Building a corporate data warehouse for the future

Our University is embarking on an ambitious three year data warehouse project to transform the way management information is reported and accessed across departments.

Data WarehouseA project has been launched to build a corporate data warehouse to improve the process and delivery of management information which will improve its accuracy and timeliness whilst eliminating manually intensive processes.

Our initiative will create a single accurate source of reporting on all aspects of the University’s performance which will incorporate metrics, trends, benchmarks and targets across business functions presented in a suitable reporting format that colleagues will understand, and upon which our business decisions can be made with confidence.

Despite its name, a corporate data warehouse is not simply a physical structure containing raw data. It’s a series of tables built specifically for defined reports which provides users with current and historical management information which is difficult to access or present in a traditional operational data management system. Data warehousing is the most efficient way to process large amounts of complex data integrated from multiple sources, and once built the reporting can be run automatically and quickly.

During the initial stages of the project, existing reporting is unlikely to change, however as the project progresses an increasing amount of the management information reporting will start to be delivered via the corporate data warehouse. The project team will engage with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and stakeholders from across the University to look at how existing reporting can be enhanced by employing the technological capabilities a corporate data warehouse brings. The aim will be to improve both the user experience and the presentation of the reports.

The project has 16 work streams looking at different aspects of reporting across the University such as Research, Teaching Quality and Admissions. While there will be a phased start for each of the work streams, they will run concurrently during the project lifetime and beyond.

A data warehouse is never finished and requires an evolutionary approach. Whilst the project will facilitate the initial infrastructure build and deliver a great deal of reporting capability, it will need constant review to ensure that the reporting responds to any changes in requirements. Also, post project additional reporting will be built incrementally to address the University’s emerging management information needs and the establishment of well-governed and structured corporate data in one location will aid the creation of this in the future.

Dr. Rhiannon Birch, Director of Planning and Insight, is the project sponsor and a dedicated project team which includes external technical consultants has been recruited to deliver this critical project.

She said: "This project will realise a much needed centralised, timely and fit for purpose management information reporting platform and presents an opportunity to review and improve how reporting supports our activities and decision-making. More than that, the creation of the corporate data warehouse will allow the University to benefit from the implementation of more effective and efficient reporting developments by adopting a new approach to how we process, manage, report and critically use management information across the institution."

Initially, the project team will work with the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) within Professional Services to establish the core reporting themes and products within each work stream. Stakeholder focus groups will then be established to gather requirements for individual reports.

Input from colleagues across the University is vital to ensure the project’s success. The team need to know what management information you need to ensure that the project provides you with access to a fit-for-purpose equivalent in the future.

If you are interested in contributing to the MI reporting requirements for a particular work stream, or want to find out more about the project, please contact: datawarehouse@sheffield.ac.uk

A new process for management information reporting

This chart shows how management information reporting will work during and after the project. 

Chart showing the new process