IT Connect

Information technology tools and resources at the UW

Archive for category: Tips & Tricks

EIIA team contributes to EDUCAUSE business intelligence guidance

The Enterprise Information, Integration & Analytics team helped develop content for the EDUCAUSE Review’s “Running a BI Shop” series of four how-to papers on creating business intelligence (BI) programs at higher education institutions. Anja Canfield-Budde, Interim Associate Vice President for Information Management, coauthored the articles along with a fellow BI expert at Purdue University. The articles compare BI planning efforts at Purdue University and the UW, revealing common themes: the value of framing the discussion, obtaining broad stakeholder input, and producing a simple, easily communicated strategy. Aimed at new and seasoned BI professionals, the articles are focused on the following:

  1. Strategic Planning
  2. Building the Organization
  3. Managing the Work
  4. Marketing Your Products

New higher ed IT resources available to UW community

A new subscription to the Education Advisory Board (EAB) IT Forum is offering higher education-specific information technology resources to UW students, faculty and staff. For no individual charge, users with a UW NetID can access the service for white papers, webinars, peer articles and other research resources, as well as for in-person consultation, in topic areas such as data governance, measures and metrics, analytics, and student success.

“EAB is an excellent resource, with a long history of specializing in IT for higher education,” said Anja Canfield-Budde, Director of Enterprise Data & Analytics (EDA). “With their deep expertise, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel to solve institutional IT challenges. I wholeheartedly recommend their resources.”

The EAB is made up of 650-plus researchers, consultants and technologists, serving over 1,000 colleges and universities across North America. Earlier this year, UW-IT data leaders provided input to EAB on the paper, A Common Currency: Achieving Excellence in Data Governance and Adoption of Analytics. Read the paper (PDF) on the UW-IT intranet.

“As we continue to grow our ‘data culture’ at the University, we can rely on EAB for expert advice and collaboration opportunities,” said Canfield-Budde.

Learn more:

Activate your user account:

  • Account setup uses your UW email address. Get started by going to the EAB website and choosing “Log in now,” then choose “I’m a new user.” Follow the prompts to complete your log-in setup. Once you receive an email from EAB, navigate to “Services,” then “Research & Insights” and then “IT Forum.”

Free Tableau and Excel Workshops From UW-IT

We have added several free UW-IT workshops! Our workshops teach UW staff and faculty how to visualize their data using Tableau software and do drag and drop analysis using Microsoft Excel PivotTables. Sessions last from one to three hours and no programming skills are required. Learn more and register online for upcoming sessions on the UW Data & Analytics website.

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!

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.

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!