Last month, we brought together nearly 100 academic and financial leaders from across the country at our annual Academic Performance Solutions Summit. Through the two-day meeting, members heard our latest research, gained insights from APS benchmarks, and networked with EAB experts and peers.
Our members already know the importance of using data to power decisions. Accordingly, this year’s summit theme focused on how to drive meaningful utilization of academic data through the APS platform. The reasons for this theme? An analysis of our active user base found that while 85% of members say that deans and department chairs are their primary users, only 36% have explicitly set clear expectations to guide their use of the data.
To help bridge this gap in utilization, we outlined three imperatives for leaders:
1. Provide clear direction for deans and department chairs
Access to data does not guarantee use of data, especially when there are competing priorities and little or no accountability. So the first step to engaging academic leaders with the data is to embed it into existing planning processes. Leaders from Washburn University and the University of Central Missouri were featured on a panel at the summit and discussed how they have integrated APS into annual departmental reviews. Another panel featured leaders from Saint Ambrose University who presented on their integration of data into budget and resource planning.
3 types of data every department chair needs (but usually doesn’t have)
2. Offer ongoing support for users
New technology can be overwhelming for some users. Throughout the summit, members shared how they take advantage of trainings offered by the APS consulting team, as well as how they have cultivated internal champions. We also shared new resources, such as our Annual Departmental Review Toolkit, and received valuable feedback on other resources to prioritize for 2019.
3. Track and measure progress
It’s easy to get lost in the data and experience "analysis paralysis” if you don’t have a clear goal in mind. Members shared a variety of goals, including firm targets for improved efficiency and increasing course completion rates. APS dedicated consultants are following-up with all attendees to continue the conversation and build customized utilization plans to document and track next steps.
Beyond sharing and emphasizing these imperatives to encourage data use, we also shared how the APS platform is evolving to meet changing needs. Our Program Advisory Council (PAC) reviewed potential new features in an intimate discussion with the product development team, providing critical input on new analytics, methodologies, and designs for the 2019-2020 product roadmap. Melanie Bowen, SVP of product strategy and development, concluded summit with preview of the product roadmap, which highlighted program-level analytics as the top priority for next year.
It was my first APS Summit and I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to engage in-person with so many members —especially those who I’ve only been able to connect with virtually. It was energizing to hear so many members describe the experience as being directly tailored to the exact conversations they are having on campus.
We plan to use the feedback captured to make ongoing enhancements to the platform, as well as to the resources and networking opportunities that we provide.