Case Study

UNC Kenan-Flagler Builds a Data-Driven Learning Culture

calendar iconFebruary 5, 2021

In January 2020, Icimo Analytics was acquired by Cherry Bekaert.

With 42,000 graduates working in over 85 countries, the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School is an internationally accredited professional undergraduate and graduate-level global business school. The business school is a part of the University of North Carolina located in Chapel Hill. Founded in 1919, the school’s values focus on a commitment to real-world learning experiences and the development of deep expertise to prepare students with the skillsets needed to evolve and thrive in the next generation of business.

The business school is comprised of five different programs, each operating autonomously with its own set of academic goals and objectives. The programs include Undergraduate Business, Master of Accounting, Master of Business Administration, Doctor of Philosophy and Executive Development.

Les Chaffin, Director of Integration and Analytics at UNC Kenan- Flagler, is tasked with the development and management of the school’s Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) environment whereby faculty and students can consistently utilize data-driven decision models for their operations and learning.

“Icimo Analytics by Cherry Bekaert’s ability to write a query for row-level security was a game changer for UNC Kenan-Flagler. We can now easily apply this feature to other applications and gain access to our data with reassurance in our security.”
– Les Chaffin, Director of Integration and Analytics at UNC Kenan-Flagler

Chaffin and the Data Integration and Analytics team established a comprehensive EDW by collecting requirements and identifying different systems, data sources and files from the various programs within the business school. Establishing an EDW enabled the various programs within the school to query clean and structured data from one central source and analyze information from multiple angles.

The UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s CIO, Georgia Allen, wanted to provide faculty and staff not only the ability to access the data, but further visualize their data in a manner that would enable data-driven decision making throughout the school.

With Tableau software already established as a visualization platform throughout the University of North Carolina, Chaffin and Allen engaged the help of Icimo Analytics by Cherry Bekaert, a business intelligence and consulting firm and Tableau Premier partner. Icimo Analytics by Cherry Bekaert’s first engagement involved reviewing the school’s EDW environment to determine if the school’s data model would facilitate creating enterprise dashboards in Tableau. With verification that the school’s EDW architecture and environment was solid, the Data Integration and Analytics team explored and prioritized the need for enterprise dashboards.

With each program in the business school reliant on a regular cadence of financial reporting for overall operations, the priority was established to create an enterprise financial dashboard with high-level security, allowing permissions delineated by role and program. Prior to the creation of a Tableau dashboard, countless manual hours were spent collecting, combining and analyzing data from numerous excel spreadsheets and then further combining the data into one master spreadsheet. To design the dashboard, UNC’s Data Integration and Analytics team and the Icimo Analytics by Cherry Bekaert team collected requirements from each program and built a custom query that enabled a user to login viewing overall business school data and their specific program data all via a unique sign-in. Programs within the business school are now able to view and communicate turn-key financial information reflective of real-time secure data in minutes, rather than weeks.

Next, the team tackled enrollment dashboards. While simple in concept, enrollment data was defined and calculated different throughout the business school, which made it challenging to properly report and measure progress. Together, the department heads reviewed business requirements and defined enrollment rules for the school. By collaborating as a team, UNC Kenan-Flagler ensured the needs of the entire organization were met, further enabling the school to gain a single source of truth with their enrollment analysis.

Allen also had an overarching goal to broaden and deepen the ability for faculty and staff to make data-driven, informed decisions. Chaffin and the Icimo Analytics by Cherry Bekaert team implemented training with the objective for users to create specific dashboards pursuant of their needs. With an instructor-led personalized training center at Icimo Analytics by Cherry Bekaert’s headquarters, members of UNC Kenan-Flagler attended beginner and advanced Tableau training. Additionally, the Icimo Analytics by Cherry Bekaert’s team provided on-site training to 15 users on the Tableau Server. To continue instilling the engagement and evolution of Tableau throughout the business school, Chaffin and team partnered with the Icimo Analytics by Cherry Bekaert team to host a regular cadence of monthly lunch and learns for faculty and staff to share and discuss user-specific dashboards.

Through discovery conversations with various UNC Kenan-Flagler stakeholders, the UNC Kenan-Flagler Data Integration and Analytics team and the Icimo Analytics by Cherry Bekaert’s team identified analytic needs, designed effective dashboards and established controls and roles across the school. Incorporating data into the primary decision-making cycles and training various stakeholders for long-term engagement continues to elevate the analytics practice within UNC Kenan-Flagler and has had a transformative impact on data-driven change.

“I am appreciative of the partnership and collaboration we have with Icimo Analytics by Cherry Bekaert. Even when they were doing their initial demo and then later training our team of users, they always ensured the data we were working with was relevant which helped tremendously in the onboarding and learning curve.”
-Georgia Allen, CIO At UNC Kenan-Flagler

Icimo Analytics by Cherry Bekaert believes you should be enlightened by your data – not limited by it. We can help you uncover the hidden story in your data so you can make critical business decisions based on knowledge, not anecdotes or assumptions. Let us show you how.

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