Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Business intelligence projects showcase ingenuity

Learn about business intelligence at U-M >
More information and video recaps of the 2009 Business Intelligence Awards >

If you were to look for a crystal ball in university leadership decision-making, perhaps the closest you would find would be the predictive tools, applications, and technologies of business intelligence (BI).

Three campus BI projects recently received the 2009 Business Intelligence Data-into-Action award, which honors innovations that not only save time and resources for the units or business functions that design them, but also show promise for use elsewhere at U-M and beyond.

From computing space productivity by isolating certain metrics to organizing admissions data in simple charts or complex graphs, the BI innovations on campus consistently showcase the university’s ingenuity in information technology.

Associate Vice President Laura Patterson hopes developments in BI will allow the university to “move ahead of some of our competitors.”

“Never has it been more important for our leaders to have good information on which they can make decisions,” Patterson says. “The University of Michigan is well positioned to move forward in very strategic ways. Decisions like recruiting top-notch faculty and building new labs are very strategic decisions. Our leaders can only make those decisions if they have good information, and that is what business intelligence is all about.”

Awards went to:

• Office of Space Management from the Medical School, for its creation of “M-Space,” a tool that calculates space productivity and arranges information in a simple, flexible format. The school has seen a 4.18 percent annual overall increase in space productivity, faster response time for space requests, increased data integrity, and unprecedented cooperation from department chairs.

• Benefits Office Integrated Data Warehouse Team from the Human Resources Benefits Administration Office, for its creation of an integrated health care data warehouse that aggregates, protects, and updates information from many health care data sources. The warehouse allows the university to answer questions easily about the health of the U-M population, and improve decision-making related to wellness programming and benefits.

• Admissions and Aid M-Reports Team from the Law School, for its creation of a pilot M-Reports dashboard for the Law School Admissions Office that calculates and clearly displays numerous metrics critical to the admissions process, streamlining the processes and enabling users to immediately see what once took significant time and manipulation to create.

• The Pressure Ulcer Workgroup from the School of Nursing also created a daily automated feedback system that summarizes relevant data – including a patient’s pressure ulcer risk, status, and need for intervention – for UMHS clinicians.

Joe Castillo, financial/business analyst at the Law School, a member of the Admissions and Aid M-Reports Team from the school, summarized the fundamental goals of all BI innovations at the university in a discussion of his own team’s tool.

“(The Law School wants) to make sure that we have an efficient use of resources. We want to allocate monies in the best way possible to get the best class possible,” Castillo says. “It is very competitive, and there are schools competing for the same students. We want to make sure that we maintain the integrity of the incoming classes from year-to-year. We also want to make sure that we are saving time and being efficient, with less manual work in fewer places.”

Although the language of business intelligence varies, the lingo of innovation is common to all. In order to remain the leaders and best, the development of new analytical tools has become a priority at the university, leaders say.