Data and decision making

chartAs education leaders we hear a lot about data-based decision making. We’re told that stewardship and prudent decision making are based on objective criteria. However, a recent report from Educause found that, while higher education institutions are collecting more data than ever, the data tends to be used to satisfy reporting requirements rather than to address strategic issues – if it gets used at all.

What is getting in the way?  Two big concerns were the cost of gathering and analyzing data, and mistrust of the quality and/or potential use for data. They also found that some administrators aren’t sure what to do with the data and haven’t built systemwide infrastructures to support it.

Here are some tips from the report to help you get started:

  1. Take a strategic look at the questions you want to address. Focus on those questions rather than data that might be readily available.
  2. Invest in people, not tools. Data analytics is a process and you’ll need to hire or train people with the knowledge to implement it.
  3. Build systemwide partnerships among IT, IR, and leadership.
  4. Create infrastructure to support and communicate about the process.

Finally, the report recommended that we should not wait for the perfect culture or the perfect data. Develop initiatives based on the best data you have – you’ll learn and improve as you go along.

Dee Anne Bonebright



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