Purdue Today

January 7, 2008

OnePurdue moves ahead on student systems; training begins for student reporting tool

The reporting component of the new OnePurdue student systems has received a lot of attention because the ability to receive accurate and timely information is so vital to the University and its work with students.

The Enrollment and Student Affairs (ESA) Reporting Work Group, composed of representatives from West Lafayette and Purdue North Central (PNC) administrative offices, has been collaborating with the OnePurdue reporting team to install, test and learn Cognos (version 8).

Cognos is the software licensed by Purdue that will be used to access data from the new OnePurdue (Banner) student systems.

SunGard Higher Education's Banner is the suite of applications that will compose the bulk of the new student systems. It is being implemented at the West Lafayette and PNC campuses. Fort Wayne (IPFW) and Calumet, which have been using Banner for several years, also are using (or will be using) Cognos as their reporting tool.

New opportunities
"Our goal is not to replicate all old reports, but rather provide authoritative, fresh student data for both operational purposes and strategic decision-making using a modern and user-friendly tool with prompts, drill-down capabilities and dashboards," said Pam Horne, assistant vice president for enrollment management and dean of admissions. (A dashboard is a graphic presentation of data and key metrics organized in an easy-to-read format.)

"Since Banner's Operational Data Store will be refreshed nightly, other shadow databases will not be needed," Horne said. "Core academic student data, such as recruitment, admissions, courses and academic records, all will be available."

Cognos will access data from the Operational Data Store (ODS) and Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW), Banner's two reporting databases.

"We're excited about implementing Banner and Cognos," Horne said. "The opportunities to build upon the new reporting functions are immense and will serve Purdue well into the future."

Training and support
About 15 staff members from West Lafayette and PNC will begin Cognos training this month. Because Banner's financial aid component will "go live" in February, most of these trainees will be from Purdue's Division of Financial Aid (DFA). Training for non-DFA staff, both at West Lafayette and PNC, will be next and will continue on a long-term, ongoing basis.

The initial Cognos training will be for "power users," those who are responsible for reporting as a central part of their jobs.

Over the next few weeks, Sarah Bauer, director of enrollment management analysis and reporting, will contact leaders in the colleges and other major units to determine which data analyst personnel will need Cognos training. Bauer also leads the OnePurdue ESA reporting team.

"Because these staffs know their information needs on a day-to-day basis, they can help shape the reporting environment, so their participation will be essential," Bauer said.

In addition to formal training, a Cognos users group will be formed to share tips and other information. Shared queries, written and validated by experienced report authors, also will be created for use by all Cognos users. Others will be trained later to use more "point-and-click" reporting functionality.

"The implementation of the new student systems provides us an opportunity to create new data fields, new processes, and, thus, new information and reporting," Bauer said. "Having a strong, collaborative group of data analysts across Purdue's campuses will allow us to take full advantage of the new systems, and Cognos will allow us to effectively access student data."

More functions
"This version of Cognos has more functions and a wide variety of reporting and presentation options," Bauer said. "The few Purdue staff who already have participated in Cognos training are excited by its capabilities and anxious to use it as their everyday reporting tool. Cognos is not just reporting software, but a business intelligence tool."

Business influence (BI) refers not only to ways of accessing information to make better business decisions, but also having a comprehensive knowledge of the processes themselves.

Using Cognos, data will be available to a wide variety of staff members with varying levels of reporting skills, including point-and-click, advanced, external data, ad hoc data and dashboard reporting. As Banner goes into production, the Operational Data Store will be refreshed nightly, Bauer said. The Enterprise Data Warehouse data will allow for more analytical reporting and trend analysis in the future.

"The current (legacy) Student Decision Support System (DSS) will remain available to access historical data. This will allow for longitudinal analysis."

Purdue has purchased "named" licenses for Cognos (as opposed to a site license), Bauer said. "With this focus, we have an ample number of each type of license."

License distribution is being managed by OnePurdue's Enrollment and Student Affairs Advisory Committee.
For more information about ESA reporting, contact Sarah Bauer at 49-40886 or sarah@purdue.edu.


More about OnePurdue: www.purdue.edu/onepurdue