Encouraging Collaboration with Streamlined Reporting from Argos

West Virginia Network




Institutions In Network

The Challenge

The West Virginia Network for Educational Telecomputing (WVNet) is a data center that provides software services to universities, colleges and technical schools around the state. After WVNet implemented Banner by Ellucian® in 2005, its member schools started to work with various reporting systems. Some were using a 3rd party product, while others were writing straight SQL code to run reports. In most cases, the institutions were developing and running their reporting initiatives independently.

Although the individual reporting solutions were giving the schools the data they needed, it was very difficult to collaborate among institutions. It quickly became clear to WVNet that everyone would benefit from using a unified system that could be hosted centrally. In addition, with West Virginia being a small state with more limited resources, a centralized, collaborative reporting solution had the potential to save the member schools money on licensing fees and time on report development.

The Solution

Evisions’ Argos Enterprise Reporting Solution had already become the go-to reporting tool at many of WVNet’s member institutions, so choosing Argos as the network’s primary reporting tool was a no-brainer. Since Argos offered the ability to host the solution centrally on WVNet servers, while allowing licensed schools to access the tool via the cloud, it was a good fit for WVNet’s needs. WVNet implemented Argos in April 2012.

Now, WVNet hosts Argos for 14 of the network’s 24 member institutions with more planned. The schools—particularly those that had been using straight SQL to build their reports—have dramatically increased the number of reports they are able to produce, all the while saving time and money. For example, Northern Community College estimates that switching to Argos saved the college $10,000 annually, and users have saved countless hours of development time by creating dashboards that combine multiple reports. In one notable case at the school’s Office of Institutional Research, an Argos user was able to combine 14 reports into one dashboard.

Argos has not only streamlined reporting at member schools, but it has also been beneficial for administrative tasks. At Bluefield State College the staff was able to simplify one of their common administrative tasks using a custom Argos dashboard. The database administrators were able to tie Argos in with several PL/SQL packages to create a dashboard for managing administrative user accounts. From there, the college’s Help Desk staff can create accounts, manage user groups and reset passwords from within Argos, which is a big time saver.

On top of saving money and time for WVNet member schools, Argos has created a culture of openness and transparency among its participating institutions. WVNet hosts Argos training sessions a few times a year to bring in administrators and users from schools in its network. Even more importantly, by bringing in reporting staff from multiple institutions, WVNet has been able to foster a collaborative reporting culture across the network. They’ve seen their member schools start sharing ideas, projects, and even DataBlocks during and after the training session. Now, Argos users, some of whom were entirely new to SQL, are able to build fairly sophisticated reports on their own very quickly.

WVNet achieved the money savings and collaboration they desired by centralizing their reporting, and now looks to further improve their reporting and administrative capabilities.

My staff found Argos very easy to learn and found it helpful that users have the choice of using the query builder or straight SQL code. This assisted with the migration of existing reports and enabled my newer staff to learn the Banner tables easily. The free online training and the ability to download dashboards from the CO-OP are wonderful features. I had a few users who were very apprehensive about the change; however, they are now some of my heaviest users.
Pam Woods

Director of Institutional Research, Northern Community College

Argos has created a collaborative environment between schools, who are now able to share DataBlocks and resources. People are calling each other. We’ve got the technical gear in place, so now people can push the envelope because they’re challenged by what other colleges are doing.
Dana Keith

Manager of Applications, West Virginia Network

We have found that most times, creating reports in Argos has been quicker and more robust than building native Banner reports. Argos has saved our school money by making our reporting more efficient and by putting the tool into our end users’ hands, thereby lessening the number of reports generated directly from our office. Argos easily creates professional, detailed reports that would have normally taken multiple steps to implement.
Delano Sweeney

Database Systems Manager, Bluefield State College

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