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Developing Your Backup Plans

Developing Your Backup Plans

When building your data integration, it's important to have a backup plan in case things don't go as planned. No matter which approach you've chosen, you'll want to be prepared for the unexpected.

Below is a brief summary of basic backup plans you can use for each approach, so that nothing interrupts your admissions business process.

 

Approach

Backup Plan 1

Backup Plan 2

Backup Plan 3

Double Application Manually create records in local systems for applicants (Manual Data Entry). Collect applications in a different way.  
Manual Data-Entry Have additional staff do the data entry (advance training and documentation required).    
Batch Processing Manually kick off batch extract and upload process for the set of applicant data. Manually create records in local systems for applicants (Manual Data Entry).  
Automated Integration Manually kick off extract, transform, and load process (Automated Integration). Manually extract and load batches of applicant data (Batch Processing). Manually create records in local systems for applicants (Manual Data Entry).

What to Prepare For

There's always the possibility that a catastrophic failure makes it impossible to transfer applicant data from our systems to yours, but the odds of that happening are extremely slim. On the other hand, there are a number of more common failures that can be anticipated. You can mitigate the effects of these common issues by being prepared. Here's a list of common issues that might affect your data integration.

  • There was a glitch in your local systems and a bunch of your applicant data was deleted.
  • Your local systems were changed and the way you transform the applicant data is no longer sufficient to allow for a batch upload.
  • Your local systems were changed and the way you manually enter data is no longer sufficient for creating individual records.
  • The staff member at your institution responsible for performing the manual data entry required for your data integration falls ill/quits/wins the lottery.
  • The student-facing application hosted in your local systems and required for your data integration goes down.
  • The tool you use in your local system to upload batches of applicant data stops working.
  • The query you use to extract applicant data was written incorrectly, resulting in missing records in local systems.
  • In transit, the batch of application data has been corrupted, resulting in missing records in local systems.
  • The scheduling tool you use to automate your data integration stops working.

Backup Plan Details

For each data integration approach, we'll walk through each backup plan and how to prepare it.

Double Application
  • Manually create records in local systems for applicants (Manual Data Entry)
    If the student-facing application hosted in your local systems and used to create applicant records goes down, you'll have to be ready to get CAS application data into your local systems in a different way. Manual data entry of each CAS application into your local systems is one way to do this. This approach has the advantage of not requiring your applicants to duplicate their efforts. On the other hand, it does call for more work for your staff. If your application volume is small, the amount of work might be palatable.
  • Collect applications in a different way
    If the student-facing application hosted in your local systems and used to create applicant records goes down, you'll have to be ready to get CAS application data into your local systems in a different way. If you want to continue collecting this information from the applicants a second time, you can prepare a different kind of application that can function outside of your local systems. For example, you might prepare an application that the applicant can print, fill out, and mail in. This backup plan requires extra work from your applicants and your staff.
Manual Data Entry
  • Have additional staff do the data entry
    If the staff usually in charge of the manual data entry required to create records in your local systems for CAS applicants are suddenly unavailable to perform that task, you'll have to figure out how to continue that process in their absence. By thoroughly documenting the process and training additional staff on how to do it, you can prepare your team to support your data integration even in the face of sudden human resources changes.
Batch Processing
  • Manually kick off batch extract and upload process for a set of applicant data.
    If, for whatever reason, CAS applicant data that should be in your local systems isn't, you'll want to be able to transfer that data on an ad hoc basis. You can use exactly the same process - extracting and uploading batches of CAS applicant data - but you'll need to be able to point that process at specific populations of CAS applicant data (e.g. records created on a specific day, applications to a specific program). Be sure you have set up your extraction tools in Liaison's systems to be able to accommodate ad hoc queries.
  • Manually create records in local systems for applicants (Manual Data Entry)
    If, for whatever reason, extracting and loading batches of CAS applicant data no longer functions, you'll want to continue  your data integration with little interruption. You should train your staff to manual enter CAS applicant records in your local systems. While this backup plan requires additional work for your staff, it will guarantee that applicant data continues to flow into your local systems.
Automated Integration
  • Manually kick off extract, transform, and load process (Automated Integration)
    If your automated integration fails to run at the scheduled time because your scheduling tool breaks or the server where the scripts are hosted goes down, you'll want to be prepared. To prepare for this type of issue, you'll want to be able to run the scripts that automate your integration on demand. Be sure to have access to up-to-date copies of the scripts and have a local environment where they can successfully run (necessary software installed, all required packages installed).
  • Manually extract and load batches of applicant data (Batch Processing)
    If there is no way to successfully run the scripts that automate your data integration, you'll want to be able to manually replicate the steps. To the extent that your automation is the stringing together of discrete processes, you'll want to be able to manually trigger (or run) each of those processes. At its most basic, this backup plan involves manual extraction and upload of batches of applicant data. Be sure you're able to perform this batch processing task manually even if you're building an automated integration. Additionally, it should be clear whose responsibility it is to run this process manually, especially if much of the automation work is being done by your IT department and you're in the Admissions office.
  • Manually create records in local systems for applicants (Manual Data Entry)
    If your automated integration fails and there's no way to process batches of CAS applicant data, you'll have to manually enter individual records into your local systems. If this manual data entry process is part of the current workload of some of your staffmembers, make sure there's a well-documented process for CAS applicant data and that your staff are trained on how it fits into their current workload. If none of your staff currently preforms manual data entry in your local systems, you'll want to get your staff trained in how to do that. You'll also want to create a well-documented process for manual data entry of CAS applicant data. Additionally, it should be clear whose responsibility it is to perform this function.

 

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