5.15 Decision Support Systems
The members of the campus community at SCSU are continually challenged to
make high quality decisions in an environment of limited resources. The need
for current, accurate, timely, and properly interpreted information is an
on-going requirement to make well-informed decisions on day-to-day issues
and to move the university forward in strategic and visionary ways. For this
document, the term Decision Support Systems is used to describe the type
of information systems that are specifically designed to provide information
for decision and policy making at all levels. This information may be used
- federal agencies
- state agencies
- local community entities
- SCSU administration
- individuals, including faculty, staff, and students
- other campus stakeholders
From the technology support side, it appears that the university has significant
data residing in the university database, in one or more data warehouses
supported in the Chancellor’s Office, and in other less coordinated
local databases. The data is, in general, readily accessible and understandable.
Some issues that should be addressed are identifying
- the point of contact where data resides
- the point of contact for data definition
- the technology tools for data manipulation
- the channels of information delivery
Across similar universities, SCSU is probably not much different than most
with respect to information delivery. The challenge here is to do better,
to formalize and recognize that information is critical to the long-term
strategic success of SCSU, to train staff and decision makers in the data
and tools that are available, and to be a leader in delivering information
systems that successfully speak to the information needs of this University.
In the next five years, SCSU will make significant progress in the retrieval
and delivery of information to support decision making and policy making at
SCSU. The goals are to
- use to SCSU's best advantage any existing data and acquire additional
data as needed
- identify and acquire the proper software tools to process the data into
- identify, acquire, and use the proper channels for the delivery of information
- train technologists, end-users, and the entire campus in the proper
use of data, tools, and information
- make the availability and delivery of timely information a normal part
of doing business at this university
Specific Actions and Timeline
During Fall 2003, charge the Special Assistant to the Provost for Institutional
Studies and the Director of the Center for Information Systems to co-chair
a committee (including faculty, staff, administration, and student representatives)
- identify each significant source of data stored about SCSU
- identify meaningful characteristics regarding each data store (i.e.,
common name of the data store, data in the data store, who controls the
data, the software tools to access the data, the currency of the data)
- make this information widely available
The committee will adhere to the following schedule rather than the standard
timeline for carrying out and reporting on specific actions:
- During Spring 2004, the committee will begin a process of identifying
and prioritizing critical success factors with respect to information needs.
That is, factors regarding information that are critical for success in
the delivery and use of information at SCSU.
- As critical success factors are identified, the committee will attempt
to find the proper mix of technology, training, and other resources to
ensure that the critical success factors are supported and are deliverable.
- The committee will stay informed of developments in commercial off-the-shelf
software products designed to support these goals and bring forward recommendations
regarding purchases or options for SCSU and for MnSCU system-wide use.
The initial set of resources is primarily related to staff time to compile
and inventory existing data and information sources. Undoubtedly, the goal
to support the university with a higher level of service quality will call
for funds to purchase hardware, software licenses, training, and possibly data.
The resource needs will only be known as the initiative moves forward. The
committee will be responsible for identifying the costs and benefits for any
recommendations put forth.
- Is SCSU using to its best advantage the available data sets and acquiring
external data as needed?
- Is SCSU using the proper software tools to process data?
- Are the proper channels being used to deliver information?
- Has training been provided to properly use the data, the tools, and
the resulting information?
- Is the availability and delivery of timely information viewed as a normal
part of doing business at SCSU?
- Has the committee submitted a final report in Spring 2008?
- Has the committee made recommendations for the next cycle of technology
Revised: May 2003