State University of New York

Business Intelligence

State University of New York



Background:

The State University of New York (SUNY) is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States. These institutions offer programs as varied as ceramics engineering, philosophy, fashion design, optometry, maritime studies, law, medical education and everything in between.

As part of its Seamless Education Pipeline vision, SUNY is providing technical assistance to a series of systemic and sustainable local education networks across the state. Collectively, these networks are known as the New York State (NYS) Cradle to Career Alliance (C2C). 

The goal of SUNY’s C2C Alliance is to bring together partners who have signed on to strengthen this educational continuum. In partnership with StriveTogether, SUNY is helping communities all around the state adapt a framework for cradle-to-career collective impact and civic infrastructure. 

Challenge:

SUNY needed a solution that would allow them to share their post-secondary data with its C2C Alliance partners in an accessible way. Tableau’s excellent data visualization and reporting capabilities would allow SUNY to get the most out of their data. Such information would aid them in serving their current students better as well as improving their outreach efforts to underserved demographics.  

In order to apply Tableau to this network challenge, the C2C Alliance first needed to demonstrate its potential to partner sites and administrators. They sought a variety of dashboards with full interactivity from one dashboard to another as well as within individual dashboards themselves.

The C2C Alliance could then share relevant reports with their various partner sites by pushing out Tableau workbooks via Tableau Reader and, ideally, Tableau Server. The C2C Alliance didn’t simply want help creating some good-looking dashboards that would soon be outdated—they wanted their efforts to be sustainable. In order to achieve continued success in their data analysis efforts, SUNY staff required in-depth Tableau training.

Receiving Tableau consulting and training was just the tip of the iceberg for SUNY and its C2C Alliance. They also needed assistance in identifying the most efficient method for storing and connecting to their data.

Solution:

The C2C Alliance needed the help of a partner with considerable experience deploying Tableau throughout educational institutions. InterWorks fit that description perfectly. InterWorks worked closely with C2C Alliance staff as well as a member from SUNY’s Institutional Research (IR) team to create exactly what the C2C Alliance envisioned. Detailed Tableau training sessions from InterWorks gave them the ability to showcase their dashboards skillfully when the time came to present them.

The dashboards created allow the user to navigate between various parameters (partnership site, student demographics, cohort years, etc.) and across different metrics. The team specifically included “read me” dashboards in the overall package so that users had some context for looking at the data presented. Above all, the dashboards were made to be interactive and visually appealing.

Using extracts from SUNY’s current data warehouse, InterWorks connected Excel files to Tableau to create seven key dashboards in one workbook. This workbook included three “informative/overview” dashboards with context for the data and four data-driven dashboards. The Executive Director of the NYS C2C Alliance drove the concept and collaborated in making the workbook, the IR team provided the data and expertise, and a member of SUNY’s administration contributed to the strategy development.

Results:

The dashboards were a huge success and were enthusiastically received by partners at all levels. InterWorks helped SUNY’s C2C Alliance create a clear and attractive way to convey analyses of their key post-secondary metrics in Tableau. The most exciting aspect for them is the ability to share data easily between partner sites. These Tableau dashboards have generated a larger discussion at SUNY surrounding data collection and analysis.

Seeing how data can potentially be displayed and shared via Tableau brought this topic to the top of the priority list for the IR team. They expect a larger shift in workflow as a result of this upcoming project’s rollout—when a direct connection from the data source can be made to Tableau versus connecting to Excel files. In the future, SUNY and its C2C Alliance will need to explore the data-sharing agreements and compliance necessary to optimize their data collection efforts across C2C Alliance partner databases when connecting data directly from schools and communities.This endeavor will require a level of compatibility and security across C2C Alliance sites, for which Tableau Server would be the lynch pin. 

InterWorks’ continued Tableau and data management guidance will be instrumental in SUNY’s evolution as a data-driven organization. With the ability to use and articulate their data in new and exciting ways, SUNY can expand upon their core mission of providing quality lifelong education.

Want more details on how we helped the C2C Alliance at SUNY? Head to the extended case study on the blog for additional insight!



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