Automated Reporting:  The Simple Answer for the Consistent Questions

Jason L. Meriwether

November 26, 2013

One of the most fascinating aspects of being a CSAO is the time spent asking questions such as “how do we make this process more efficient” or “how do we make this more student oriented?”  One of my personal favorite questions is “how do we measure outcomes if we take this direction?”  There is a profoundly simple answer to all of these questions.  Automated Reporting (AR).  The simplicity of these two words is only rivaled by the expansiveness of how we can apply the technique. This is where the process begins for student affairs (SA) & enrollment management (EM) professionals. 

Automated Reports

The value of running AR processes to manage student data is sometimes quite underestimated in our field.  I am personally fortunate to have such wonderful colleagues in my institutional research (IR) office who are supportive of the data-driven nature of our EM & SA projects.  By collaborating with IR, we have AR set up to capture registration trends, reportable EM data, and all of our retention and student success initiatives. 

Assessment Tracking

My favorite element of automation is real-time reporting of our metrics.  We are able to see outcomes as frequently as we wish, be that daily, weekly, or monthly.  This allows my team and I to make decisions based on current information without having to “hurry up and wait” for measurable outcomes.  What makes this so special for me is the comparative data that accompanies our real-time information.  For example, we are tracking a segment within our freshman cohort as part of an EM strategy designed to help students persist.  Our automated reports give real-time comparisons of current project results against prior years before our initiative began.  Thanks to AR, we always have a real story to tell. 

Access Enhancement

When we identified enhancement opportunities with our internal process for collecting student program data & tracking community service, the obvious answer was AR.  Through collaboration with University Information Technology (UITS), we are developing an online process to improve this service.  This however, isn’t the coolest part of the story.  Our UITS team has now designed a brand new process for summarizing student program data, reserving campus events, and automatically feeding student information into our University’s student program software, MyINvolvement.  This eliminates the busy work of loading documents and filling out multiple forms from our students’ experience, and frees the team up for meaningful campus engagement.  Our upcoming January launch, along with a few clicks and keystrokes, transforms a student service challenge into a student process success story. 

Often, the best present I can give my team is the gift of time.  SA & EM administrators can free up many hours by establishing Automated Reporting processes and collaborating with key stakeholders to give AR life.  By establishing an AR-centric model, we can all empower our teams with strategic and intentional systems that guide our processes, track our metrics, and inform our decisions.  So next time you hear all of those questions I mentioned in the introduction, just remember, there is always a simple answer.  AR. 

Jason L. Meriwether is the Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management & Student Affairs at Indiana University Southeast. Jason believes that effective Enrollment Management & Student Affairs practices are best when theory and technology are at the nexus of student services. Jason says that as much as he values technology, his best success comes from working with an awesome team of collaborators at IU Southeast.   You can follow Jason on twitter @IUSoutheastVC

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