Spotlight on Strategy with Mr. Derek MacPherson • Institute for Effectiveness in Higher Education
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Spotlight on Strategy with Mr. Derek MacPherson

Spotlight on Strategy with Mr. Derek MacPherson

data strategy

At the IEHE, we are always excited to have the opportunity to highlight the incredible work being done by our colleagues. As part of the launch of Data Strategy in Colleges and Universities: From Understanding to Implementation, edited by our own Kristina Powers, we’re bringing you a series of profiles of the higher education professionals who share their knowledge and expertise in the book.

Derek MacPherson serves as a Senior IT Analyst with Zovio. He wrote Chapter 12 –  Information Technology Analysts’ Perspectives which focuses on the critical role IT analysts play in collecting the data and in some cases extracting the data from data systems for use by decision-makers.

Key Chapter Takeaways

Derek believes the biggest takeaway of his chapter for the IT analyst is the need to recognize the different perspectives of the data requesters they are supporting. Those perspectives and needs will vary depending the requester’s institutional role.

Derek MacPherson On the Process of Writing

In writing the chapter, Derek realized how challenging it is explaining IT processes to non-technical colleagues without using technical jargon. He notes that he schedules specific days dedicated to writing, starting in the morning and writing all day, ignoring all interruptions, such as email.  For him, the most difficult part of writing is coming up with the initial writing topics, saying:

“Once immersed in the actual writing, time goes by quickly. However, the sense of accomplishment once the writing project is complete is the most rewarding part.”


An Excerpt from Data Strategy in Colleges and Universities:

Excerpt from Chapter 12 of Data Strategy in Colleges and Universities: In the context of building a data strategy, an information technology (IT) analyst is a data analyst that works for the information technology department or a similar IT unit, such as data management or business intelligence. In a higher education environment, this individual’s goal is to provide timely and actionable data, information, and analysis to facilitate student success and institutional growth. A timely deliverable is one that is ready when the user or requester needs it. For instance, if an institutional research analyst requests raw detail data to complete a regulatory report, they should receive it early enough to allow them to file the regulatory report before the deadline.

Want to read more? Order your copy of Data Strategy in Colleges and Universities: From Understanding to Implementation now! You can also read more about the chapter authors and an extended excerpt from the book.

Have you ever dedicated an entire day to your writing, and ignoring all interruptions? What did you do to make that effort successful? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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