There is an enormous amount of data and information that is on our institution and that is starting to now funnel through the IR office, and it can be incredibly difficult to stay ahead of that. Dr. W. Allen Richman, Senior Director for Research for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, walks us through this process and provides some tips on how to be successful in a webinar hosted by Apperson.

Build a Data Warehouse

  • Data from multiple sources brought together
  • Transformed
  • Aligned

We need a data warehouse in order to process information. This is where we can combine the information into useable pieces and we can deliver that out to individual offices.

Other possible data sources:

  • National Student Clearinghouse
  • Learning Management System
  • Assessment Management System
  • Advising
  • Services (library, gym, anywhere they scan their ID)

There’s all this data. How’s it going to get processed? Who’s going to do it? How will it be delivered? To survive, you need to prioritize, have a systematic approach, and be data driven.


Scan approved by the President/Cabinet

  1. IPEDS and any other Federal Reporting
  2. State and Accreditation Reporting
  3. Validation/Data Clean-up
  4. National Organizations and Institutional Grants in the following order
  5. President or Cabinet
  6. Committees in priority order
  7. Other approved requests. All requests require approval of a Vice President. We cannot be the one to decide which requests are legitimate and which are not. So, this ensures that the data requested is part of an Area need and not the “want” of an individual or single office.

Systematic Approach

Ticketing – You can do this in SurveyMonkey or Coultrix. You can use a survey as your ticketing system. Whenever a request comes in, have them complete a form. Include the project name, who will work on it, the project area, status, etc.

Project Management – Asana is a great free online tool to help you organize, assign, and update tasks.

Multi-year Calendar – Look at all the different regular data you are collecting.

Data Driven

Measure Performance. Make sure your tasks are completed on time, therefore your projects are on time. Consider posting this data publicly on a board. You can quickly see how everyone is performing, the percentage of tasks completed on tie, and the overalls for the week and the month. This way, you can give realistic timelines of when things can get done.

Working Smarter

Part of working smarter is recognizing that the IR office can’t be the sole conduit for information. When you have a data warehouse, you can use your data differently. We are now in a different landscape, where data can be electronically created and given at any time.

Institutional Research Requires a Systematic Approach to Data

The Current Landscape requires a new approach:

  • Prioritize
  • Systematic
  • Data driven
  • Working smarter

This content is from our third webinar with Dr. W. Allen Richman, Senior Director for Research for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The series is focused on improving your institutional effectiveness by using technology to work smarter.

The fourth and final part of this series will talk about retention. We will focus on the shift in higher education from merely counting students to tracking their progress over time and how colleges and universities can use data to help students stay in school and earn a degree.