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Delivering Data Futures

  By UNIT-e   - Friday 01 February 2019

Francis McLaughlan, Customer Success Manager for UNIT-e discusses how we’re working in partnership with the sector to deliver Data Futures.

Moving from a single retrospective data collection to a continuous in-year submission was always going to be a challenge – for HE providers and their software suppliers. At ESS, we’ve been preparing to meet that challenge in partnership with our HE users, and colleagues from HESA’s Data Futures Software Supplier Group.

Starting small, we quickly established an agile, cross-functional project team to better understand and support the technology needs of our HE users. The project gathered pace and in January we rolled-out our Data Futures test environment.

Where are we now?

We are now providing software updates to our beta testing group so that they can help us fine-tune the user interface and ensure that the AGILIT-e Data Futures module is robust, efficient and easy-to-use. Slightly ahead of schedule we have already completed end-to-end capability of producing an XML output – this has been designed to create the full statutory return as specified by HESA, consolidating student data already captured within the AGILIT-e database and with file validation checking.

Delivering Data Futures

As well as our own users, we’ve been lucky enough to engage with many of you from the HE data community at recent events including SROC Data Futures and the ‘M5 Group’ Data Matters conference. We know it’s important you have confidence in your technology suppliers ability to help you deliver, what Andy Youell described as, “the biggest single technology refresh in the data collection process for nearly a quarter of a century”.

That’s why we’re pleased our Data Futures module is on track to be released to the live environment before summer 2019, with the HESA Data Platform API integration following soon after. We still have a lot to do, but with the AGILIT-e toolset in place we’ll be working in partnership with our HE users to ensure a successful mandatory trial submission in early 2020, and then the all-important first live submission later in the year.

For current UNIT-e users looking for updates on our Data Futures development and integration release schedule, join me and my colleagues for a special Data Futures webinar later this month.