CATEGORY: Data Quality, Profiling & Augmentation
REVIEWER: Carrie Donaldson, director of administrative systems for Southern Methodist University.
BACKGROUND: Located just a few miles from downtown Dallas, Southern Methodist University (SMU) is a private university with more than 10,000 students. The University is comprised of six schools, including a law school, and offers academic and professional degrees in a wide range of disciplines from literature to engineering. In addition to student records, SMU has approximately 3,750 employee records and 28,000 alumni, parent, friends and other records that are managed in its database.
PLATFORMS: The university's enterprise computing environment consists of multiprocessor Sun Solaris Servers running Oracle, and a collection of HP ProLiant servers running Windows 2000 Server for file, print, Web and application services. PeopleSoft manages student records and all data for SMU's human resource department and its financial systems, in addition to handling development and contributor relations data.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Migrating to PeopleSoft brought significant advantages to SMU. Chief among them is that information from a variety of disparate sources is now stored in a central repository. As a result, any authorized administrator has fast and efficient access to records and can easily modify them or create new ones as needed. The new ease with which employees share data now also made it possible for employees to inadvertently create multiple records in the system for any student or faculty member. When new information such as grades or financial aid data was entered into the system, new information would only be entered into one of the two records, leaving neither record complete nor accurate. Administrators noted that the problem escalated as more information was added over a period of time. In addition, the complexity of the system including the number of administrators accessing data, the diverse information involved and the vast number of records can produce numerous duplicate records in unexpected ways. Identifying the duplicate records was extremely difficult. Once identified, consolidating duplicate information into a single view was another challenge.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: SMU is using Firstlogic's Information Quality Suite for student address cleansing, standardization, consolidation and verification.
STRENGTHS: Firstlogic Information Quality Suite provides superior data matching and consolidation capabilities. In addition, the product's tight integration with PeopleSoft Higher Education solutions through its Data Quality Link for PeopleSoft enables us to provide seamless data quality capabilities into our environment.
WEAKNESSES: Our original version of Data Quality Link for PeopleSoft was a relatively new product and, like most new products, had good basic functionality but lacked some of the "bells and whistles" that end users can envision. Firstlogic has been proactive in incorporating many of the "nice to haves" in the latest version.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Firstlogic's software was a perfect fit for SMU because in addition to having critical functionality the University was looking for, the product's unique Data Quality Link for PeopleSoft made integration into the existing system seamless and efficient. Firstlogic has a great reputation, and we were very impressed with the product's data matching and consolidation capabilities. We have been very pleased with the performance of the solution.
DELIVERABLES: In mid-2002, SMU integrated Firstlogic's Information Quality Suite. In the fall of 2003, SMU upgraded to the latest version. Not only does the solution pinpoint the University's problematic duplicates with great precision, but it also consolidates our records, keeping all or part of the records based on business rules and criteria specified by the University. Firstlogic's software also has brought other data quality benefits, some of which have an even more immediate effect on the University's bottom line. Both the Admissions and Development departments do many bulk mailings. We were looking for a product that would standardize our addresses to decrease our postal costs because PeopleSoft does not provide that functionality. Firstlogic's software meets our needs within PeopleSoft, and also gives us the ability to process standalone databases that are not part of the PeopleSoft system. For example, we could potentially scrub the addresses for every database on campus, a project that we may implement in the future. Working hand-in-hand with PeopleSoft, Firstlogic's Information Quality Suite brings SMU heightened efficiency as well as direct, bottom-line benefits due to the efficiency that information quality brings to the University.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Our experiences with Firstlogic have been extremely positive. Most questions and problems are handled through their customer support Web site. Their Web site and customer portal are easy to use and very efficient.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is thorough, clear, precise and useful.
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