Stage One: Standardized Financial Reporting
The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) oversees all of the universities in the province of Ontario. So, when the government ordered the COU to standardize their members’ financial data and reporting, they had a problem.
The universities they represent range in size and age, each with individualized accounting and reporting systems that were not designed to integrate with others. Furthermore, the government mandated that all COU members’ financial data should be made publicly available, which posed additional privacy issues.
The COU chose TGT Solutions to help them collect and standardize their members’ financial data, validate the resulting datasets and submit them to the provincial and federal government. We architected a solution based on the Microsoft SharePoint content management framework that allowed us to optimize the collection, validation and analysis of large volumes of financial data in an efficient manner.
Thanks to our system, universities submit their data offline through templates that are later uploaded to SharePoint through a hierarchical approval process. Data is automatically harvested from the templates and stored in a dedicated Microsoft SQL Server data repository. Standard reports are generated in batch mode using Microsoft Reporting Services. TGT Solutions also developed a Microsoft .NET application to let power users query the data store and generate specialized reports.
Stage Two: Survey Data Management
The financial data collection process was a success, and COU soon realized that the platform could be used to collect non-financial data as well. Of particular interest to them was finding a better way to collect and aggregate the data they received through a series of seven surveys they distribute to their 48 member universities and affiliate organizations.
TGT Solutions worked with COU to create a custom survey management platform in SharePoint, which allowed them to harness the data management capabilities of MS SQL Server. TGT then developed a standardized survey data model that gave COU the ability to collect and retain all of their survey data. The solution also provides a standard set of reports and data extracts for each of the surveys to allow for presentation and data analysis.
Together, TGT Solutions and COU created an integrated data management and reporting platform based on Microsoft technologies that improved data quality while simplifying the work required by all of the survey responders.
Stage Three: Certification Assessment Workflow
Once their data and reporting systems were in place, COU again turned to TGT Solutions, this time to improve and upgrade their digital document management systems. As the governing body for Ontario’s colleges and universities, COU is responsible for certifying all graduate and doctoral programs offered in Ontario, and each existing program must be reviewed every 5 years. The certification process was complex and very paper intensive.
TGT worked with COU to upgrade their digital document management system, using a SharePoint hosted model. The system could be accessed securely by COU staff, consultants and by the institutions being assessed. The solution also supported assessment scheduling, automated assessment workflows, and document retention. It also captured all document metadata to allow for automatic reporting, quality control and process auditing.
In all three projects, Microsoft SharePoint provided the platform and functionality necessary to automate, standardize and simplify COU’s complex and previously work-intensive systems.
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