Automating Dashboards

This is the continuation of a transcript of a presentation by Stu Worman from Indiana University at an IT conference for unversity IT professionals.

What the real value here is that you are making people ask questions. What is changing? What is different? And is this OK? Sometimes it is ok. To make these decisions in context, so let me tell you what happened here.

This was a year ago. It was August 10th. We were going live with our course management system. As user support director, I am preparing. We have got everything ready. We prepared for six months for this day. But we know it’s going to be a big day. Things are going to happen.

I look at the data. We’re getting about 200 extra calls the first couple of days, and I thought, that's probably right. But I saw the support center manager in the hallway and said “so, I guess you’re getting hit a little bit, huh, with this course management system going live?” He’s like "no, not really. What really happened is we just expired all the DHCP licenses the same day for the people who had stayed on campus all summer." They were the ones calling. It wasn’t about the course management system at all.

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So the fact that I know that something changed was good, but my assumption was bad. So you really have to follow up and ask questions, and make sure you are interpreting the data correctly. We used to have an associate vice president who would look at data and make really inappropriate conclusions from the data. And it did nothing but hurt our ability to address the data correctly.

So you do have to make sure that you are using data in an appropriate way. Once you do have that data formatted as useful information, that you it can really help you accelerate the operations efficiency of your department. It can also help you get the things that you need.

When we went to build this dashboard, these were my requirements. I want no manual intervention. Why? It doesn’t happen. The data load might happen the first few times. And then something will get in the way, and then a month will go before you catch up.

You can’t make a decision a month in arrears. Everything has to be automated. I wanted the data there. I wanted it to be no more than 24 hours old, and I wanted it to be something automatic. Nobody had to think about this. I didn’t want any staff have to do anything. So that we could make these decisions, I wanted all of the processes to be automated.

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