Webster University lays the foundation for better information management

Building an accurate picture of enterprise data with IBM

Published on 11-Jul-2013

"We are a small IT team and did not have the specialist knowledge to take on this kind of rigorous data profiling and quality assurance work, so having an experienced partner like IBM to lead the effort was a huge advantage." - Margie Muthukumaru, Director of Enterprise Information Systems, Webster University

Customer:
Webster University

Industry:
Education

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
Enterprise Resource Planning, Information Governance, Information Management Foundation

Overview

Established in 1915, Webster University (Webster) is a private American higher education institution with its main campus in Webster Groves, Missouri, and more than 100 locations around the world. The university offers undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 20,000 students in a wide array of disciplines.

Business need:
Webster University (Webster) needed to gain a clearer picture of its existing enterprise data structures and relationships, to help guide its selection of a strategic ERP platform for the future.

Solution:
Webster engaged the IBM India Lab Services Team to analyze the university’s existing data structures and conduct in-depth data quality assessments, using a suite of IBM® InfoSphere® solutions.

Benefits:
Provides Webster with a deeper understanding of its business data and improves overall data quality, delivering a solid foundation for future ERP solution selection and implementation.

Case Study

Established in 1915, Webster University (Webster) is a private American higher education institution with its main campus in Webster Groves, Missouri, and more than 100 locations around the world. The university offers undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 20,000 students in a wide array of disciplines.

Webster works continuously to deliver a high-quality, student-centered learning experience that prepares graduates for the future on a global level. To help drive strong student outcomes and to manage all aspects of the higher education experience, Webster relies on Jenzabar CX—an integrated ERP solution designed specifically for higher education institutions.

The solution is used by some 1,500 administrative and academic staff to manage information at every stage in the student lifecycle and streamline business operations through a complete suite of end-to-end modules and a common IBM Informix database.

Building a better picture of business information

The university has relied on the Jenzabar ERP for more than 25 years, and the application has been heavily modified and customized over the years to meet Webster’s unique needs.

Margie Muthukumaru, Director of Enterprise Information Systems at Webster University, explains, “We are currently at a decision point with our existing Jenzabar ERP solution. The vendor recently announced the release of a completely new system, which means that we will have to consider some form of migration in the near future. We wanted to determine whether upgrading to this new Jenzabar ERP solution was the best option for us, or whether a move to a different vendor’s ERP solution made more sense.”

This development presented Webster with the ideal opportunity to undertake a comprehensive analysis of its enterprise data, to evaluate the quality of existing data and to learn more about how data is being used in different processes. With this knowledge, the university will be much better informed when it comes to making the decision about implementing a new ERP platform.

Selecting IBM

Webster engaged the IBM India Lab Services Team to provide the technical skills and experience needed to successfully guide the project. Muthukumaru says, “IBM was our first and only choice—we appreciate the reputation that IBM has established in both the technology and higher education spaces, and were confident that IBM could deliver a solution that met our needs.”

IBM proposed implementing BM InfoSphere Information Server (including capabilities provided by InfoSphere Discovery and InfoSphere Information Analyzer) to automate data analysis and provide a deeper understanding of Webster’s data patterns.

“When the project team first showed us the IBM InfoSphere solutions, and explained more about how they worked, it sounded too good to be true,” notes Muthukumaru. “We wanted to be absolutely certain that the software could deliver what we were looking for, so we invited IBM to perform a proof-of-concept, using one of our existing databases. Once we saw what InfoSphere solutions could do first hand, we were sold and moved ahead with a full roll-out.”

Analyzing and assuring data

As a first step, IBM used InfoSphere Information Server’s discovery capabilities to gain a deep understanding of Webster’s enterprise data, including data locations and relationships across different systems. These powerful, automated discovery capabilities reduced the time needed to complete database relationship analysis processes from an anticipated four or five months to just six weeks, helping to ensure timely project completion.

Equipped with a better understanding of the data, the IBM team then used the data quality assessment and monitoring capabilities within InfoSphere Information Server to perform in-depth quality assessments, identifying any data anomalies, enhancing data rule design and defining terms for different data analyses. The enhanced data-anomaly detection provided by InfoSphere Information Server will ensure that Webster’s future ERP platform will be driven by consistent, accurate and reliable data.

“The work that IBM carried out on this project has been invaluable,” states Muthukumaru. “We are a small IT team and did not have the specialist knowledge to take on this kind of rigorous data profiling and quality assurance work, so having an experienced partner like IBM to lead the effort was a huge advantage. IBM brought the right people with the right skills to the project, and the entire process went very smoothly. Our only regret is that we did not do something like this sooner!”

Deeper view of enterprise data

Following its data analysis work, IBM presented Webster with an enterprise data model that provides a comprehensive view of the university’s existing data structure, as well as a data dictionary. Both of these outputs helped IT staff to better understand the attributes of business data and the links between different data structures.

“With the data model and data dictionary, we can clearly see how data is created, used and edited within each of our processes,” explains Muthukumaru. “With this improved picture of the relationships between different systems and data, we can keep a much closer focus on information and ensure that it is consistent.”

Solid foundation for future success

The insights delivered by IBM InfoSphere software have provided Webster with the solid foundation it needs to ensure a successful outcome for its future ERP selection and implementation initiatives. With an improved understanding of its enterprise data, the university will be better equipped to determine the right ERP solution for its needs.

Muthukumaru concludes, “The IBM InfoSphere solutions have absolutely met our requirements for this project, and we are very satisfied with how quickly and effectively IBM worked to deliver a data model that we could understand and really put to good use in the future.

For more information
To learn more about IBM InfoSphere solutions, contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/infosphere

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
InfoSphere Discovery, InfoSphere Information Analyzer, Informix Servers, InfoSphere Information Server Packages, InfoSphere Data Architect

Service:
Software Services for Information Management

Legal Information

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