IT Connect

Information technology tools and resources at the UW

Archive for month: December, 2014

Tableau and Capacity Planning – “What if” Analysis

Troy Hogan of the Enterprise Data and Analytics (EDA) team was kind enough to share one of the ways he and his team are getting value from Tableau doing “What If” analysis on how they spend their time.

The EDA Capacity Planning team gained great efficiencies in our quarterly work planning process by using Tableau reporting.

The team enters our team member’s resource estimates into an Excel pivot table. We used conditional formatting on the pivot table to highlight any resources that reached (or are near) capacity for a month.

This worked well, but using Tableau has allowed us to ask “what if” questions in quarterly planning to confirm our work commitments. By importing the data from the Excel pivot table into Tableau, we can now explore how committing to different “work areas” impacts our quarterly capacity.

To help show this, below is a Tableau dashboard that represents our “keep the lights on” work areas for the quarter. One can see that many of our team’s resources have extra capacity for this quarter (note that full capacity is 160 hours/month).

Keep the lights on dashboard

The next dashboard below, shows our work commitments for the quarter added to our “keep the lights on” commitments.

Keep the lights on plus additional work commitments

The team was able to select various “work areas” to talk through and see impacts of committing to different areas for the quarter.

From a meeting perspective, I had an hour meeting scheduled to confirm the quarterly commitments, with the expectation that we would have to schedule an additional meeting. I’m not sure if it was entirely because of the Tableau reporting, but we finished this meeting within 30 minutes!

Talk involving UW Profiles wins best presentation at conference

A talk about UW Profiles, the UW’s interactive dashboards for accessing and understanding basic UW data, was honored as “Best Presentation” at the Pacific Northwest Association for Institutional Research and Planning’s annual conference. The talk last month by Nevena Lalic of the Office of Planning & Management’s Institutional Analysis team and Bart Pietrzak of UW-IT’s Enterprise Data & Analytics was selected from among 30 presentations for its especially helpful ‘how to’ content on using Tableau with institutional data and working with the IT organization to structure that data. Pietrzak, a Business Intelligence Architect, and Lalic, a Senior Analyst, are collaborating on a proposal to adapt the presentation, “Exposing Basic Institutional Stats Using Interactive Tableau Dashboards,” for the Association’s national conference in May. UW Profiles was created jointly by UW-IT and the Office of Planning & Budgeting, now a unit within the newly named Planning & Management office.

PNAIRP logo

Automation Will Set You Free, Sort Of

If you have a repetitive task then automation is your friend. The catch is that when anything changes your automation likely breaks. Still if you are running a report that requires a lot of check box selecting you might enjoy this tip sent in by Stephen Rondeau.

Stephen is using iMacros to automate running the Class List By Curriculum Course Section report.

Class List By Curriculum Course Section

I use the class list to get a list of all people enrolled in our programs, since I don’t know of any other way to get it. I run it multiple times just before and during the first two weeks of each quarter.

I use an iMacros script to select the right values from the dropdown lists‎ and generate a report in CSV format. That report is saved in a folder that is being watched for changes; when the report is saved, a script is run to extract and reformat the information into a form I can use to create user accounts, get class lists per course, etc.

– Stephen Rondeau, UW Tacoma Institute of Technology

Stephen’s automation is probably more than most people can handle but recording and replaying a macro is easily within reach.

iMacros

iMacros is a Firefox addon that lets you record and replay repetitious work. The next time you find yourself running the same report over and over consider recording a macro.

Class List By Curriculum Course Section

Kimberly Swayze is in the top 10 users of the Class List By Curriculum Course Section report.
Here is what she has to say about it:

Class List By Curriculum Course Section

EDW reports are incredibly useful. In seconds, you can pull up student e-mail addresses if you are trying to contact students in one or more entire classes.

You can find out how many students are declared in your major or minor (along with their contact information and other helpful data), you can bring up specific groups of students (all international students, for example, or all freshmen, or all graduate students, or all students from underrepresented groups). You can create a list of all of your students who graduated in a particular quarter or year, or which of your undergraduates have applied to graduate.

These reports can easily be exported as excel spreadsheets (or PDF, word, etc.), and imported into an MS Access database for quick analysis or archiving.

– Kimberly Swayze
Academic Counselor, Undergraduate Advising

Summary

Thanks Kimberly for taking the time to tell us about how you find value in the Class List By Curriculum Course Section report. If anyone else has anything to add please leave us a comment.

What Business Intelligence Tech Do I Need?

There are a lot of options in the Business Intelligence (BI) world. It can be confusing trying to sort out which solution is right for which project.

One of the largest division lines is speed. Are you able to wait 30 seconds for your data to show up or no you need to immediately see your data rendered so you can move on to your next query?

Here is a light-hearted but handy flow chart reference detailing what SQL, reports, Tableau, and Cubes are good for.

BI Tech Infographic

Let me know what you think at help@uw.edu!

UW Profiles

Becka Poppe of OPB is finding great success with UW Profiles.

Here is what she has to say about it.

UW Profiles

I use UW Profiles on a regular basis for a variety of projects. It is particularly helpful when I receive requests from the state legislature for information or for fiscal notes (i.e. estimates of how proposed legislation would fiscally impact the UW) as these types of requests typically have very tight turnarounds and require highly specific and accurate data. UW Profiles allows me to retrieve whatever information I need, without having to go through a middleman, which makes a huge difference when time is scarce.

I also use UW Profiles when writing policy briefs, as I often want to cite facts to support my position or analysis of a proposed bill. For example, when writing briefs about affordability and access, I often mention the number of Pell-eligible students in the UW’s undergraduate population and cite relevant trends in underrepresented minority student enrollments.

Lastly, UW Profiles is one of my key data sources when I provide the President’s Office with updates on institutional goals.

The “Export” feature is fantastic as it allows me to download the data and make my own pivot tables. I also really appreciate the new “Switch to Tables” / “Switch to Visualization” feature that lets me toggle back and forth between the two data views.

All in all, I’ve found UW Profiles to be an incredibly valuable tool that helps me do my work more efficiently and effectively.

-Becka Johnson Poppe
Office of Planning & Budgeting

Notes

Her favorite dashboards are:

  • Key Facts – Academics:
    • Enrollment Summary
    • Degree Summary
  • Student Enrollment:
    • Diversity Profile & Trends
  • Student Academic Performance:
    • Undergraduate Retention and Graduation Rates
    • Undergraduate Graduation Patterns and Time to Degree

Summary

Thanks so much Becka for the detailed account of how you find value in the UW Profiles visualizations. If anyone else uses UW Profiles to great affect please tell us about it at help@uw.edu!

Why Are The Reports All Jumbled?

Lisa Nordlund wrote in because she was frustrated with the way the reports were being laid out in the Report Manager. She was used to the report manager rendering a nice neat grid and could quickly find her reports by location.

Here is what is going on and a better method of finding your favorite reports.

We recently upgraded to the latest version of SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), a Microsoft tool, and unfortunately the Report Manager doesn’t work as well with other browsers as it does with Internet Explorer.

So if that sloppy grid is intolerable there are two fixes.
1. Use Internet Explorer.
2. Use BI Portal.

Why is the BI Portal unaffected by Microsoft’s changes? Because the BI Portal is a custom web user interface that sits on top of Microsoft’s SSRS. It is a compatibility layer that lets us build in useful features that Microsoft left out like Favorites and Most recent reports.

Favorites and Most Recent Reports

Favorite and most recent reports

Did you know that if you use the BI Portal you can favorite reports and they will be listed on this page? Also you can find your most recently run reports on this page. The only caveat is that reports run today will show up on the list tomorrow.

Summary

Hopefully this little tip will help you more quickly access the reports you need. Please let us know at help@uw.edu if this was helpful or if you are already using the BI Portal and what features you like.

Class List By Curriculum Course Section

Marjorie Olmstead was nice enough to share with us how she uses the Class List By Curriculum Course Section report.

Class List By Curriculum Course Section

I have used the class list in two ways recently to help with understanding the undergraduate experience in our major (physics).

First, I looked at the students who took at least one quarter of calculus-based physics in academic year 2010-2011 and compared this list to current enrollment and graduation data (also available through the biportal to determine where these students ended up at the university. Of over 2000 students, about 100 ended up as physics majors, while the rest are distributed among 120 different majors. This informs instructors of the class about the varied needs and goals of our students.

As a second use of this data, I used class list demographic data to determine the demographic composition (gender and race/ethnicity) of our undergraduate majors classes, both in a snapshot of our current classes, and in a cohort study (looking at freshman classes 4 years ago, sophomore classes 3 years ago, etc.). The results highlighted that our majors courses have both a lower fraction of women and higher fraction of ethnic minorities from traditionally under-represented groups than the freshman course (serving those 2000 students), which the departmental diversity and climate committee is now working to understand and address.

Another quicker use of the lists on the personal rather than departmental level was to compare the enrollment of my current 400-level class with that of the recommended 300-level prerequisite in the past two years to get a sense of how many of my students have that background as I prepare my lectures.

-Marjorie Olmstead
Associate Chair for Undergraduate Affairs
Department of Physics

Summary

Thank you Marjorie. I am certain that other departments are doing similar analysis. If so please tell us about it at help@uw.edu. If you aren’t then maybe its time to give it a try.

Class List By Curriculum Course Section can be found on the BI Portal.

UW Profiles: Requested Enhancements Now Available

It is easier to understand trends in UW student enrollment, course-taking, academic progress and degrees with new enhancements to UW Profiles, the Web-based dashboards of University data. Now you can drill down to explore trends at the major, degree or curriculum level, and display information in tabular—as well as visual—format. Also, all dashboards now provide new filters and breakdown options. Faculty and staff can log into UW Profiles to learn how to access and use the tool.