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Past Data Access Updates

November 2010

Data access is now live with applicant data. These data are now available to the campus via the InfoSource PS_RPT_APPLICATIONS_V table. The data access team appreciated the invaluable help from Laurie Bragg and Barbara Rooney from the Office of Admissions in presenting and discussing this table during our October town hall session  and several people commented that they now have a clearer understanding of how the new tool will function.
We have conducted iStrategy orientation with subject matter experts from student records, student financials and financial aid. These sessions were geared toward gathering additional information to be used in the configuration of the software that pulls information out of UBSIS for reporting purposes.

The data access advisory group indicated a coding crosswalk between UBSIS majors and entities was critical to incorporating new UBSIS data into existing reporting processes. Accordingly, the team created the first in a series of InfoSource-based tables to respond to this need. The table has been released to the InfoSource user-community as PS_RPT_LOK_PLAN_ENTITY_V.

 Accordingly, we are contemplating going to a WebEx-only format for subsequent town hall meetings and more information will be forthcoming. Project leadership has secured help from a group of experienced individuals from across campus to provide an important unit-based perspective to our efforts. In particular, these individuals will be involved in all phases of the data access mission. Individual users can also help this effort by reviewing new data UBSIS data relevant to their particular operations and reporting their comments – both good and bad – back to the data access team at ubsst@buffalo.edu.

September 2010

We have deployed data models within InfoSource to support the Admissions and the Schedule of Classes go-lives.  These models are currently under review by UBSIS functional personnel associated with these areas.  Additional work has involved development of a rollout plan for the remaining un-deployed UBSIS modules. Finally, we have created the foundation to support the integration of student data with other information from across the enterprise.

As previously discussed in the Town Hall meeting and in these updates, UBSIS will dramatically reshape the InfoSource student data landscape. In particular, due to the vast differences between our current legacy student system and UBSIS, most current InfoSource student data models will need to be replaced once the new system is implemented.  Moreover, replacement will not occur all at once, but will instead be staged according to the project Go-Live schedule.  This will be an extremely challenging time, as the campus attempts to work with unfamiliar data and concepts. 

In order to prepare for the transition, a key component of the rollout plan will be the distribution of information about new model structure and data.  This will be accomplished by a variety of means, some of which will include additional Town Hall-style sessions.  Discussion topics will include UBSIS basics and module processing details, as well as frequently asked questions (eg. “What tables and query logic do I use to determine fall 2010 freshman applicants?”).  It is hoped these sessions will produce a frank exchange of ideas between project personnel and the user community in order to smooth the transition to the new system.

We are currently putting the finishing touches on the rollout plan which will be released to the user community after project leadership review.  It is hoped once the metadata are made available, each member of the user community will examine the structure to determine the impact on his or her functional area.  In this respect, there is an opportunity for everyone on campus to participate, as we actively seek to establish a dialogue with the user community to ensure the deployment is successful for everyone.

July 2010

We are currently in the process of finalizing UBSIS data models that will be deployed within InfoSource.  Release of these models will generally follow the schedule of go-lives for the coming months.  The focus of our efforts will be to deliver reports/information to module functional personnel using these data models as a foundation.  We are also developing a process to resolve questions about the models as well as enhance their utility in the post go-live environment.

UBSIS will dramatically reshape the InfoSource student data landscape.  In particular, the system's integrated structure promises to improve both the accuracy and level of detail associated with student information.  Moreover, it will do so using an architecture that is very different from that of the legacy system it replaces. This means the campus will not be able to utilize the current UB-developed data models to house new InfoSource UBSIS student data.  Instead, the campus has elected to purchase and deploy the iStrategy data warehouse solution to perform this function.  iStrategy will extract information from the many tables that comprise UBSIS (there are over 10,000!) to create a series of pre-defined data models spanning the needs of the typical student enterprise. The models are particularly efficient at supporting reporting and analysis functions.  As an example, they have a number of pre-defined groupings called "bands" which will greatly improve our ability to aggregate students along selected enrollment dimensions.

Functional and technical personnel in each of the UBSIS modules are evaluating data models.  Expert personnel from outside UBSIS who have agreed to serve the project in an advisory capacity are conducting further evaluation.  These experts typically work extensively with InfoSource student data at the table and field level, and often provide both detailed and summarized information to constituencies from across campus and around the world.

We anticipate these changes will provide great benefit to the campus.

June 2010

Mark Molnar and Gary Pacer presented information about how data and reports will be managed in the new UBSIS at the Data Access Town Hall meeting this past month. The slides and webcast recording are available for review on the SST Webcast site. This information responded to some stakeholder concerns and cleared up some misconceptions about how legacy data and reports are being managed.

The team continues to work on development of the new iStrategy data models that will ultimately reside within InfoSource. We have completed research on the “degree of fit” between the current InfoSource models and the new UBSIS data. For “Admissions Active” we are about one-third of the way matched. iStrategy has started to customize their software with UB-centric business rules and testing is in process. The new system will ultimately necessitate a total redesign of current InfoSource data models, since the underlying processes supporting the admissions functions in the new system are much different than those in the legacy system. This will impact all InfoSource users of admissions data, particularly those who access the data at the table and view level, when we go-live in August.

The good news is that this change will provide InfoSource users with more accurate and timely admissions data, resulting in better analytical and reporting capacity and accuracy. The data in the new format is likely to be more applicable to current and planned business practices than legacy data and we’re working with departmental advisors to ensure that proper support and training is provided to the UB InfoSource user community.

Dave Costello, Assistant Dean for the School of Management, examined how to manage the changeover of legacy data and reports to new system data views within his unit. His methodology includes:

  1. Know what's being converted:  First, we would need to create a list of the tables by their actual InfoSource table names and their associated new tables. This would include a listing of the fields, along with the field description for each of the tables.
  2. We would need an understanding of the new system and how to retrieve just Management data.
  3. Review the databases that utilize the InfoSource tables in question and determine how many queries and reports need to be reviewed and recreated using the new tables. We would probably then prioritize the list of items.
  4. MS Access:  We would link the new InfoSource tables in the Access database. Next, we would make a copy of the long-standing queries that we've used, leaving the existing queries in place. We would change the query to utilize the new table(s) and fields. We assume there might be some issues with joining tables, either in-house tables or "old" InfoSource tables.
  5. Balance or validating integrity of reports: The most important step will be to confirm the integrity or accuracy of the reports. It would be great to balance or compare the results.
  6. Support: We would need to understand who to contact or email with questions about the new table structures, using the new data, understanding the new fields, comparing the old and new data, etc.

The Data Access team is appreciative of Dave’s generosity in sharing this methodology and hope that others can apply some of this to their areas. We are using some of his feedback in determining how we can help data users within the units and we look forward to making significant progress over the summer.

April 2010

The Data Access Team is busily preparing for the August 2010 go-live of the Schedule of Classes and Admissions modules.  This includes the standard reports that are used for operational activities within campus administrative offices, along with the ad hoc data needs of departmental Infosource customers. 

Some important team changes have been made as we engage in these efforts.  Mark Molnar, Academic Planning and Budget, has assumed the role of functional lead for this aspect of the project.  We have also added additional membership to our Data Access Advisory Group, which functions as a “sounding board,” vetting ideas to assist in the migration to new data formats. The advisory group is currently comprised of representatives from Institutional Analysis, Engineering, Medicine, Management, Student Affairs and Arts and Sciences. 

A common question from users is how UBSIS data will be available to units across campus.  Data from UBSIS will continue to be made available through UB Infosource in a location common to current customers.  Standardized, centrally provided reports will be accessible through a web-based interface to all current users.  Although access will be similar to what it is today, the data views and the fields inside of those views will change because terminology changes and functionality changes occurring within the core system modules will cascade to the reporting and data access arena.   These changes will be explained through future communications, training, and documentation.