BACKGROUND: The California Community College (CCC) system of two-year public institutions is comprised of 106 statewide colleges organized into 71 districts serving more than 2.2 million students per year and represents the largest post secondary education system in the world.

PLATFORMS: Brio Enterprise runs on Windows 16 or 32-bit platforms, Mac or Power Mac System 7 or later versions and in a host of UNIX environments including Sun Solaris, IBM AIX and HP-UX.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The chancellor's office of CCC needed a solution that would successfully meet the requirements of the "Student Right-To-Know" program (SRTK), a federally mandated program requiring colleges nationwide to publish completion and transfer-rate statistics for enrolled full-time, degree-seeking freshmen. SRTK is a program designed to study and measure the academic outcome of freshmen over a period of time. CCC needed to provide data to each college in the system, allowing them to publish SRTK statistics by January, 2000. The chancellor's office also needed a solution that would allow us to locally house, access and analyze student information. Previously, the office relied on the State of California's centralized, offsite Stephen P. Teale Data Center to house student demographic and enrollment information. The chancellor's office needed to more effectively evaluate complex links between student information such as how student academic performance can be linked to demographics and course medium (for example, comparing Web-based versus campus-based courses).

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: End users across the organization ­ both in the chancellor's office and at the colleges ­ use Brio Enterprise for its graphical query capability and easy-to-use front end. The GUI interface allows relationships between tables and fields to be quickly understood. Users can quickly get results, export to other formats or make comparisons using the Pivot tab.

STRENGTHS: Brio products are optimal for the CCC system because they operate on NT, Windows 95/98 and Mac platforms. We can easily deploy data to our field users. Brio provides portability of data, tables and entire queries that can be created at one college and distributed to all colleges to be run against each college's own data. Brio has a consistent desktop and Web-based interface, a quick learning curve and most users can be productive with one day of training. The products connect to a multitude of back ends, including ASCII comma- or tab-delimited text, PC databases and client/server data warehouses. Query results are exportable into many formats and the BrioQuery footprint is small, easy to setup and administer.

WEAKNESSES: We're glad that Brio has greatly enhanced its report designer capabilities in Brio Enterprise 6.0. Previously, we were challenged with the funtionality of the tool.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected Brio Enterprise for its ability to access a wide variety of data sets including Microsoft Access/Excel files and .csv files ­ the data format we provide to each college for SRTK. The tool operates on Windows 95, NT and Macintosh and provides one consistent look and feel, regardless of platform. Brio Enterprise integrates query, reporting and analysis functionality in one tool unlike competing solutions.

DELIVERABLES: Brio Enterprise allows faster, more detailed analysis of student data at reduced cost because data doesn't have to be provided by the data center. Previously, each CPU cycle for queries had a cost and results were provided only in hard-copy format. For the first time, the chancellor's office can now distribute the appropriate data to each college. SRTK program data is compiled into a local SQL Server 6.5 (soon to be 7.0) warehouse and disseminated to each college for disclosure of graduation and transfer rates.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Brio's sales team was more accessible and responsive to our needs than other vendors. We purchased two days of support from Brio that we didn't need because the tool was so easy to implement. The Brio training staff was knowledgeable and accommodating, and technical support is available to us via e-mail and the Web ­ usually with answers to our questions within 24 hours.

DOCUMENTATION: Brio's on-line help is a useful quick reference, and paper manuals provide help for learning product capabilities. We haven't used our on-line help or manuals often because the product is easy to learn.

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