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March 22, 2024 | Institutional data analytics

5 Tips to Streamline Your Higher Ed Analytics Platform Purchase

Your institution has decided to fund a higher education analytics platform and is gearing up for a purchase. However, this decision to invest is just the beginning. Even once you've assessed the options, the path to procurement is not always smooth sailing. Here's what you should consider as you embark on a data analytics initiative to streamline the process and work to ensure success with your new platform post-purchase.

  1. Identify and build your budget
  2. Define how you'll procure the data analytics platform
  3. Build buy-in across the institution
  4. Establish goals and what your roadmap for success looks like
  5. Work on your data governance strategy

Keep reading for tips on handling each stage in the process, including questions to ask and action plans you need at each phase.

1. Identify and Build Your Budget

Once you have an idea of how much your purchase will cost, you need to identify how you'll pay for it. Do you have enough budget within your department, or will you need to pull from different budgets across the institution? An analytics platform is a cross-functional initiative so it's important to identify early on where you'll find the money or how you'll pool budgets together to create funding. And with balancing the budget being an EDUCAUSE top IT issue for 2024, it will be more important than ever to articulate value early and often to key stakeholders.


Here's an example of what your institution should consider by season:


2. Define How You'll Procure the Data Analytics Platform

How will you get the purchase through procurement and legal? Will you utilize a buying co-op, like E&I, go to RFP or RFI, or can you procure off an existing contract vehicle? This article from E&I highlights the importance of the higher education procurement process and how to optimize it at your institution. What does your procurement department require for the type of purchase you're looking to make? Make sure to pull in your procurement department early in the process to look for efficiencies. If you end up needing to go to RFP or RFI, how can you ensure you're drafting the most comprehensive set of requirements? Can you look to other institutions or solicit samples from vendors?

3. Build Buy-In Across the Institution

To ensure a smooth path to both purchase and usage, it is critical to get the right people to the table so you have institution-wide buy-in and transparency. Make sure you can answer these questions:

  • Who will be using the data, and who owns the data today?
  • Who needs to come along on the journey to get behind an analytics platform?
  • How will you go about creating buy-in both for the purchase and the platform?
  • How can you facilitate the change management required?
  • What is the culture of data at your institution today?




You'll need to bring all the relevant stakeholders together early in the process so you can collaborate around shared goals for the project and more. If you need more information on how two institutions did just this, you can look to Ohio University and Villanova University for tips on launching an analytics transformation and building a data strategy.

4. Establish Goals and a Roadmap for Success

As you are pulling the critical stakeholders in to secure buy-in, it's essential that you come together to establish your goals for the initiative. Articulating a clear vision for what you're hoping to accomplish will help generate confidence in your plan and the technology purchase at-large, smoothing the path to purchase. It's also critical for expectation setting down the line. Agreed upon goals, as well as an understanding of the path you'll take to get there, makes it more likely that you'll have the support you need to see the initiative through from start to finish. Understanding the questions you want to answer is one of the key tenets for success articulated in this playbook for creating an institutional analytics program

5. Work On a Data Governance Strategy

In order to get your data into the platform in a way that creates buy-in and trust from the data consumers, you'll need to start working on a data governance strategy out of the gate. Working on your plan as you're working on procurement will set you up for success in the long run. It also helps streamline the purchasing process since it shows you'll be prepared once the contract is signed. A data governance strategy is such a critical process to ensure the success of an analytics platform, but you don't have to reinvent the wheel. NYIT's approach to data governance provides a good jumping off point. 


If you consider and plan for all these elements along the way, you can be sure you'll be prepared for not only a smooth purchasing process but also long-term success post-implementation.



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