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What goes on at the Scottish Higher Education Business Intelligence Group

On the 27th March, Business Intelligence Developers and Analysts gathered at the University of Strathclyde. Hannah Coutts (Business Intelligence Team Leader), Stuart Allen (Business Intelligence Developer) and Paul Scott (Applications Support Team Leader) from IT Services went along to represent the University of St Andrews.

What’s the purpose of the group?

Colleagues from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Strathclyde, Dundee, Stirling and more gather to:

  • Network and discuss their own challenges with implementing various Business Intelligence (BI) solutions;
  • Have round table discussions;
  • Give presentations and demonstrations of the BI tools they use;
  • Showcase the dashboards that have been developed.

Within Scotland, QlikView and Power BI seem to have cornered much of the market.

Across the sector, each University faces similar challenges with:

  • Data capture;
  • Development;
  • Gathering project specifications;
  • Dealing with personal data by ensuring compliance with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

It was very valuable to garner the insights from the other universities regarding these issues, and hear their thoughts on the various BI products.

What did our team bring to the floor?

Hannah demonstrated our new Research Information Dashboard that was recently developed by Ruth Masson. It brings together Human Resources, PURE, Finance and Open Access compliance data to help identify projects for submission to the Research Excellence Framework.

How do we compare with other Universities?

Interestingly, University of Strathclyde have just a small number of dashboards which present data from key areas: Student, Staff, Research, Finance, each following the same template. This is in contrast to St Andrews’ business process focused applications, each tailored to the Professional Service Unit.

A couple of Universities were singing the praises of an Agile development methodology called Business Event Analysis & Modelling (BEAM) that they are using to build their Data Warehouse iteratively. This method aims to break down communication barriers between customer, BI developer and Data Warehouse developer through establishing conventions of how reports are described and documented.

Find out more

All in all, it was a very interesting and insightful day, and we hope that discussions and lessons learned can help assist the BI Team here at St Andrews to better improved our products and services.

For a more extensive write-up please check out the extended article.

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