Managing data

Paul Harrington, Product Development Director for Scientia, discusses data management platforms in HE and the benefits to leadership teams

What is a data management platform?

A data management platform is like a data warehouse – a centralised system for collecting, integrating and managing large data sets from disparate sources, sorting it out and providing information in a way that’s right for the business process. 

With universities around the world under unparalleled pressure to save time and money by working more efficiently, data management platforms (DMPs) are coming into their own.By moving data quickly and securely between disparate business-critical applications and ensuring access is reliable and consistent throughout the institution, a good DMP can quickly streamline a university’s processes.

Managing university data is traditionally challenging, with vital information often spread across multiple systems. A scalable DMP addresses that challenge by providing a seamless and secure data transfer process between databases and supported applications. Universities simply input the data once and then use it many times, across multiple systems so ensuring a single source of validated information.

For example, when timetabling, a university may need to use the same data for its student record system, for its room-booking system, for publishing student timetables, for managing conference facilities and for facilities management. When planning maintenance a two-way transfer of information (bi-directional) is invaluable in blocking out teaching rooms undergoing refurbishment. 

Universities without a DMP traditionally manage such data transfers using a myriad of bespoke manual file transfers – a long and tedious task, prone to error and much better performed automatically. Manual processes are high maintenance, requiring lots of intervention, but worst of all the data is very quickly out of date and there is no overall check of validity. 

The latest DMP technology adds more value by enabling integration workflows to be entirely automated and allowing users to view and control their data exchanges via a simple web interface.

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When looking for a good, powerful DMP, it is vital to choose one offering a single solution, allowing vital data to be shared across multiple applications rapidly, consistently and securely. Also, before you start, it’s important to identify the business processes to be supported.

Look for:

  • Configurability – shipping data may sound easy, but if the data is not tied up to link with the right business processes the end result is a misaligned unvalidated report
  • Flexibility
  • Enhanced features such as differential updates, audit logs, triggers and bi-directional interfacing. Differential data – i.e. instead of writing everything, only write the changes – improves efficiency and ensures only valid data is updated, so giving a stronger audit log
  • Coverage of not just databases but also a wide multitude of interfaces, web services, and APIs (applications programming interfaces)
  • Capability to manipulate and transform data held in one system, which may be presented in a different format in another system, for example date fields, which can be expensive to change.
  • A powerful management information reporting suite including rich graphical analysis of integration interfaces

Enhancing the efficiency, performance and security of previously complex data integrations between everyday applications allows universities to move on from integrating timetabling functions to transferring business critical information between other sources and applications, such as estates, finance, attendance monitoring, HR and more.

The result is one single solution which will reliably attain and maintain consistency of data within IT systems, providing universities with complete control of their critical, everyday data processes.

Paul Harrington is Product Development Director for Scientia, global market leaders in the provision of resource management solutions to the higher education sector. In partnership with Scope4mation, they have just launched a new data management integration platform, Scientia Connect.

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