Testing MyData

John Lawrence’s message from Sept. 23, 2019

Extension staff in five counties and on campus are busy testing MyData, our centralized system for collecting information about partnerships, client relationships and outcomes. The pilot phase started in April and is a time to test, learn, adjust and improve the system. If something is not working, this phase allows us to solve issues early, resulting in responsive changes for more consistent, robust and useful data collection. Did you know?

  • The current priority for testers is to collect Civil Rights data – gender, race and ethnicity – for both their direct and indirect contacts.
  • Tester Joy Rouse, a human sciences specialist in family life, is busy making MyData part of her regular routine. She appreciates the ability within MyData to report indirect contacts, partners and other staff with one entry.
  • Another tester, Kristin Taylor, Human Sciences creative projects specialist and MyData steering committee member, likes how the new system allows users to enter event details; and then the automated functions send a request for registration services to Conference Planning and Management, populate public calendars and program webpages with upcoming events, and set email reminders to enter post-program information.

We thank our pilot testers for the time they are investing to improve this tool and customize it for our needs. Because of their feedback, demographic fields were expanded to better understand participant reach, overall reporting is being reduced as current reporting systems are streamlined into MyData, and report functionality is being broadened to meet federal, state and local reporting requirements.

We expect a systemwide rollout of phase 1 by the end of 2020 or early 2021. Future phases will focus on developing a customer relations management platform; recording inputs such as volunteer hours, funding support, and educational material development; and collecting outcome data about client changes in learning, actions, and life conditions.

You can keep up-to-date on MyData progress. Please contact our database coordinator, Phil Heckman, pheckman@iastate.edu, with specific questions or ideas. When we roll out MyData, all staff will be asked to use this tool, and ongoing support and training will be offered. By working collectively toward our goal of consistent reporting, we can more accurately reflect our statewide client touchpoints and share how we’re building a strong Iowa through impact-rich programming.

Internal Communications: Area-wide meetings and Structured for Success

Thank you to those who participated in the area-wide meetings and thank you to everyone who has provided feedback on Structured for Success. These efforts directly relate to recommendations from our Internal Communications Task Force for two-way communication and a field-to-campus feedback loop. The Structured for Success committee offered two models for review, and extension staff, faculty and council members provided feedback during the Aug. 20 webinar and via the virtual suggestion box – also a result of a task force recommendation. (You can review the Structured for Success FAQ common themes, as well as the entire archive of FAQs.) We have had engaging discussions during the area-wide meetings and are receiving thoughtful feedback during the virtual meetings. In addition, a group of county directors has proposed a third model. We’re reviewing their draft with Iowa State Human Resources and University Counsel, and I expect to share a third model after the review is complete.

Please continue to provide feedback. Together we will improve communication and accountability across our system as we develop our organizational structure for success.

One more note: Deb Tootle and Gary Taylor’s presentation and handout on rural resilience and community capitals are available on the area-wide meetings webpage.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

Introducing MyData

John Lawrence’s message from June 17, 2019

Back in March I told you that we were getting closer to having one shared reporting system for our entire organization. Now I am pleased to introduce MyData, the centralized system that will expand our ability to collect and report numbers and narratives about program outcomes, partnerships and client relationships. Did you know?

  • Five counties (Carroll, Franklin, Monroe, Muscatine and Polk) and some campus staff currently are piloting MyData. For the next six to 12 months, they’ll be using the system; providing feedback on best practices for managing, sharing and accessing data; and suggesting improvements. They’ll also help to identify the reports, dashboards and other features that extension professionals are likely to request. In addition, they’ll become a cohort of users who can help develop and deliver training for the rest of us.
  • After the pilot has been completed and any necessary adjustments have been made, MyData will be rolled out in phases. The schedule and the training will be tailored to the specific needs, uses and work cycles of each extension unit.
  • If all goes as planned, MyData will be tested, tried and rolled out to the entire ISU Extension and Outreach system sometime in 2021.

The goal for MyData is to meet as many county and program reporting needs as possible. ISU Extension and Outreach units have unique needs for collecting and reporting data, which requires feedback from many to make MyData work for all of us. In the coming months you’ll be hearing more about MyData from the steering committee and your unit leaders. Because MyData is really our data, please engage in these discussions and provide feedback. Let’s work together to create the best system possible. You also can check MyExtension to follow MyData’s progress.

Internal Communications: Update

During our leadership team retreat on May 31, we started prioritizing and in some cases bundling the recommendations from the Internal Communications Task Force. As a result, on June 21 I will be meeting with staff from Extension Information Technology and Advancement for a preliminary discussion about a centralized, internal communications platform for extension staff and faculty. While I think of MyExtension as a file cabinet that stores tools, content and assets, I see this platform as a newspaper. This platform could include information from leadership, and other internal communications from the program areas, support units and counties. Other items like a virtual suggestion box, calendar of events, or my Vice President for Extension and Outreach schedule also could be included. This is an initial meeting to discuss what this platform might include and understand what sort of resources – technical or otherwise – might be needed.

These technological tools will help us better communicate virtually and stay informed. The in-person, area-wide meetings that will begin in August will help us put faces and names with the digital messages and build better relationships within our organization.

Interims from and in Advancement

Effective July 3, Jacy Johnson, director of ISU Extension and Outreach Advancement, will serve as interim executive director of ISU Strategic Relations and Communications, a new unit that will replace University Relations. The new unit is part of President Wintersteen’s efforts to re-envision the university’s approach to communicating and marketing to deal with budgetary challenges, and seek greater efficiency and continuous improvement. (You might say she is applying ISU Extension and Outreach’s model of Advancement to the rest of the university.) While Jacy is serving President Wintersteen, Billie Koester, strategic relations manager in Advancement, will serve as Advancement’s interim director.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach

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