REVIEWER: Dr. Charles Burmeister, CIO for Alamo Community College District.
BACKGROUND: The Alamo Community College District (ACCD) serves the Bexar County, Texas, community through its programs and services that help students succeed in acquiring the knowledge and skills needed in today's world. Students are taught by highly qualified faculty with masters and doctorate degrees dedicated to creating a learning-centered environment. The four colleges - San Antonio, St. Philip's, Palo Alto and Northwest Vista - offer associate degrees, certificates and licensures in occupational programs that prepare students for jobs, as well as arts and science courses that transfer to four-year colleges and universities. In 2004-2005, the Alamo Community College District served 102,837 students.
PLATFORMS: SAS Enterprise BI Server is running on Windows 2003 Server with two servers currently in production.
PROBLEM SOLVED: In 2004, the four colleges in the ACCD joined a national initiative called "Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count" to increase the success of the nation's community college students, with a focus on helping students from groups traditionally underserved in higher education. As part of this initiative, ACCD made a commitment to improve the success of underserved students on their campuses, to use data to guide their decisions and to share the lessons they learn so that students in other institutions and states can benefit. Because this initiative placed a heavy emphasis on data, ACCD needed a strong reporting platform to put student data and other strategic information in front of administrators and faculty in each of the district's colleges. In addition, the ACCD was seeking an enterprise-wide business intelligence (BI) platform to provide all the reporting for an ERP project that was under way.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The solution provides ACCD with a single reporting platform across the entire enterprise for access and presentation of data and information. SAS Web Report Studio, a part of the SAS Enterprise BI Server, provides a dashboard of key metrics where casual users can perform ad hoc queries on their own. With the SAS Enterprise Guide component, administrative power users can develop and run reports to better understand student success rates and identify programs that might affect student completion and persistence. Overall, the key benefit for ACCD is being able to put the users of this data and information into an ownership role so that they can access and develop their own reports as needed.
STRENGTHS: SAS Enterprise BI Server provides a complete set of tools, capabilities and power that helps ACCD meet all the data needs of our customers, which range from the chancellor to the office clerk. Also, SAS has always been known for its strong statistical capabilities.
WEAKNESSES: Initially, we had some problems with printing and performance issues in the earlier version of Web Report Studio, but when we upgraded to the new version, those issues were resolved.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We were aware of other vendors in the business intelligence systems market, and our goal was to move toward a platform that was truly integrated from end to end. We looked at other products, but we had previous experience working with SAS and it was a natural evolution for us to take this step. We had a pleasant experience before, and because SAS has been committed to the education world for a long time, it has been a good relationship.
DELIVERABLES: With SAS, ACCD developed a complete set of new reports for the finance division - not an easy task, considering that all the existing reports had to be recreated and modified. For the Achieving the Dream initiative, our overall goal was to get information to the fingertips of users and into their minds, and having a series of reports that anyone can run from the Web has helped us achieve that.
VENDOR SUPPORT: SAS has been quite responsive and provided very good support for us. We've worked with SAS on site and over the phone. They have good people who are customer friendly and flexible.
DOCUMENTATION: Although ACCD primarily used support from SAS to get started with the product, the documentation was complete and easy to understand. Additional available resources are online and have been developed by a large pool of SAS users.
SAS Enterprise BI Server
100 SAS Campus Drive
Cary, NC 27513-2414
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