With the support of a A$2 million (NZ$2.3 million) federal government grant, three Australian universities have formed a partnership with the Infohrm Group to develop an integrated dashboard for resource management, planning and productivity.
The grant was made available under the Workplace Productivity Programme which was introduced to encourage higher education providers to strengthen their capability to manage workplace change.
Officially dubbed the Integrated Dashboard for Universities, project participants include the University of Southern Queensland, Australian Catholic University and Swinburne University of Technology.
The project's goal is to deliver an analytical reporting solution across various levels of university management and facilitate effective information-based decision-making which promotes flexibility, productivity and performance.
In particular, the project will focus on systems development and integration to enable rapid identification of areas of strength and weakness for specific improvement, including resource allocations, responsiveness, business decision-making and service delivery quality. Five broad areas of data will be captured and integrated, including human resources, finance, student, research and facilities.
Participating universities will have the capacity to deliver powerful cross-functional business intelligence to each of the individual universities as well as the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST). The underlying web-based technology that will be used for the dashboard has been developed by Infohrm over the past 10 years and implemented in more than 200 organisations worldwide.
In the past, Infohrm has worked separately with each of the three universities to develop and deliver a series of workforce reports and analytic measures of productivity and performance.
It will now use the collective knowledge gained from implementation of the web-based platform to develop the integrated dashboard.
University of Southern Queensland group manager of human resources and corporate services, John Pearson, says the organisation has worked with Infohrm during the past four years developing a prototype. Pearson was impressed with Infohrm's capability to apply its underlying workforce technology to university data such as student records and financial data.
"As a result, we're now looking forward to the benefits that a new information driven approach will bring the sector in strategic direction-setting and benchmarking analysis," he says.
When it is fully operational, Pearson expects an improvement in cross-faculty and cross-courses collaboration.
This includes an increased understanding of facilities utilisation and costing, internal benchmarking of performance between faculties, information to assist in better course design and redesign and improved university marketing strategies.
As well as being more cost-effective, the dashboard will enable a better mix of academic staff by discipline and provide supplementary information to support decision-making for grants and funding submissions.
Infohrm managing director, Anastasia Ellerby, says over the past 10 years, Australian universities have made major capital decisions in implementing various information systems across different functional areas.
"Currently, these operational systems have a strong transactional processing focus and, consequently, reporting functionality is generically more geared towards operational requirements than integrated cross-domain analysis," Ellerby says. "Sourcing, integration and consolidation of data from multiple heterogeneous operational systems is the key to delivering powerful cross-functional business intelligence to each of the universities and DEST."
Headquartered in Brisbane, the Infohrm Group's public sector clients include Air Services Australia, Australian National Audit Office, Australian Customs Service, Brisbane City Council, Centrelink and the Reserve Bank of Australia.