Too Much of a Good Thing

By Ann Murray, Director of Institutional Research, Laramie County Community College

As I was pondering what to write about, many thoughts kept bouncing around in my mind. This is probably a sign of the ever-increasing demand on rarely-increasing resources that many in IR are struggling with. The things that have been occupying my thoughts at the end of this academic year can be boiled down to “too much of a good thing.”

At Laramie County Community College (LCCC), we seemed to have turned an important corner. Including data and information to develop improvement strategies and for evaluating operational effectiveness is the accepted practice across the college. Areas making decisions based on anecdote rather than statistically reliable evidence now seem to be in the minority. More people are requesting more new recurring reports to incorporate into ongoing processes, which has raised the profile and the value of our IR functions. It has also increased people’s expectations. This is all good and something that we have been working toward for many years.

What’s not so good is that our resources haven’t increased and, with the budget constraints that Wyoming is facing for the next several years, that won’t change any time soon. So we need to find ways to streamline our reporting processes and be more efficient. Some things we’re trying include:

  • Using existing reports as much as possible to answer ad hoc questions,
  • Developing a two-three year research agenda,
  • Increasing the visibility and use of our online resources, and
  • Distributing our annual reporting calendar more widely so that people will know when to expect what data.

That brings me to my big question for you: what are you doing to better manage your workload and balance the demands on staff time?