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CCCS Proves That Educational Systems Have Much to Gain from ProClarity

  Product Review published in DM Review Magazine
March 2003 Issue
  By Mike D'Cristina
ProClarity Corporation
Review of: ProClarity Desktop Client from ProClarity Corporation


REVIEWER: Mike D'Cristina, data warehouse supervisor for the Colorado Community College System.

BACKGROUND: The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state's largest and fastest growing system of higher education with 14 campuses, 250,000 students annually and 3,000 employees.

PLATFORMS: Compaq ProLiant ML370 model; dual processor Pentium III 600MHz; memory ranging from 512MB to 1024MB; and varying disks - two have 6-36GB drives for a total of 170GB, 13 have 6-18GB drives for a total of 84GB.

PROBLEM SOLVED: At CCCS, ProClarity has proven that it can dramatically decrease programming time, enabling programmers to concentrate on enhancing existing programs or developing new programs. The change is remarkable considering that there was no way to get information from CCCS's various legacy systems simultaneously. IT time was consumed by querying 14 different data storage systems each time a financial or student data report was requested. Each time, an IT programmer had to write a custom query in house and generate a customized report. The process was so labor-intensive that it was nearly impossible to derive statistical data.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Thanks to ProClarity, CCCS has been able to automate and liberate business analysis to unprecedented levels. Decision-makers now use ProClarity to analyze information such as student age, geography, college, department, race, gender, financial aid and degree. Armed with this information, administrators can more quickly and accurately track marketing efforts, make enrollment projections and plan for future growth. Like most other organizations, we were loaded with data but unable to easily access it. ProClarity has allowed our programmers to meet the challenge of providing information from a variety of sources and displaying it using a common browser on the Web. ProClarity is a powerful way to give access to lots of information, both for the individual college and for our system office.

STRENGTHS: The strengths of ProClarity include its speed, the way it has simplified business analysis and its ease of implementation. We were able to pull a cube together integrating data from all 14 of the colleges. The books we've created have as many as 250 pages in them, covering almost all the reports and aggregate numbers for each of the schools. Training is also minimal, which is another strength. We do a basic training for the static views of management reports and touch on what would be available to power users who typically receive an additional two-hour course at a later date.

WEAKNESSES: A weakness of the product is the fact that a book cannot be modified - it must be recreated with the version being used. The Web-enabled rich client must be installed on the user's desktop; and with the security surrounding Windows 2000, they must have administrator privilege before it can be done. (Customers can use Active Directory, SMS or other deployment software to work around this.)

SELECTION CRITERIA: We liked what we saw of ProClarity from the beginning. We liked the fact that ProClarity was a made-for-Microsoft tool and that it was so simple to use. We've been able to display most of our requested reports just by training our users in ProClarity. What's especially great is that there's no lag time and no request to deal with. Ease of use and Internet functionality were key criteria. Because it's Web-based, it's completely transportable. We wanted that because we know that everything in the future is going to be intranet-based. Flexibility is also important. ProClarity gives a variety of representations of the data.

DELIVERABLES: The benefits are numerous. Our CCCS administrators can pull up a graph, see a trend for the past three years and how the system is coping with that trend. Or, if they're targeting a certain ethnic group, they can see how that population has changed. They can monitor a specific gender, see where we started our promotion efforts and the results. It gives us a demographic look at the data instead of just numbers. Another big benefit comes from the ability to compare schools. Our college presidents can compare themselves in terms of offerings, attendance, recruitment and the effects of marketing efforts on enrollment.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We received very good support from ProClarity. If the person on the phone cannot help us, we get someone who can. Most requests are answered in less than 12 hours.

DOCUMENTATION: We created our first books by reading the user manual. We received training from ProClarity at a later time.


For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
Analytic Applications and CRM.

Mike D'Cristina, data warehouse supervisor for the Colorado Community College System.

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