Organizing and cataloging our academic and student data is a central focus of the Student Sunrise project and directly supports our mission to use information to understand and support the needs of our community.
Our team is partnering with WashU’s Office of Data Governance (ODG) to develop common naming conventions, define key terms and share definitions in a central, accessible location.
What is data governance?
Data governance is an institutional approach to managing our data as a strategic asset.
The university’s data governance program supports a robust, innovative, shared decision-making framework that leverages our people, processes and technology to effectively and properly manage our data. In 2019, the university established the Office of Data Governance to lead this initiative.
Prior to the ODG, the university struggled to answer basic questions about our data like “what data is available?” and “where do I find it?” As we move forward, the ODG’s strategic vision is to ensure that the university’s data is accurate, accessible and understood.
Data: a strategic asset
A core focus of the Office of Data Governance is to educate and implement a structure that allows cross-functional participation in the data governance process. To this end, the ODG is mobilizing data stewards* across the university’s 10 data domains*.
“In treating data as a strategic asset, we can deliver consistent and trusted data to help answer important questions faster and empower our leaders at all levels to make informed decisions,” says Jane Largen-Ruzicka, director of the ODG. “Executing this strategy requires careful coordination of our people, processes and technologies working together to manage the highest quality and utmost security of our data.”
Data stewards help ensure data consistency, accuracy and quality. Effective stewardship is a collaboration and a shared responsibility between the schools and units, WashU IT, the ODG and anyone who interacts with data.
A data domain groups together data related to a common purpose, object or concept. WashU’s data domains include student, instruction and student engagement, among others.
Data governance & Workday
Consistent terminology supports unified processes and quality reporting in Workday. Workday will introduce new terms that we need to define. We also need to create common definitions for some existing terms.
HCM & Finance
The Data Governance Office’s first domain assignments were supporting the MyDay program’s launch of Workday Human Capital Management & Finance in July 2021. The ODG led the initiative to identify and collect key terms used in Workday reports and partnered with campus subject matter experts to validate and document their definitions. They also helped the MyDay team develop standards for report names and descriptions, ensuring these standards were met as new reports were built.
The ODG now holds a similar partnership with the Student Sunrise project. Largen-Ruzicka leads this alignment with the project’s process lead, Mecca Baker, to ensure the team follows best practices in data governance throughout the implementation of Workday Student.
To build the Student glossary, the Student Sunrise project team members identify key terms while configuring Workday Student.
For example, one key change from the current state to Workday relates to the definition of “matriculation.” In Workday, matriculation happens once an application is finalized and the student has accepted the offer. Today, WashU (and FERPA) consider matriculation to occur on the first day of class. This means we’ll have two definitions of matriculation in the future: Workday Matriculation and FERPA Matriculation, the latter of which will continue to be the law we follow. So, in this case, we’ve captured both definitions to help ensure those working with the data understand the term’s complexities and the various ways it may be used.
In addition to defining key terms, the Student Sunrise project is working with the ODG to establish common typologies in Workday.
A key example is our advisors. Today, there are more than nine different types of advisors at the university with little alignment on the understanding of each advisor’s functions. The Student Sunrise project team is developing common definitions for our various advisor types, which will help create a shared understanding of each advisor’s role in supporting students. Clearly defined advisor typologies also are critical to the successful configuration of Workday, particularly when it comes to granting advisors appropriate access to student data.
After outlining new term definitions and typologies, the Sunrise team sends them to the ODG for validation and publication.
The ODG houses definitions in Collibra, a tool that acts as the source of truth for our data definitions and helps drive consistent data and terminology across the university.
“The efficiencies gained from Workday will have monumental benefits in data quality, integration and reporting capabilities,” says Largen-Ruzicka. “My job is to make sure that we aid the Student Sunrise project in organizing our data to the best of our ability.”