis to position us to have the most impact and effect on business operations and student success.”
Initially, RSM implemented greater section analysis capabilities, to manage and compare faculty loads, evaluate performance and provide insight into distribution and availability of course offerings. The best and most impactful way to maximize the overall profitability and savings for the institution is to better manage its classes and faculty. With the QlikView solution providing analytics across EICC’s three campuses, it is easier for the district to have a global look of class offerings and performance and maximize assets at each location.
The QlikView platform encourages more collaboration across campuses to provide better class offerings and more insight into both student and faculty performance. From a faculty perspective, QlikView increases visibility of course loads and identifies members who can take on more of a load than they currently have. For students, if there is a high degree of student withdrawal or inconsistency in grade distribution, EICC now has a global vision and comparison, rather than single reports for each class. Previously, EICC could not quickly and easily evaluate the true needs of the institutions; now they can plan based on actual numbers, rather than assumptions.
The new platform also solves a recurring student waiting list problem. EICC can now distribute their courses more effectively, with a quicker view into when they need to open another section. With the previous student information system, campuses tended to scramble at the registration deadline to match a faculty member with members of a waiting list in an available classroom.
Historical analysis and benchmarking
QlikView also provides a significant increase in historical analysis for EICC to identify key points in time from a reporting and continuity perspective. The institutions must freeze data at certain points during the year, including the first day of classes, at 14 days for state reporting requirements and at the end of the term and the fiscal year. QlikView shows trending from a historical perspective between those dates and previous years to measure additional metrics such as student continuity, probability of completion and success rate.
“Drilling into data differently and the possibilities within QlikView have helped us look at our students and categories in another way,” said Snyder. “Much of our reporting in the past was at the broad stroke mandatory reporting level, and this allows us to drill down and get different perspectives historically and do predictive modeling to understand the impact of potential decisions.”
To track and evaluate data, higher-education institutions typically develop cohorts, or groups of students, based on metrics such as demographics, choice of major or financial aid status. These students are grouped together, and their progress is measured over a period of time. In the past, institutional research created cohorts, generated queries and managed ongoing reporting requirements. The RSM team built a cohort designer through QlikView, giving EICC the flexibility to generate cohorts to measure and manage data more efficiently.
The RSM team implemented significant capabilities to track student success, with greater analysis and monitoring for registration, retention, enrollment and demographics. Remedial analysis is critical for EICC to ensure students stay on track and take the necessary courses. In the past, the district did not have a quick view of data, which meant going to the student level to track information on a specific student. QlikView analyzes all remedial students and their course load, breaking data down further to include demographics and courses taken to develop intervention strategies and help work toward completion.
With QlikView, not only can EICC view what is included in a query, it can see results that were not included in the analysis. This is beneficial because the institution can clearly view the attributes of those students who may not be taking the required courses and how to intervene and encourage success. EICC did not have this capability in the past, as the previous institutional research reports could not go down to the transaction level. EICC can now drill further into data and draw more informed and actionable conclusions.
Finally, the RSM team added features into the QlikView data to provide quick indicators to users as they analyze information. As the tool is introduced to more individuals within the district, a significant amount of information is available, along with cues to perform additional discovery into areas of importance. This feature is helpful to EICC, as it guides data analysis, identifies areas of concern and allows users to quickly arrive at a resolution.
“Having increased access to data has transformed our decision-making process, as we have become more data driven,” commented Snyder. “Once you give people access to data, they want more, creating a culture of accountability and providing evidence to support decisions.”
As a result of the QlikView business intelligence implementation, EICC’s end users have increased visibility into student, faculty and course data. Individuals are empowered to drill down into key metrics and make more informed decisions with accurate, actionable data. Information is power, and the QlikView platform effectively presents data to support decisions and gain buy-in from the staff, allowing the district to be more productive.
EICC also takes full advantage of QlikView’s on-demand data capabilities. Although it is early in the life cycle, users access the platform in meetings, performing analysis as they make decisions instead of waiting weeks for data from institutional research.
“The focus of many colleges and universities has shifted from strictly growing enrollment to being about student success and completion,” said Snyder. “It is not about just getting them in the door, it is about graduation. Having the data in front of us has allowed us to better manage our resources and really have an impact on student success.”
Other benefits of RSM’s service to EICC included:
- Increasing section analysis to maximize distribution and availability of course offerings, as well as faculty and staff performance
- Providing increased historical data for benchmarking and comparisons between several specific dates and previous years
- Developing a cohort designer to measure and track the progress of student groups
- Improving student success metrics, and encouraging more efficient intervention strategies
- Implementing additional indicators within QlikView to highlight areas of importance and guide data analysis
They said it
“Business intelligence is still somewhat new to education institutions, and having someone who can define that language for us and ask the right questions to shape our data and determine our needs is important. We had a framework, but RSM provided several guiding principles that helped us shape the project beyond our expectations.”
Erin Snyder, Associate Director for Enrollment Management, Eastern Iowa Community Colleges