Northwood University Adopts Sophisticated Data Management System in Mission for Continuous Improvement

Implementation of Ellucian Perform™ software allows Michigan business university to increase focus on key performance indicators, metrics during strategic restructuring

In today’s competitive higher education sector, data management, reporting and analytics is a must for colleges and universities to align plans, meet performance goals and measure progress, while simultaneously enhancing the student experience at all levels. At Northwood University in Midland, Michigan, a drive for continuous quality and improvement prompted officials to implement a new higher-education performance management software system, Ellucian Perform™, tracking such indicators as student retention and graduation rates, among others, with an institution-wide view.

This software program, developed by Fairfax, Virginia-based Ellucian, streamlines data entry and analytics to seamlessly provide a detailed view of key performance metrics across the campus, its departments, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and educational platforms. It transforms raw data into tangible information that Northwood University now uses in planning and quality performance initiatives as it undergoes a major system-wide restructuring, “Moving Northwood University Forward,” and evolves its programming for future sustainability and success.

With a focus on specialty business education and operational excellence, Northwood University seeks to practice what it teaches its students – future global business leaders, says Kristin Stehouwer, Northwood University’s executive vice president, chief academic officer and chief operating officer.

“The implementation of this system exemplifies our commitment to excellence in all we do – at all levels of our institution,” Stehouwer says, adding that the university sought a robust management system to capture what it is accomplishing and what it seeks to achieve in the future.

“Our journey for continuous improvement prompted us to seek an innovative way to address our evolving data gathering, analysis and planning needs,” notes Bob Wisler, Northwood University’s chief information officer. “We not only can easily see our pertinent data in a simple interface, but we also can drill down into the details while tying it into our strategic plan initiatives.”

For example, as part of Northwood University’s strategy to enhance learning environments and overall student experience, the administration wanted to aggregate several key student success performance indicators. The system even allows the university to structure the platform according to how it also structures its strategic plan.

“We are achieving increased transparency around our key performance metrics,” Stehouwer says. “This platform has helped us examine how we use data to make strategic decisions and allows us to assign weights to various performance metrics. That is one of the biggest benefits so far. It’s bringing us one-step closer to a balanced scorecard and allows us to see how important each measure is in helping us achieve our goals and fulfill our mission.”


About Northwood University

Northwood University is committed to the most personal attention to prepare students for success in their careers and in their communities; it promotes critical thinking skills, personal effectiveness, and the importance of ethics, individual freedom and responsibility.

Private, nonprofit, and accredited, Northwood University specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education at a full-service, residential campus located in mid-Michigan. Adult Degree Programs are available in multiple states and online. The DeVos Graduate School offers accelerated, evening and weekend programming in Michigan and Texas. The Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity and Enterprise provides system-wide expertise in family enterprise, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and new business development. International education is offered through study abroad and in Program Centers in China (Changchun and Wuxi), Malaysia and Sri Lanka.