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Five Questions to Ask about Effectively Managing Data

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Content originally published on data180.com. Learn more about Interfolio’s acquisition of Data180 here.

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Colleges and universities have been collecting massive amounts of data for decades. This information is often analyzed by institutions for making recommendations to campus personnel, generating institutional reports and analytics, and enabling collaboration.

For these reasons, effective management of data collection is a critical function for all institutions. To determine if data collection is being managed effectively by your institution, consider the following questions:

  • Is your school collecting redundant data? Redundant data can lead to data inconsistencies, along with wasted storage capacity, time, and money, and therefore should be avoided. If it is determined that your institution is collecting duplicate data, what steps can be taken to reduce or eliminate this? Begin by identifying the places where duplicate data are being stored, then be sure to update the processes for collecting this information. For example, a faculty’s member’s name could appear several times in a database if that faculty member has held multiple positions at an institution.
  • Is your school collecting the right data? Departments and business units campus-wide have different needs for data, but could be utilizing the same data to meet these various needs. Therefore, it is important to define the data requirements for each department and business unit, then determine if relevant information is being collected. For example, is your institution collecting exam-related data that isn’t really necessary?
  • Does your school have a data governance plan? Data governance plans are used to administer control over data processes and methods, necessary for improving the quality of data across campus. For example, a data governance plan would include campus-wide processes for managing data archiving and backup, business rules, and data definitions. Make sure data being entered meets the required standards in your institution’s data governance plan.
  • Does your school utilize new data methodologies? Thanks to new technologies, people are thinking about data differently. New methodologies, such as new ways to conduct research surveys, are constantly being developed that can affect how data is being used. How can your institution benefit by utilizing new data methods?
  • Is your school meeting federal and state laws for data security and privacy? Keep in mind the importance of having campus-wide data protection strategies in place, while at the same time considering the need to share data for necessary purposes. For example, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records – any student that attends a school beyond the high school level is granted full privacy rights under FERPA, regardless of their age; however, if either parent has claimed a student as a dependent on their most recent tax return, educational records can be released to both parents.

Finally, ensure the longevity of your institution’s data by keeping it updated and clean on an ongoing basis. To support data maintenance, make sure you have someone responsible and accountable for each dataset used by the institution.

Content originally published on data180.com. Learn more about Interfolio’s acquisition of Data180 here.