Creating a Data-informed Culture (from the March webinar)

Q. Historically, data flowed from the unit directors up to leadership, but there was little data that trickled back down to help the unit managers be more effective. What plans are in place to improve that and have bi-directional data flow?

A. We are in the process of building out a strategy and a roadmap to get to where we want to be. Data that has been analyzed and value added to it and then brought back into the system and shared appropriately will certainly be part of that strategy.

Also, there are a couple of things we do currently as an institution that put us at risk. One is when we send out data sets that are not secured in a way we feel comfortable with as IT leaders. Another is a productivity issue. When an executive or business leader needs data for operational reporting, that should exist on a dashboard. Executives should be able to get that information on a regular basis without needing a lot of effort to produce it.

Q. How do we balance protecting data with having access to data?

A. We’re building a modern source for people data across the University and managing access to that information where you will have access based on your role in identity management. That will make it a lot easier to access information to make informed decisions. We need to clarify where each individual in the chain’s rights and responsibilities begin so we can be more efficient. The bottom line is it won’t be IT making these rules. It will be the University making the rules and guiding us.

Q. Some units like Career Services are very rich in data. What kind of questions might Penn State leadership be interested in us answering with respect to students?

A. Gaining insights into a student’s experiences and how that helped them be successful would be valuable. The University collects a tremendous amount of data about our students, and they want to leverage as much of that as possible in an appropriate way that respects security and privacy. We have a lot of work to do in this area. It’s an evolving field and all universities are wrestling with this right now.

Q. If we gather this information, how will it be used to inform existing policies and procedures around data governance?

A. As an organization, we should be tracking the top incident drivers for the University community. For example, let’s say password reset is the challenge that requires most people to reach out for support. If this is a challenge for the University community, what are we doing to address this? Is it improving technology? Is it improving training? Is it a better user interface? That rises data up to the point where it gives us insight into potentially improving the customer experience.

On a more student-centric side, it’s about trying to understand the pathway students take when they need to talk to the registrar, the bursar, Student Affairs, etc., to make it a more transparent, easier-to-navigate process for them.

FAQ archive