Universities rely on information, but it’s not enough to just have vast amounts of data. We need a strategy for using data wisely, and that’s where data governance comes in.  We’re deliberate about finding effective ways to manage our data at Ball State, and in this post we share an inside look at some of our progress.

Our Vision of Data Governance

Anyone who’s ever wrangled a large dataset knows it can get complicated. At BSU, we’re looking at those challenges as opportunities to do things better. We’re developing a data management strategy that helps us solve problems to make BSU even stronger, and we’re seeing results. Think of data governance as laying the foundation for everything we want to do with analytics. We’re focused on three main goals: accuracy, reliable information, and a flexible approach that can adapt as we learn and improve.

Accuracy: A Foundation Built on Using Accurate Data

Accurate data – it’s the lifeblood of any analysis or analytics program.  That’s why we have established structures including the MIDAS Steering Committee, the Explorer Program, and our evolving roadmap. Through these efforts, and others, we’re building a data literate culture across our campus. The real impact is measured by the use of data to improve processes like how we connect with students to how we manage our courses and programs.

The Explorer Program: Empowering Data Literacy

The Explorer Program is one of the areas where we level up our data skills. We train folks, get them access to the best sources, and make sure they’re empowered to use what they learn. It’s about more than getting a new tool – it’s about instilling the confidence to really dig into our data. Want to know how well the program is working? BSU’s Explorers have made several custom dashboards for their departments; Explorers are leveraging BSU data to inform and guide action in their departments.

Explorers aren’t just using data tools, they’re creating them!

Reliable Information: BSU’s Data Warehouse

The data warehouse is fast becoming our go-to for analytics. Integration of data across a large organization, especially across multiple systems, presents unique challenges. We’re consistently working toward data integration, whether it’s from a legacy system, a concurrent system, or a newly implemented system. One key to success is documenting these systems, preparing detailed integration plans, and being prepared for inevitable unexpected challenges. We’re seeing consistent progress in improving the process for connecting data sources and utilizing that data with Tableau. As our data warehouse matures, we will more fully roll out our data rating system to ensure confidence not only in sources of data but also the dashboards used to present that data.

Flexible Approach: Staying Nimble

We remain focused on the big picture – how will data governance support what we’re trying to do as a university? We have a data governance roadmap that helps keep us focused but we also have to be ready to alter our approach as conditions change. Ultimately the governance of data requires the support of the entire institution. This requires a large number of campus partners who also can visualize the value of a well governed data structure as a foundation to support analytics– and significant improvement in student success. We believe a significant part of this ongoing process is data literacy and we’ll have exciting new announcements on that front, soon.


The Road Ahead

We’re aiming high when it comes to data governance – we want to maintain and develop a solid foundation and lead the way on use of cutting edge technology. We’re bringing on tools to help! A couple of the most recent are Data Cookbook and Generative AI.

Harnessing the Power of the Data Cookbook at Ball State University

Think of the Data Cookbook as the ultimate “how-to” guide for BSU data. We’re building it right into Tableau, so definitions and descriptions can always be at your fingertips. Need to understand what a dashboard is really for?

Where Tableau users see this icon in dashboards they’ll be able to click, and find out! It’s not just a fancy tech trick; it’s about striving to be sure we all understand our data the same way.

Generative AI: The Next Frontier

AI is changing the game, fast. It can help us get smarter with data, from coding solutions to better analysis and generating explanations of complicated data visualizations, we’re on board. It’s an exciting tool in our data governance toolkit that is sure to see greater use over time.

We’re serious about making data a positive support for achieving the goals of BSU.  Data isn’t just about numbers; it’s about building the best possible university.  Join us as we make BSU a truly data-informed institution!