Data quality determines the accuracy of every report and how accurately your faculty’s accomplishments are portrayed in annual review and promotion and tenure reports. Achieving a high level of data quality means you can trust the reports from your faculty management system to inform your decisions about many strategic priorities, including the impact of your faculty on students, your community and the world. In other words, good data drives smart decisions. So here are five things you need to know about data quality to ensure you’re getting the most from your faculty management solution.
Four Dimensions of Data Quality
To determine the quality of data, consider four dimensions:
- Completeness is the measure of whether data needed to feed your reports are indeed present in your system.
- Consistency in data collection ensures that all activities of a certain type are entered the same way, in a single source field and that they can be consistently extracted to feed any report that requires the information.
- Currency is the measure of how up to date your data are, and therefore how accurately it measures your faculty’s most recent activities. The more you can count on Activity Insight to provide “fresh” information, the more often it will be seen as the go-to source for on-demand information requests about activities and accomplishments.
- Accuracy is, well, accuracy. More on that in a bit.
The X Factor—Accuracy
Only you can evaluate data accuracy for your university, so it’s important to regularly review reports for questionable information. The more users there are using reports from the system, the more eyes there are to spot possible inaccuracies.
Check Data From Other Sources
To begin improving accuracy, build a process around regularly updating data that comes from another campus source system such as Banner or PeopleSoft. It’s important to have a well-vetted bulk data upload process or web services integration to automate a consistent stream of accurate records. It’s useful to evaluate data from screens such as:
- Personal and Contact Information
- Yearly Data
- Permanent Data
- Scheduled Teaching
- Academic Advising
- Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research
Make Alerting Easy
Develop an open channel of communication for faculty to address any inaccuracies in the data imported from other campus systems or citation sources. Adding help text on these screens to direct faculty to the person who can correct the source will ensure that your faculty management system receives corrected data during the next scheduled upload. Frequent updates of data from other campus source systems ensure that Activity Insight data is both current and accurate.
Build Test Reports
It’s also helpful to create custom reports with the specific purpose of testing data quality. These reports can be tailored based on the metrics your campus finds most important. For example, if collaborating with students on research is a key metric, you can surface data quality issues around this metric by building a custom report with a table that displays research records, breaking out collaborators, roles and if a student was involved.
The Dividends of High Data Quality
When all four dimensions of data quality are high, the payoff is enormous: complete, current and accurate reporting to inform strategic decisions and share your university’s story with your many constituents.
What happened to your reports when you improved data quality? Please share your story below.