Digital Advisory: UNC Kenan-Flagler Case Study: Building a Data-Driven Learning Culture
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 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 environment whereby faculty and students can consistently utilize data-driven decision models for their operations and learning.
Chaffin and the Data Integration and Analytics team established a comprehensive Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) by collecting requirements, 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 further 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 decisions 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, a business intelligence and consulting firm and Tableau Gold partner. Icimo Analytics’ 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, the DIA team and the Icimo Analytics 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 aligned on defining enrollment rules for the School. By collaborating as a team, UNC Kenan-Flagler was able to ensure 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 decision. Chaffin and the Icimo Analytics 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 headquarters, members of UNC Kenan Flagler attended beginner and advanced Tableau training. Additionally, the Icimo Analytics team provided on-site training to 15 users on Tableau Server. To continue instilling the engagement and evolution of Tableau throughout the Business School, Chaffin and team partnered with the Icimo Analytics team to host a regular cadence of lunch and learns on a monthly basis 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 team were able to identify analytic needs, design effective dashboards and establish 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.