Faster, Cleaner, More Complete Access to Student Data
Application developers have eliminated the need to spend time on reporting components because they are using Tableau as the reporting front-end.
“For each application solution that we put out there, we are cutting at least half of the time off of it by having a companion Tableau workbook,” says Haveard. “We’re talking 4 to 5 weeks of time saved per application.”
"They're not just saying 'I need a report.' They're saying 'I need a Tableau report.'"
Developers include a URL parameter within the application that links to the individual student. The Tableau visualization then includes that URL as an action, enabling users to navigate directly to individuals’ update pages.
“Our web application is slimmed down with a lot less application development needed. That definitely frees the application developers to do more important things—Tableau takes it all away.”
And the business users are so pleased that they have begun to request reports specifically in Tableau, according to Haveard
“They're not just saying, ‘I need a report.’ They're saying, ‘I need a Tableau report.’ They already know that they need all the bells and whistles, and they need the ability to drill down to an individual—they need all of that.”
Complete Views of Cleaner Data
UWF is also using Tableau to enable a complete view of student data—no matter where it resides.
“We were able to blend the data in Tableau, using the students’ UWF IDs. So we can keep working during this transition,” says Haveard.
And what would they have done if Tableau didn’t allow this data blending? “I think we would have just been pivot table happy. We would have had to try to do stuff in Excel with pivot tables, which would have been not nearly as effective—I can't even imagine!” Haveard exclaims.
Finally, visualizing the data before converting it is helping the team spot incorrect data entries.
“The errors pop right out of the data,” says Haveard. “You can tell when there are problems—it's just immediately evident.”
For example, when producing a VP-level view of incoming student GPAs, the team realized that the range included 393—an impossible score in a 4.0 scale. They were able to correct that metric to the correct 3.93—and avoid a falsely-inflated average.
“When we’re working with cleaner data on the front-end, then we can make better decisions,” Haveard points out.
Haveard and her team continue to expand their intentions for Tableau at UWF. Soon, they hope to begin visualizing graduate assistant’s grades, department assignments, and assistantship award amounts. They are also planning to use Tableau to support retention studies in order to extend the benefits of the university’s recruiting dollars.