CoRe - New analytics solutions for Yale administrators

January 24, 2019

Yale is establishing new Microsoft data analytics tools and partnerships to enhance data-driven decisions and insights from administrative systems. The Common Reporting Platform (CoRe) consists of Microsoft Azure infrastructure (e.g., virtual servers and security layers), Microsoft SQL Server database management, and the Microsoft analytics suite including SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), Analysis Services (SSAS), and Power BI.  The Microsoft analytical suite will ultimately replace the Hyperion Portal, which is due to be decommissioned by June 2020.

CoRe will not replace reporting in existing systems of record (e.g., Workday, Banner, InfoEd); source data will remain in these systems for native reports. Further, it will not replace operational reporting from such systems where it meets user needs. However, where next-day operational reporting should be supplemented, it will be done in CoRe with common architecture and tools to maximize economies of scale in technology. As an example, the platform will aggregate Workday financial data related to grants into “Research Portfolio Management Reports.” Further, the platform will enable data combinations from multiple systems of record, which today are distinct silos that encourage analysts to create disparate solutions that may not reconcile to a consistent interpretation by different audiences.  Where available, operational systems will continue to provide real-time analytical reporting.

CoRe’s Data Management team has partnered with subject matter experts (SMEs) at Yale to develop functionally-relevant data marts for the Research Enterprise community, the teams who administer academic spaces across the University, and representatives from Business Operations and Lead Administrators. A “data mart” is the user-accessible production of related data tables that integrate complementary details about a data domain into a coordinated and optimized analytical solution. The first data mart in CoRe supports Research Enterprise administrators, combining Workday award and expense data into “Research Portfolio Management Reports” with data from Infoed about research proposals, agreements, and participants.  Reports developed with Microsoft’s SSRS analytics are delivered to end users via the Power BI Report Server. The Office of Research Enterprise Operations (OREO) is currently partnering with Yale Information Technology Services’ teams to collaboratively test the validity and responsiveness of the integrated data and the new reports.

Development of the first CoRe iteration is a result of collaboration of the Research Administration team, Finance, and ITS teams including IT Infrastructure, the Windows team, the Information Security Office, Solutions Architecture, Data Management, and Institutional Reporting & Analytics. The first set of research content was delivered for end user review in September, and newer content continues to be reviewed by the Office of Research Enterprise Operations.  Initial training on Microsoft analytics solutions SSRS and Power BI Desktop was held in November and December, giving OREO and ITS teams opportunities to become familiar with the tools and interact with veteran trainers to discuss Yale’s environments and configurations.

CoRe will also host a new Student Academic Space Utilization data mart and reporting solution.  The Student Space Utilization data mart will integrate data sourced from systems used to reserve academic spaces for courses and events such as 25Live and EMS, as well as several cross-mapped data elements from FAMIS, Yale’s official facilities data management system. The University Registrar’s Office hopes that the new data mart will offer flexible self-service reports for an array of University staff responsible for functions such as student safety, building access and planning. The data mart will also support trend analyses.

The third administrative data domain to come into the Common Reporting Platform is Workday finance data to enable flexible data reporting for business operations and lead administrators. Data from Workday comparing current year budgets to actuals, aggregated commitments, obligations, and balances, and grant transactions will form a new data mart in CoRe to allow for future integrated reporting with supplemental data from non-Workday systems. Central Finance received introductory Power BI report training, assisted with data dictionary development and reviews, and have leveraged new Power BI Report Server standard reports to assist with validation and user acceptance testing. A small group of data assessment partners have begun to assist developers with design reviews, usability testing, and functional feedback from Business Operations. On January 9, Data Assessment Team partners participated in a demo of the new analytics tools and data mart, to identify enhancement requests and feedback to inform future customer training options and learning aids.

If you have questions about the new Common Reporting Platform, please contact Ryan Schlagheck or Kathleen Broderick, of Institutional Reporting and Analytics. Additional information about CoRe is available here. A recent Business Update also discusses the Finance Data Mart and reporting initiative.