Decision Support

Project Overview

The Decision Support project has been designed to modernize the data ecosystem at UMD and the accompanying centrally deployed and supported tools used for reporting and data extraction. Maryland’s ecosystem was developed more than 15 years ago and must now be replaced. In some cases, the replacement is necessary because the existing tools are no longer supported by the vendors (e.g., Profiles and Hyperion). In other cases, the replacement is necessary because the architecture has become unwieldy and brittle (e.g., Data Warehouse, reporting tools).

The major workstreams of the ecosystem are:

Executive Reporting:

This addresses the need to replace Profiles, along with selected WOW reports, and to develop dashboards appropriate for executive reporting to address frequently asked and recurring questions. The tool chosen for this work is Tableau. has become a portal for reporting at the University of Maryland. The site has replaced IRPA’s Profiles as your location for campus reporting. All campus employees have access to aggregate reports on topics such as Admissions, Courses, Degrees, Employees, Enrollments, Resources, and Student Success. New reports and content areas will be added on an ongoing basis.

Ad Hoc Reporting and Extracts:

This addresses the need to replace out-of-date extraction and reporting tools such as the Warehouse on the Web (WOW) and desktop Hyperion that are currently used to generate tabular reports and to extract data sets (e.g., lists of students). A suite of SAS products has been procured for this effort.

Data Modernization:

This involves moving from a campus-based set of Oracle warehouses (Current and Frozen) into a single, cloud-based warehouse. This will modernize the architecture and enable implementation of new data policies aimed at providing additional data access to appropriate campus users.

Data Documentation:

This work engages campus Data Stewards and Data Managers in documentation of existing data, including identification of data sources and the relationships between data elements. This effort will enhance the campus’ ability to integrate data across systems and, eventually, will be useful in new system implementation. A new tool, Data Docs (, has been developed for this purpose.


During the past year (2019) the DSS project accomplished the following:

  • Deployed reports for students
  • Published reports created by those outside the University so that they can be available to employees and students
  • Launched SAS Enterprise Guide as a replacement to Hyperion Studio for ad hoc querying
  • Launched a custom, online training course for SAS Enterprise Guide users
  • Launched SAS Visual Analytics as a replacement for WOW Reports
  • Continued to develop a library of report and data element definitions in Data Docs to support both Tableau and SAS Visual Analytics reports
  • Began development of a new reporting site to seamlessly integrate reports from multiple tools

Past Accomplishments

During Fall 2018 the DSS project accomplished the following:

  • Conducted training and an ad hoc querying pilot using SAS Enterprise Guide
  • Installed and configured SAS Visual Analytics in the QA environment
  • Prepared for SAS Visual Analytics pilot activities
  • Upgraded Tableau Server to version 2018.2
  • Deployed new reports on Minor Enrollments and Minor Awards to
  • Updated all existing reports to reflect FY 2018 and Fall 2018 data
  • Updated methodology for unduplicating records in employee reports
  • Continued progress on first iteration of employee and student data models including logical models, data profiling, data definitions, data quality checks, and initial business requirements approved or near approval
  • Continued to populate definitions in Data Docs. Currently there are 231 element definitions, 8 data sets definitions, and 71 report definitions in Data Docs

During July and August the DSS project accomplished the following:

  • Completed installation and testing of SAS Office Analytics in the QA and Production environments
  • Identified Ad Hoc Querying pilot participants and scheduled Enterprise Guide pilot training
  • Upgraded Tableau Server to version 2018.1
  • Deployed a new Freshman Connection report in the Enrollments area of Campus Reports
  • Deployed “Delete a definition” functionality for system administrators in Data Docs
  • Continued progress on first iteration of employee and student data models including logical models, data profiling, data definitions, data quality checks, and initial business requirements approved or near approval

During June the DSS project accomplished the following:

  • Launched new Strategic Planning landing page as a portal to reports used by Deans’ Offices and the Provost’s Office
  • Deployed additional sandboxes and provided report-writing support to sandbox users
  • Generated external interest in the project by presenting at the Amazon Web Services Public Summit, with Tableau and Amazon as co-presenters - View Video: Using Tableau and AWS for Fearless Reporting at UMD
  • Developed a set of common criterion that will need to be met for any data set moving to the new Redshift environment - known as “Definition of Done”
  • Drafted and prioritized business questions to be answered by student data sets
  • Completed installation of SAS Office Analytics in the development environment
  • Completed SAS Office Analytics administrator training

During May, the DSS project accomplished the following:

  • Created a new content area in Tableau (Peer Data) and deployed a report on US News rankings
  • Deployed additional sandboxes
  • Re-deployed Rice tool to request access for drill down users
  • Re-examined desktop license purchase strategy to meet increased demand
  • Gained consensus on four employee functional concept definitions
  • Began work with initial pilot groups for SAS implementation to gather requirements

During April, the DSS project accomplished the following:

  • Removed the requirement for a VPN to access when users are on a campus network (wired or wireless, which does not include eduroam)
  • Deployed two new “Simplified Movers” reports on, including documentation in Data Docs - “Where Did My Students Go?” and “Who Sends Me Students?”
  • Deployed the Unit Look-up tool in the “Campus Reports” section of
  • Drafted conceptual data model and concepts for employee data
  • Integrated SAS with campus authentication and authorization so that Enterprise Guide users only have to enter their credentials once per session

During March, the DSS project accomplished the following:

  • On-site consulting for Tableau including training for over 20 new users and 5 successful “Tableau Doctor” sessions
  • Met with IT Accessibility to identify areas for improvement on Executive Reports
  • Developed a website for Strategic Plan reports to avoid report duplication on Tableau Server and ensure data are up to date
  • Developed documentation for use of sandboxes and created sandbox environments for two additional units
  • Identified business questions around employee reporting and prioritized them
  • Tied business questions in all data content areas to existing Tableau reports, all of which are documented in DataDocs
  • Identified strategy for deploying data prototypes in Tableau
  • Assessed risks and benefits and made decision to upgrade SAS installation to a newly available version of Visual Analytics, which offers new functionality and an improved user experience
  • Performed testing to validate completed aspects of the SAS development environment configuration