ask the right questions for FAR solution success

Ask the Right Questions for FAR Solution Success

Strategic thinking makes a big difference in the results you get from your faculty activity reporting (FAR) solution. According to Digital Measures Solution Specialist David Sarnowski, clients who get the most out of Activity Insight are those who ask themselves two big-picture questions at the outset, and build their database to provide the most relevant information at their institution.

  1. What decisions is your institution making? What information best informs those decisions?
  2. What answers does your university require? Can you evaluate progress toward strategic goals? Can you completely and accurately report on faculty information required by accrediting bodies?

Discovering answers to these questions provides you with a “needs list” of specific information your FAR solution should provide. Building your database to answer your university’s most mission-critical questions ensures you’ll get the information you want from the system. In fact, considering your university’s mission is a great place to start.

Start with the end in Mind (Hat Tip to Steven Covey)

Your university’s strategic plan reflects its mission, and it likely specifies outcomes that the university must deliver. How will your institution measure and report on those outcomes? With the right data, your FAR solution will provide meaningful reporting on those strategic goals.

For example, if being a premiere institution for research and scholarship at the doctoral level is a pillar of your institution’s strategic plan, what information is necessary to measure success? Reporting from your FAR system can detail publications, research, grants and other proofs that the institution is living up to this strategic goal.

North Dakota State University (NDSU) now manages and measures impact of faculty contributions with reporting from Activity Insight. This allows NDSU to show all stakeholders that it makes a positive impact in business and in society. Read more about NDSU’s impact reporting here.

Big Questions, Bigger Insights

Rollup reporting takes each department’s reports on the same topic and rolls it up to the college level, multiple colleges or the university as a whole. FAR reporting can show contributions at all levels, affording your institution the opportunity to identify successes as well as places to improve.

For example, if your strategic plan or accreditation review requires information on cultural diversity, what would help you measure and evaluate this across your institution? Some of our clients have introduced a diversity-related course component and now collect that data. Because they considered the big questions when planning their database, they can roll up that data through a diversity-specific query that shows all the publications courses, presentations and other diversity-related resources on campus.

Consider Accreditation

Regional and professional accrediting bodies require detailed information on aspects of faculty activity. If you’ve ever scrambled to pull together the information required for accreditation reporting, identify the gaps in your FAR data that sent you digging through departmental paperwork for answers. Then build your database to ensure that it can report on this information in the future.

For example, AACSB directs business schools to develop criteria for the classification of faculty based on education and other activities. Purdue University’s Calumet College of Business leverages the data in Activity Insight to create a report that calculates Faculty Qualification Status for them based on the College’s defined criteria.

But We Already Have This Data

Don’t build your FAR database around the data you already have if that data isn’t providing the answers you need. After answering the questions above, you’re ready to consider your existing data’s usefulness for current reporting requirements. Migrate any existing data that gets you closer to that goal, even if it requires some additional work to be useful. For example, if the data you have was entered in a free-text field, it may be more useful if placed in separate fields. Establish those fields and prepare your data so it correctly imports into them.

Digital Measures holds extensive conversations with each of our clients to discuss their university’s strategic objectives, and to implement Activity Insight to deliver reporting on progress toward the goal.

What big-picture questions matter to your university? We would love to talk with you about answering those questions with reporting from Activity Insight.

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