Expands their Reporting Capabilities with Argos & the Evisions CO-OP User Community
University Of Leeds
Before adopting the Argos Enterprise Reporting Solution from Evisions, the University of Leeds (Leeds) had two methods of generating reports, both of which suffered from substantial drawbacks.
First, there was a collection of reports created during the implementation of the Banner® by Ellucian® student information system in 2001. The level of skill required to create or modify those reports was in short supply at the university. Thus, the Leeds reporting staff adopted a second method: generating basic reports ad hoc, using an ODBC connection to pull in data from Banner. Unfortunately, all this reporting was done at the department level, and there was no standardization from one user to the next.
The University of Leeds needed an intuitive, configurable solution that was centrally developed and maintained, yet available to the entire reporting community.
After attending a product demonstration, Leeds’ reporting staff realized that Argos presented a solution that suited their needs. Leeds first began using Argos within the Student Administration (Registrar’s) Office. The changeover to Argos reporting started with just a couple of developers, but progressed quickly, thanks to the Evisions CO-OP User Community. Instead of having to start from scratch, Leeds was able to download and modify pre-built DataBlocks—structures used within Argos to organize data and make it available for report building. Being able to start with pre-built DataBlocks saved the developers a lot of time and meant they could begin producing reports almost immediately.
The Leeds reporting team began to introduce Argos to the student administrative community gradually. Holding a series of small road shows at different venues across campus, they demonstrated what was possible with Argos and how different users fit into the reporting community. The online training supplied by Evisions negated the need for institution-wide training courses, which would have been a substantial burden on the university’s training resources. By taking a light touch with the rollout, the novice report developers avoided being inundated with simultaneous requests from across campus.
One area that benefited significantly from the move to Argos was the Student Services Centre’s customer counter. Previously, students would come to the counter and order letters—for example, bank letters, council tax letters and statements—and then return to the counter 3-5 days later to pick them up. With Argos, those letters are now an on-demand service, available at the push of a button.
Another example relates to Leeds’ implementation of Banner by Ellucian Graduation Management, which was used to produce degree certificates. The original process was quite convoluted, involving multiple ODBC databases, mail merges and days’ worth of manual editing. Argos, on the other hand, is able to pull the data from Banner, format the certificates and send them directly to the printer. In addition, Leeds uses Argos to manage all the ceremony logistics, as well as emailing invites to the post-ceremony parties.
More recently, the reporting staff have made greater use of some of Argos’ more advanced features, such as scheduled jobs. The ability to automate report generation is advantageous in a number of ways. Not only does it ease the users’ workload, but it also relieves stress on the servers, by running large reports during off hours. In addition, Argos’ scheduling feature enables automated emails, which otherwise would not have occurred. For example, any time the university receives an application, Argos sends an email on behalf of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor’s office, thanking the person for applying—not a task easily accomplished by hand.
The Evisions CO-OP Community provided a vital jumping off point for Leeds when they were new to Argos. Now, several years later, Leeds has been able to take that foundation and build on it—streamlining, automating, and extending their reporting capabilities all across campus.