Background

Queen Mary University of London is one of the UK’s leading research-focused higher education institutions. With over 20,000 students, 4,000 staff and an annual turnover of £400m, QMUL is one of the biggest University of London colleges.

Problem

The Customer’s Student Engagement System is used for faculty members of many schools to manage their work. A reporting solution was built around older MS SQL BI stack (on-premises) to address the analytics needs of the users. Due to the technology evolution, in particular lack of Silverlight support in modern browsers, this SharePoint 2013 with Powerview dashboards was not accessible from non-windows environment. The workaround of SSRS dashboards with the PerformancePoint also had issues with a number of non-Microsoft browsers. This severely limited the set of users who could use the system. Additionally, the Customer had special requirements for branding and security. Branding and UX were to be in line with the users’ expectations. For security, QMUL wanted to implement 2FA and had concerns around opening the data to the cloud.

Solution Approach

IONIT was engaged to create a new solution to address a wider set of users by making it accessible from non-Windows systems and other browsers. This was essential for the future roll-out of the solution to other schools of the University. The other important goals were to protect the current investment and keep data secure.

Our team built a PowerBI hosted dashboard, similar to the Customer’s dashboard, which allows users to filter the data and link to the detailed SSRS reports from the data table. We hosted SSRS 2016 with sample reports from QMUL with the link from PowerBI service, and SQL DB/SSAS for sample data related to the above reports. As other parts of the project deliverables, we created O365 SharePoint online pages showing the PowerBI reports and Excel collaboration and an O365 SharePoint page to manage the KPI threshold data and colour scheme. In addition, we helped migrate the solution to QMUL’s environment.

Our solution resolved successfully the main issues of accessibility from non-Windows systems and browsers

Our solution addressed the main requirements of security

Our solution addressed the main requirements of branding

The pilot project has been a success and will become part of a fully-fledged PowerBI solution for all schools of the University

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