The feasibility of an effective data warehousing solution for a tertiary institution
English: Even though industry in South Africa has utilized data warehousing technologies successfully for a number of years, tertiary institutions have lagged behind. This can in part be attributed to the high costs involved, many failures in the past and the fact that the decision makers of these institutions are unaware of what data warehousing is and the advantages it can bring. Several factors, however, are forcing tertiary institutions in the direction of data warehousing. They need all the help they can get to make this process as easy as possible. Most of the tertiary institutions that still survive today came through periods of tough rationalizations and mergers. In order to stay alive and competitive, they have grown through the years and have developed into large businesses in and of themselves. On the one hand they had to make ends meet with subsidies from government that became less and less and on the other hand they had to provide more and more detailed statistics to the government. This change has resulted in a more business-like management of these institutions. Strategic decision making has now become of the utmost importance to tertiary institutions to meet the frequent changes in the government funding structure. The University of the Free State initially tried to accomplish that with an online transaction processing system developed in-house. These systems, however, are designed to optimize transactional processing and the features which increase the efficiency of these systems are generally those which also make it difficult to extract information. When that did not work, a new online transaction processing system was bought from an international company at a huge cost. During the course of data transfer from the old to the new system (with a different database design) numerous data conversion errors generated anomalies and a lack of integrity in the database. The new system also proved inadequate to provide the necessary statistics required by the Department of Education. A system was subsequently purchased that utilized ASCII files prepared by the online transaction processing system which generated fixed reports according to the Department of Education requirements. This system provided a workable solution, but with changes in requirements, new reports need to be developed continuously. It was also worthless for institutional planning and forecasting. This study reported the advantages and disadvantages of the current systems in use to provide statistics to the Department of Education. It then proposes a new system based on data warehousing principles. The dimensional star schema design for a data warehouse is provided. The methods used to transfer, load and extract data are discussed in detail. The data warehouse solution is then compared to the current solutions. The conclusion is that a data warehouse is a feasible solution for the strategic information problems tertiary institutions are facing today. An effective management information system using data warehousing can be developed in-house with low budgets, institutional data can be fitted into dimensional modelling star schemas, and error free data can be provided to end-users by developing proper extraction, transformation and loading packages. The data surfaced to end-users from relational online analytical processing can provide statistics to government and can be used for general planning and forecasting purposes.