Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS)
UNIMAS is a prominent institution of higher learning with MS ISO 9001:2000 certification. UNIMAS has the long-term vision of becoming a university of distinction with international renown in terms of academic scholarship, teaching and research. UNIMAS had been awarded Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) on 17th November 2003 status due to high emphasis towards technology and also serving as recognition for UNIMAS as a developer of human assets through strategic learning and training programmes for MSC and related needs.
UNIMAS realized that one of the key factors in achieving successful and sustainable development of the institution was through utilizing Business Intelligence (BI) tools to provide solutions for the purpose of data analysis as well as coordinating, monitoring and assessment of key performance indicators (KPI). Such a tool is also invaluable in strategy implementation based on informed decision making as well. The search for a Business Intelligence and Performance Management system was also in line with their intention to initiate the Intelligent Mining and Decision Support System (InMinds) and Performance Management System (PerforMs) project.
- Business Intelligence
UNIMAS encountered difficulty in performing analysis to achieved desired results. For example, users were unable to perform analysis of a non-performing student or a list of students of certain courses in a faculty as well as the correlation between the students’ performance with the lecturers in-charge. There was also too much inefficiency and hassle associated with collecting and submitting data to and from various parties. This was a result of no centralized system to integrate all data from various data sources such as MySQL, MSSQL, Lotus Notes and many more. Measuring KPI was also cumbersome and problematic as data needs to be collected from all faculties by the Quality Assurance Department (QAD). The problem is further exacerbated when considering that there are more than 30 KPIs in total.
- Performance Management System (PMS)
The heads of departments were required to submit action plans to improve KPI performance. This submission required approval from top management before continuing further. When this process was based on paper, it was highly inefficient and redundant as the action plans may have to undergo numerous iterations of the workflow before being finalized.
One of the numerous problems faced was the inability of obtaining and viewing specific information for analysis. To add to the problems, there was over-reliance on manual processes and labour-intensive operations in collecting data and submitting it to different parties. With such a method employed, satisfying requests for reports or initiating changes in certain forms or workflows would not be conducted in a satisfactory manner. Essentially, there was no centralized system that was dedicated to providing ubiquitous information access as well as tools that were able to collect and measure as well as analyze numerous KPIs from numerous departments.
The Speedminer Solution
- Centralized BI
The Speedminer system was implemented as the central repository for all data collected from various sources. Through the Ensemble Integration Platform, Speedminer was able to extract and consolidate all the data from various sources. All sorts of data could be extracted with ease, as well as given complicated analysis from different perspectives and angles due to the user-friendly and interactive environment. Through the Speedminer data entry form, all data submission and retrieval became automated, greatly easing the workload of users while also promoting efficiency in a less paper-intensive work environment.
Integration was also conducted with the Anjung UNIMAS (Portal) system, to further enhance user accessibility. This integration involved sharing the security ID from the LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) server, whereby Speedminer could authorize user sessions based on requirements. As Speedminer is a web-based solution, development and access of the system is conveniently available through Web browsers. With safeguards in place to guarantee security, users can access the system regardless of location and time.
Provided BI capabilities for the InMinds (Intelligent Data Mining and Decision Support System) and PerforMs (Performance Management System) projects.
Improving data collection and KPI measurements through embedded BI functions.
Integration for Anjung UNIMAS (Portal) system to produce a consolidated information environment across all departments.
In-depth KPI monitoring through Speed Scorecard and Strategy Map.
Sample BI analysis reports include student intake for Faculty, Student CGPA results based on gender as well as Statistics of Academic staff based on qualification by gender and Teaching Budget Expenditure from the Management system.
This greatly simplified analysis, encouraging user acceptance and adoption of the system through intuitive and user-friendly interfaces which employ point-and-click as well as drag-and-drop controls which empower users instead of forcing users to rely on IT professionals. Data analysis and monitoring was made more coherent, applicable and available through Speed Analyzer.
The consolidation of the information environment meant easy access across all levels. This encouraged user acceptance and participation in using the system. Overall operational efficiency grew by leaps and bounds due to better collaboration and synchronization of data between departments.
The KPIs for UNIMAS were formulated based on specific objectives. Each KPI consists of objectives, KPIs, targets and frequencies identified for each KPI. For instance, based on the strategic objective of developing competent staff, specific KPIs were formed, namely the percentage of staff receiving UNIMAS recognition per year as the marks obtained by academic staff should be the indicator of the competency of the academic staff. Through well-defined and visible KPIs, there was greater alignment between departments and employees in achieving strategic goals and objectives. The Speedminer PMS module contributed to greater alignment between UNIMAS activities and the vision and mission statements of the institution. Internal and external communication was greatly improved, and monitoring of performance against strategic goals was no longer a chore. The calculation of KPI results became automated and was based on a real-time environment. Whenever a KPI was not performing up to expectations, Speedminer allowed for root-cause analysis, and this consequently improved decision-making for UNIMAS staff.
For instance, based on the strategic objective of achieving high graduate employability, the driver measure for this aspect was the percentage of employer satisfaction survey, based on the percentage of UNIMAS graduates who managed to obtain employment by the time of graduation.
From the Strategy Map, the Speed Scorecard is used to list all KPIs and their corresponding scores, colour icons as well as changes from the last time period. From Speed Scorecard, users can also drill down to the composites of the KPI which includes the KPI value by different faculties or other dimensions. For example, under the financial perspective, users could access the outcome measures of ratio of expenditure on students over total number of students for the strategic objective of Student Related Expenditure Optimization. Or, from the perspective of the customer, under the strategic objective of Achieving the Recognition of Reputable Research, users could display specific outcome measures such as the number of research awards received.
The calculation of KPI results effectively became automated and was based on a real-time environment. Whenever a KPI was not performing up to expectations, Speedminer allowed for root-cause analysis, and this consequently improved decision-making for UNIMAS staff.
To cater to the informational needs of top management on a timely basis, information was given greater visual coherence in terms of colour codes to alert users to conforming and non-conforming events. This was also part of the broader intelligent alert systems within the module, which issued warnings or notices when events fall outside the user-defined threshold value. For example, the dashboard showed student information as well as overall GPA performance instead of forcing users to source for such data through other lengthy means.
Greater monitoring and managerial control was realized as instead of adopting a passive approach to measuring and tracking of performance, users at the managerial level were given the capability of assigning tasks from the scorecard which could also be monitored or redirected further.
Through the Speed Form builder, easy workflow applications development and building custom pages finally became a tangible reality. With the Speed Form builder, the process of submitting reports and seeking approvals became electronically automated due to the use of the workflow applications and custom-built pages meant specifically for the action plan. Now even the budgets required for each action plan would be computed in an automated manner, with periodic tracking of output progress. It has been shown that with the unification of data in a consolidated environment, UNIMAS is well-equipped to pursue unlimited possibilities