Improving Data Quality at Michigan State University

  • Enabling gift and engagement officers with quality information to achieve their goals, including a fundraising goal of $1.5 billion.
  • Measuring Key Performance Data Quality Indicator Scorecards and Profiles.
  • Building in-house talent and reducing vendor dependency
  • Able to be more efficient and agile with staff resources.
  • Establish a single version of the truth by integrating data from 47 source systems.
  • Minimize human intervention and manual data review processes.

Michigan State University’s (MSU) Office of University Advancement works to build lasting relationships with alumni, friends and donors, providing information systems, communications, marketing and event support for all college and university sanctioned advancement efforts. It’s the steward of alumni and donor data, which it uses to determine their capacity to give and stay involved. More than 100 gift officers rely on data from 47 source systems—from on-premises mainframes to off- premises sources such as LexisNexis and social media—to inform their fundraising and engagement efforts. Key metrics include wealth indicators, past gift amounts and frequency, the number of alumni attending university events, Net Promoter scores, and donor retention year-over-year.

To keep data quality high, MSU Advancement relied on a 20-person team of programmers, data entry, and data integrity staff working full-time to unify data from the fragmented source systems. Even with ongoing manual labor, it was difficult to establish a single source of the truth. Gift and engagement officers often had to base decisions on data that was at least a week old, and relied on programmers to build customized reports or extractions so they could consume the data effectively. Adding new source systems could take laborious months, hampering university efforts to move away from legacy, mainframe- based systems and adopt best-of-breed applications and cloud services.

“We were very pleased with NGDATA. The team helped us define our architecture and kept the project moving as we were learning and maturing.”
– Monique Dozier, Assistant Vice President of Advancement Information Systems and Donor Strategy, Michigan State University, Office of University Advancement


MSU Advancement was looking for a solution that would enable it to improve data quality and implement a self-service hub architecture for any size and type of data, whether on premise or in the cloud. They worked with NGDATA and our Informatica partner to implement the Informatica solutions and decouple data sources from destinations through a publish/subscribe model.

By centralizing data management, monitoring and control, MSU was able to reorganize its technical staff from a team of tactical programmers to one that is strategically focused on supporting and enabling end users. With more in-house capabilities, MSU reduced consulting costs as well as the amount it spends acquiring information from outside sources.

Adding new source systems is now much easier, as each system is simply another endpoint feeding into the hub. MSU can deploy and integrate new systems quickly, adopt best-of-breed technologies and benefit from modern cloud applications. As MSU moves toward a hybrid architecture, it can seamlessly move data between cloud and on premise systems and connect to Hadoop for big data management.

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