Best practices

Known methods and techniques to help create better results with university data.

Things to consider first

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Make sure to follow the same rules

University data is more than just spreadsheets and presentations - it’s information gathered about students, academics, budgets, human resources, research, and facilities.

Each of these domains have their own stewards and policies following institutional or legal standards. This is also known as data governance.

Make sure to consider any risks

Each new tool that connects to university data also needs to be secure, which means it's possible that it will need to be reviewed by Cybersecurity to see what risk might be involved.

Each tool poses a potential security risk and may need to go through a Risk Management Framework with the campus cybersecurity team.

All tools will need to be secure and not expose campus to any unintended issues. Whether you discover a new tool, or select a pre-approved everyday data tool, there is help available to strategize and identify any red flags or concerns.

Make sure to think of the big picture

In order to be good stewards of university resources, it's good practice to see if there is an existing solution first.  It can save time and money.

Once a tool has been approved, there is still planning needed to ensure its continued success. Conversations should also take place about:

  • Training
  • Maintenance
  • Who will support the new tool

Make sure it's accessible to everyone

If you are considering adding a new product or tool, digital accessibility should be part of the decision making process.

Buying accessible technology | Evaluating technology for accessibility

Where to begin

Just getting started? Try this:

Tips on how to best approach your question that may involve data and information technology including:

Common questions, rules and policies, security, accessibility, working with a third-party tool or vendor, and who to talk to for assistance.

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Best practices when it comes to compliance

Data governance checklist

Facilitating campus-wide data-driven decision making that’s aligned with UW-Madison priorities.

Explore governance

Security checklist

Intake analyses, security assessments, risk management, and security control implementation.

Securing your data

Policy document

Policy, procedures, data access, management and use standards when it comes to institutional data.

Explore policy

Best practices in using data tools

In addition to the things to consider first, each tool often at used at UW-Madison may have its own documentation and training materials.  There are also communities of practice to crowdsource an answer.

Everyday data tools

There are many tools used to access, and analyze to gain insights. These are some of the most common ones used at UW-Madison.

  • Badger Analytics
  • InfoAccess
  • Lumen
  • Student Information System (SIS)
  • Tableau
  • RADAR, Repository of Administrative Dashboards and Reports
  • UW Business Intelligence (UWBI, OBIEE, OAS)
  • WISPER, Wisconsin Proposal Electronic Routing
  • WISER: formerly known as WISDM (or Wisconsin Data Mart)
  • SAS
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Access
  • Oracle SQL Developer

Explore everyday data tool options

Data integration tools

These many involve using custom applications or integration code to allow systems to exchange data, seek to deploy or enhance IT systems to support and streamline business processes.

Explore data integration tool options

Service principles

Ready to launch into a data integration? Want to understand the best ways to make sure your work benefits UW-Madison as a whole?

12 Interoperability Service Principles

Principles to help us create and run great interoperability services at UW-Madison. They were developed in collaboration with campus partners and include best practices.

Interoperability is a continual improvement process

Get help

General questions

Talk to an expert to get answers, guidance, and advice for your specific question.

Contact an expert

Data Stewards

The point person to help get access to the institutional data you need to use.

Find a data steward

What is institutional data?

Submit an Identity Data Integration (IDI) request


Folks who frequently use, access, and share data at UW-Madison.

TechPartners, Data Wonks, BI Community of Practice, more tech support groups