Making Smarter Decisions with Argos
Northwest Nazarene University
Faced with a difficult decision regarding a costly and time-consuming upgrade to their Business Intelligence (BI) software, Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) wanted to find out if there was an effective and affordable alternative. NNU has been using a single ERP system, Jenzabar CX, for admissions/recruiting, registration, finance, alumni relations and donor relations for over ten years. During this time they have developed literally thousands of reports in their current BI solution. Along with being able to access real-time data, they needed a BI solution that would roll out quickly, be easy to use and work seamlessly with Jenzabar CX. Because the ability to mine and analyze data – and to continually improve this process – was especially important to NNU, they took the time to rethink how well their current reporting tool worked for them. Before NNU decided to invest resources in upgrading the current system or acquire a new BI solution they wanted to be sure the end result would support their needs now and well into the future.
While investigating alternatives that would meet their BI needs, NNU’s Executive Director of IT, Eric Kellerer, and his team discovered Evisions’ Argos Enterprise Reporting Solution. After evaluating the product at no cost, NNU felt confident that Argos was a better long-term solution than upgrading their current system. Since Argos gives end users access via a secure web interface, NNU’s IT staff did not have to install the product on individual PCs – a major time-saver for the IT staff. This made the implementation process quick and easy. In fact, Kellerer was amazed that Argos was installed on their whole campus in a little over an hour. The report conversion process that followed went smoothly as well. After the installation, Evisions worked with NNU and spent a few days training the IT staff on how to use Argos to accomplish their goals. NNU uploaded their finished reports to the Evisions CO-OP User Community – a common repository for report sharing that all Evisions clients can utilize. Before investing the time to develop new reports, NNU can check the CO-OP first to see if something similar has already been created. These reports are easy to download and can be modified to suit the needs of NNU.
NNU immediately took notice of how powerful their new reporting tool was. They particularly liked the Dashboards for graphically displaying information trends and summaries, automated report scheduling and delivery as well as OLAP cubes for analyzing data in multiple dimensions to spot trends and relationships. NNU uses report scheduling and delivery to help their budget officers stay on track while reducing work for the IT department. The IT staff no longer has to periodically generate budget reports and mail them to the other departments, since Argos does this automatically each week. NNU also values the fact that end users can analyze information themselves with graphical interfaces and drag-and-drop data manipulation. Argos creates DataBlocks, or subsets of the ERP system with all data relationships intact, so individual users can access information pertinent to their jobs, sort and filter records and run reports as they wish. The OLAP cubes have proven to be an extremely useful analytical tool for their institution. Users can view and explore records in multiple dimensions to see patterns and ultimately make more insightful decisions. In one case, NNU evaluated donor demographics and the effectiveness of various types of fundraising events. They were able to discern which were most effective in each geographical area. Now they focus fundraising efforts on the events in which donors are most interested, and those that yield the greatest return.
NNU also analyzed five years’ worth of scholarship records to predict scholarship acceptance rates based on factors such as the amount of money offered and academic major. Now the university offers more grants than are available upfront, knowing certain percentages will not accept, and therefore can help people earlier in the admissions process rather than waiting for cancellations.
Remarkably, NNU has implemented all of these improvements and more with Argos in just the four months since the installation. It makes one wonder what they will be able to do with it in the upcoming years.