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CASE STUDY - Making the Grade with Enterprise Information Management


Commentary by Lise Carriere, Director, Institutional Research, Université du Québec à Montréal
Consolidating Student Lifecycle Data From Disparate Sources

Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) offers a wide range of programs to approximately 40,000 undergraduate, graduate, and research students. It is a public, French-language urban university, located in Montreal, Canada.

UQAM closely monitors the lifecycle of each of its enrolled students from initial application to graduation. It’s critical that the university understand trends in its student population—such as demographics, attrition rates, and program-specific information—in order to continue attracting first-rate students and professors.

With tens of thousands of current and potential students each year, maintaining data in student lifecycle files is no small task. Historically, this data was stored in a number of independent systems—meaning that UQAM could not provide a single, coherent view of its data. Users received different results depending on which system they used. “It was quite a mess,” says Lise Carriere, director of institutional research at UQAM. “There was a huge need to make data accurate and accessible to users and administrators so they could make better decisions.” In addition, because the data was stored in disparate systems, UQAM had a difficult time tracing database errors.

Seamless Data Integration For Quick Access

UQAM needed to consolidate all of this data—contained in disparate systems—without complex coding and script writing. After some investigation, the university selected and deployed BusinessObjects Data Integrator, a Business Objects enterprise information management (EIM) tool. Data Integrator allows the university to bring together multiple sources of data and gain access to accurate, timely, and trustworthy information. It also facilitates greater system analysis because it provides documentation of the data integration processes. “Documentation is always the last task to be completed, if ever,” notes Carriere. “Having this content readily available is especially reassuring to the university’s small team, which has to deliver results in a short time period.”

By implementing Data Integrator, end users across the university now have a single, integrated view of their institution’s business. Data contained in UQAM’s operational systems is loaded seamlessly into the data warehouse without complex coding.

Finally, we can access data that we desperately neededto see. And we canget it faster than ever before.
Lise Carriere, Université du Québec à Montréal


Reduced Time and Cost, Boosted Data Quality

Thanks in part to the relationship built with Business Objects and the firm’s EIM offerings, UQAM has realized some important benefits across the entire university. The time saved in development, especially from not having to write custom scripts, was key, according to Carriere. “The project as a whole would not have gone forward, given our small team,” she says. “Data Integrator made the project feasible in a reasonable amount of time.”

The university was also able to more quickly integrate additional sources into its data warehouse. This, in turn, allowed more time to implement its BI programs. “We’ve been able to minimize IT infrastructure costs since the deployment of the project,” says Carriere. “We’ve greatly benefited from the reusable development efforts and from the greater level of data quality—since the same jobs and scripts are consistently used and easily updated if there are any changes in the database.”

Djaffar Ben Meddour, senior analyst of institutional research at UQAM, notes: “Since we track the progress of our students, data quality is critical to ensuring we’re working with accurate information. We use the whole stack of Business Objects products to provide users with a single, integrated view of our students and analyze trends in our student population. EIM ensures that we have trustworthy information to drive our BI and performance management programs.”

Carriere is relieved that the deployment has satisfied the overwhelming requests for data insight from university employees. “Finally,” she says, “we can access data that we desperately needed to see. And we can get it faster than ever before.”

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

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