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The Data-Informed Institution

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Content elements: › How education is using data for digital transformation › The mission and business value of data › Data, adaptability, and agility › Agility for data - 6 steps › How can we use data to bring adaptability to our institution? › In closing › About the author How can we use data to bring adaptability to our institution? Breaking down problems Older ways of doing IT in educational institutions often led to large, monolithic, and time-consuming projects. Agile ways of working encourage breaking those down into smaller, incremental initiatives, with valuable results delivered frequently along the way. The total amount of work doesn't necessarily change (although it is often reduced, for reasons I will cover), but it's broken into manageable pieces. Doing so helps avoid the huge analysis-paralysis that accompanies large projects and not only delays them but often prevents them from getting started at all. Large, monolithic initiatives are risky and therefore require much more upfront vetting and consensus building. The smaller, more incremental approach lets institutions reduce risk, begin more quickly, get value from their efforts sooner, and constantly improve their delivery as they gain experience. It is an essential technique of today's IT delivery practices. Working incrementally in small deliverables also vastly improves an institution's adaptability and agility. Instead of planning and committing to a project that might last five years and turn out to be outdated by the time it is finished, the institution can frequently step back and reprioritize or adjust its efforts as circumstances change. During the pandemic, organizations that had become used to working in short, incremental cycles were able to adjust to new realities as they developed. The incremental approach also frees up innovation by allowing new ideas to be tested quickly and reduces risk by allowing institutions to gather continuous feedback that they can use to adjust their direction or halt projects that don't seem to be achieving their desired effects. They can thereby always make sure they are solving the right problem at the right time. 14

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