Villanova University

Best Practices for Building a Higher Ed Data Strategy: Villanova's Journey to  a Single Source of Truth



Villanova University is a private Catholic high research activity (R2) doctoral institution serving approximately 11,000 undergraduate, graduate, and law students. Over time, dissatisfaction built among business users, college deans, and senior administrators around the lack of easy and timely access to data for decision-making.  To solve this problem, the Provost created the Office of Decision Support and Data Integrity (ODSDI) charged with advancing a culture of data sharing, data stewardship and data-informed decision-making. Central to this work was the creation of a strong and sustainable data infrastructure and enhanced data governance along with building an operational framework that would maximize ROI for the university’s initiatives. 

Read the case study to learn how Villanova partnered with HelioCampus to build an institutional analytics platform and help Villanova create a campus wide data analytics strategy, developing four best practices for success along the way.

“HelioCampus set up the entire environment—the data lake, ETL layer, Tableau data visualization environment, student data models that included admissions, course registration, and the entire student lifecycle was all designed for us. This jumpstart to our admissions, financial aid, course registrations, and student outcomes data was invaluable. If we had taken on that aspect of the project internally, it would have taken us years.”

Trina Das, Assistant Vice Provost

Villanova University

The Missing Holistic View

The exploration of Villanova’s data tools and reporting challenges made it clear that the university lacked a holistic view of data. Das pinpointed several specific challenges, including:

  • A challenging reporting structure;
  • Lack of a single source of truth;
  • Little cross-pollination of data;
  • Decentralized data reporting structure; and
  • Multiple data systems and reporting tools which created challenges in both access and sharing.
Bottom line? Villanova needed an integrated solution that would combine data from across the university and allow users easy access to data and information for decision-making.

Best Practices for Building a Data- Informed Institution

During the process of developing Villanova’s data strategy, Das identified four best practices that she believes were the keys to their success. Read the case study for more details on each one:

  1. Achieve leadership buy-in
  2. Identify champions
  3. Cultivate flexibility
  4. Show the value

Learn More About the Results 

Read the Case Study