Planning staff win awards for innovation

Mrs Ewa Seidel

Staff in the University’s Planning Services Unit have won awards from their peers and from a multinational software supplier.

The Business Analytics Team (BAT) within the PSU has won an award for its innovative use of Oracle software, while Mrs Ewa Seidel, a senior information analyst, has been awarded the prize for best paper at the Australian Association of Institutional Research (AAIR) annual conference.

Ms Gill Troup, Vice-President of Strategy and Community Engagement, congratulated the winners and said the awards reflected the dedication and abilities of staff in the PSU.

“I am very pleased that the innovative and professional work of my colleagues has been recognised in this way. Their work provides the vital planning and feedback capacity that assists the University to confidently pursue its strategic goals,” Ms Troup said.

Ms Andrea Matulick, the BAT leader, said the team was engaged in a three-year project that aims to provide sophisticated sets of data to the University’s senior management to assist in strategic decision-making.

The team is working to equip Flinders with a business analytics capability by pooling data from the University’s major systems – student, finance and HR – into a “warehouse”, where the data can then be organised in flexible ways by Oracle’s software.

Ms Andrea Matulick

“It extends from simple things like tables, graphs and trend reports through to sophisticated dashboards and scorecards that calculate how we are going against specific measures that the University is trying to achieve from the Strategic Plan,” Ms Matulick said.

Flinders is one of the first organisations in Australia to use the specialised software “stack” provided by Oracle, and Ms Matulick said it was her team’s hard work and innovative approach that had earned them recognition from the business intelligence multinational.

Mrs Seidel won best paper at the AAIR conference for her presentation on a method of estimating continuing student load.

The conference, attended by about 200 delegates, brings together representatives from all the offices at Australian universities engaged in planning and statistical reporting.

To improve the quality of estimates of students returning to a course, Mrs Seidel has helped in developing a statistical method that uses characteristics at student level associated with the likelihood of continuation.

Because of the importance of funding implications as first-year student intakes grow, Mrs Seidel said a more sophisticated measure that reflected the difference in return rates between first-year and established students was vital for planning, rather than the previous broad measure.

Ms Seidel’s prize of $1,000 will go towards costs of travel to Florida in 2014, where she will present her research to the American Association of Institutional Research.

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