The University Record, May 6, 2002

New program helps staff excel at data management

By Lesley Harding

If you’re an administrative staff member at the University, you probably get bombarded every day with information. While the availability of electronic information has greatly increased, staff find that they need a “magic wand” to transform the vast amounts of data into useful information.

“As we considered various staff development needs,” says College of Engineering Associate Director Lori Haskins, “several themes emerged: a changing environment, increased data availability and the need for management information to support resource management.”

CoE partnered with HRD and Information Technology Central Services to address the need for data management tools. The team designed and developed a program, “Using Excel to Manage Information.”

“This program helps build the knowledge and skills necessary to create, manage, manipulate and summarize data to produce meaningful management reports within Excel,” says Bob Holmes, director of Human Resource Development. “The HRD staff members, Cindee Dresen and Kristen Storey, who worked on this project, have had extensive experience in helping units across the University assess training needs, and design and develop training curricula that are highly responsive to their clients’ needs. I’m delighted that HRD has such highly skilled staff that could partner with CoE and add value to the College.”

Excel is a Microsoft program that many people have used, but this training program helps them go beyond the basics. Haskins and Holmes say through hands-on computer activities, case studies, lectures and homework assignments, the eleven initial staff “students” expanded their abilities to manipulate and summarize information.

A 30-day follow-up survey to the training program participants found many of them were using Excel in a “much different way.” They felt better equipped to manage larger and more complex amounts of data.

Haskins says an important part of the training is the support network these first round students have set up. They’ve established an e-mail group to share their success, to ask questions and to encourage future participation in the training program.

The “Using Excel to Manage Information” pilot was held in March to test the design and gather feedback for future classes.

The College of Engineering plans to hold the training again this year for its staff on a demand basis. The experience and feedback from this program will be used to develop future programs aimed at improving office productivity.

For more information on the training program, call the HRD office, (734) 764-7410, or contact Cindee Dresen at cdresen@umich.edu, Kristen Storey at kstorey@umich.edu or Elaine Cousins at elainec@umich.edu.