UCL News


Introducing the UCL Data & Insights Service

15 September 2017

The UCL Data & Insight Service will launch in October 2017.

Quad The Data & Insight (D&I) Service aims to improve decision-making in support of UCL's academic mission. It will provide dashboards and visualisations that are up-to-date, intuitive and engaging, to help academic and professional services staff make better evidence-based decisions.

The Service is built on four elements:

· A transparent service with customers at the heart

· Sound governance

· Effective technology

· A data and insight culture

D&I is 'customer-led'. Our 'customers' are UCL academic and professional services staff who use data to make decisions. The governance group that sets direction and prioritises areas for analysis is made up of customers and users, and all dashboards are developed with, and for, customers. Customers have prioritised UG Admissions and Worktribe Pre-award Grants reports in the first instance, and these reports will be delivered first.

One of the design principles of D&I is that all reports must help customers answer questions that are important to them. With that in mind, Admissions tutors, Deans, Faculty managers / Directors of Operations, Faculty tutors, HODs and Admissions staff have been involved in developing the UG Admissions report, while research facilitators, co-ordinators, Faculty managers / Directors of Operations, the OVPR, and Research Services have been involved in developing the Pre-award Grants report. Among other questions, the UG Admissions report will help users answer: "Am I on track to meet my UG Home, EU and International offer targets?" The Worktribe Pre-award Grants report will help users answer: "Am I properly recovering overheads?"

Dashboards on Admissions and Pre-award grants will be offered to a limited group of initial users in the Autumn, as we bed in the new service. As time goes on, the number of users will increase, analyses will become broader, and users will be trained and empowered to carry out analysis themselves.

The scope of the D&I service is not limited to Students and Research; it will expand to include any area that requires better visualisation of better data to improve decision-making in support of the academic mission. There may be instances when data is not available, or is of poor-quality; one aim of D&I is to help colleagues implement strong data management processes. As well as being customer-led and question-focussed, all reports will be transparent: the source and quality of the data, and the definitions of calculations and terms used within, will be clearly stated, and clear feedback mechanisms will be available.

A new data-warehouse has been built by ISD, which will facilitate rapid and secure delivery of up-to-date and accurate data. The first reports will be delivered through the data-warehouse, using a self-service visualisation tool called Tableau, which is used by HESA, HEFCE, Jisc, and many other HEIs. Tableau can be used with any browser and on any device.

Customers have already identified around 40 potential areas for analysis, traversing estates and space, planning, teaching and education, information services, enterprise, finance and human resources. Another aim of D&I is to improve data and analysis expertise throughout UCL, and subject-matter experts in different business areas will lead development of insightful dashboards in their areas. A Community of Practice of Data & Insight expert analysts has been formed and trained in Tableau, and will take forward projects to improve data-quality, visualisation best-practice, and help instil a culture of evidence-based decision-making throughout UCL.

How can you get involved?

If you would like to learn more about the D&I service, or see Tableau in action, please get in touch with the Data & Insight team to arrange a visit to your team meeting.

Drop-in sessions have also been arranged throughout October. If you would like to attend, or if you have a question you need insight on, please let us know.

To learn more about the D&I Service, please see our website.