How Your Faculty Activity Database Can Answer Strategic Questions

How Your Faculty Activity Database Can Answer Strategic Questions

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Strategic thinking makes a big difference in the results you get from a faculty management solution. Universities who get the most out of faculty activity data are those who ask themselves two big-picture questions at the outset, and build their systems to answer them. Consider:

  1. What decisions is your institution making? And what information best informs those decisions? Do you need to measure impact or improvement? Determine effectiveness?
  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 faculty management solution should provide. Building your database for your university’s 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 What You Need to Know

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 faculty management solution will provide meaningful reporting on those strategic goals, such as faculty influence on student success, or the impact of extension programs in your state.

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 faculty activity database can detail publications, research, grants and other proofs that the institution is living up to this strategic goal.

Consider North Dakota State University’s (NDSU) approach to managing and measuring the impact of faculty contributions with reporting from Activity Insight. NDSU can show multiple stakeholders how 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 for  the college, multiple colleges or the university as a whole. Faculty activity data 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 many aspects of faculty activity. If you’ve ever scrambled to pull together the information required for accreditation reporting, identify the gaps in your faculty activity 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.

But We Already Have This Data

After answering the questions above, you’re ready to consider your existing data’s usefulness for current reporting requirements. Don’t build your faculty activity database around the data you already have if that data isn’t providing the answers you need. Instead, 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.

Interested in having a conversation about how faculty activity data can help your university answer strategic questions and measure success toward stated goals? Contact us here.