FAIR  Faculty Academic Information Reporting
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Frequently Asked Questions about FAIR


Frequently Asked Questions about FAIR

If you are here then you are interested in a federal and or state effort reporting solution. Here are the questions you would be asking

  1. Please provide information on your firm, qualifications, and ability to support product after acquisition.

    A version of this system was developed internally at the University of South Florida with particular attention to the interfacing and integration with disparate existing systems, along with the minimization of time and inconvenience to faculty (particularly principal investigators) and staff. This system was then sold as a university product to four clients before this effort was spun off so that it could receive the support it needed to become a full fledged software solution. The staff at Aptitude Ventures has 22 years of university experience in effort reporting and effort reporting systems. The ability and expertise to support the application will not be a problem, as we maintain a customer service attitude and provide user, system administrator and developer documentation.

  2. Please detail all sites that have implemented or are implementing your product and furnish references.

    • The Florida International University (in Miami, Florida)
    • The University of North Florida (in Jacksonville, Florida)
    • The Florida Atlantic University (in Boca Raton, Florida)
    • The University of Texas at San Antonio
    • The University of Massachusetts at Boston
    • The University of Massachusetts at Lowell

    Other Institutions and Universities we have worked with:
    • The University of Western Ontario (in London, Ontario)
    • The New College of Florida
    • The College of Medicine at the University of South Florida


    Contacts at these universities can be furnished upon request

  3. What are maintenance contract costs?

    They are 20%-25% of the purchase price which vary by module and institution, and which are based upon a mixture of student and faculty FTE

  4. What is application cost?

    The system cost varies between 125,000 and 250,000, though the actual fee will be based on the modules purchased and on the size of your institution, where the factor of size will be a mixture of student and faculty FTE. While making money is great it is not the primary goal of our enterprise. We have several years of development effort in this product at the local level, and we decided we should leverage this knowledge by producing a professional level product for others, given the poor products we have seen represented in the marketplace. I think we finally find ourselves in a time period where the level of administrative or functional sophistication in the university is such that promises and vaporware, or slick looking but poorly designed interfaces can be resisted in favor of well designed and easily maintained applications. Also we have seen so called million dollar systems take tens of millions to implement. We charge only seventy five dollars an hour for implementation consulting, which is very low given our experience and expertise, and this is because we believe in our product, and because we want to make it clear that our purchase price is not a Trojan horse to high consultancy fees.

    OPERATIONS

  5. Please explain how your application facilitates accurate reporting.

    The application is vast, and is best displayed in the form of a live or online demonstration but the basics screens are located here

    The application ensures the most accurate reporting possible:
    • The form cannot be physically or electronically signed if it is not completed properly.
    • Data from the Student Information cannot be deleted
    • Effort must be compliant with payroll
    • There are numerous exception reports all bundled into an effort reporting wizard for administrative staff and functional system administrators


  6. How does application facilitate user notification of due dates for reporting and availability of reporting form?

    An e-mail control notifies users and/or administrative principals that effort reporting is required for a given period based on term control dates (form which in turn are driven by functional, legal and/or statutory deadlines), as well as their compliance status if the effort report has been updated. Based on the aforementioned premises, if the system input periods (determined by the Provost’s Office or other compliance authorities) are exceeded, the system will begin to automatically send emails to departmental contacts (chair or PI delegates, then the chairs…etc.).

  7. Detail how your application facilitates departmental review and participation in the effort reporting process.



    This system requires that all official reports (as opposed to draft reports that can be completed by faculty and staff) be authorized by the supervisor, the department chair/unit director/accountable officer, or the Dean or Campus CEO or designate..

  8. Please provide listing of available reports and samples of key reports your application provides for departmental and central staff users.

    While most systems are sold on ease of reporting, this is usually a bold-faced lie, or the reporting is trivial. Our software team consists of Institutional Research staff with Information Technology backgrounds, and our system has an entire module dedicated to reporting. These are real working reports that were developed by real university faculty and staff with the intent of accomplishing a goal. Much of this reporting capability is for the examination of the Scholarship and Effort Reporting data that is resident within the FAIR system, but the system utilizes master extracts and from these extracts we can produce IPEDS reporting (EAP, Staff, Salaries), the AAUP & CUPA Full Time Instructional Faculty Salary Surveys, other advanced appointment reporting, the Peterson’s Graduate Survey and Delaware Survey of Instructional Cost Surveys, in addition to specific accreditation reporting for SACS and AACSB. Our listing of reports is very extensive, Please feel free to contact us or to send us an e-mail for a demonstration.

  9. How does your application minimize the need for end user training? Facilitate ease of reporting and user understanding?

    While the system has an online training, we have found in our 22 years of combined effort reporting experience that a simple elegant interface does more to contribute low training needs than anything else. Our form was designed with three basic needs in mind, it was to meet federal effort reporting requirements, it was to meet the State of Florida and Delaware instructional cost requirements, and most importantly, it should be easy to understand and should fit on one page., and we have achieved these goals.

    TRAINING

  10. Please describe application training provided by your organization with associated cost.

    Training is essentially continuous and because we have more than ten years of contiguous experience with effort reporting, we can offer you consultancy that works. The training of unit staff should be facilitated by a FAIR liaison in each college (or Dean level area). While we are willing to do on-site training and ninety-plus percent of the time it is usually considered necessary by the client, it is neither something we strive for or want to avoid. Generally we have provided initial training to the functional and technical system administrators, and then (or concurrently) to the persons tapped as FAIR Liaisons for the college.

  11. Please describe documentation provided to application customers.

    The system contains online administration manuals for the technical administrator and the functional administrator, as well as end user training documentation.

  12. What is the cost associated with technical training for local support?

    Consultancy is available at ninety dollars per hour. See Item #4 for our business philosophy on consultancy revenues.

    TECHNICAL

  13. Please describe how application will allow web-based reporting.

    The entire application is web based. While the input of the information is decentralized, all compilation and reporting is managed through the web using ASP technology and populated into your SQL database.

  14. Please describe databases supported by application.

    The application operates in any instance of the Microsoft SQL Server environment. The extract translate and loading process for data can export system data to any existing relational database, as well as import data from any existing relational database management system.

  15. Please describe platforms supported by application.

    Microsoft Active Server Page technology and the SQL Server were chosen given the availability and site licensure of the Microsoft platform in university settings. They were not chosen because we love Microsoft.

  16. How is the database licensed?

    Through your university’s SQL Server license.

  17. The University has implemented Peoplesoft Human Resources and Peoplesoft Financial and Grants within the next 1-2 years. Please describe how application will interface with these products.

    The short answer is that the application works off a small number of master extracts from your business systems, whether they be legacy systems, Banner, PeopleSoft or something else. We have experience with all the aforementioned named systems, and we have done implementations at six different universities. We went with a nightly refreshed master extract approach after seeing both the inter-application and the intra-application variability at different universities. Indeed we can link to your database structures via database views in real time, but this has proven to be less advantageous than the other approach, and this is not because it is better for us, but because it has been better for you, the client.

  18. How are users authenticated? Are electronic or digital signatures used by your application? Does application provide role-based security? Please provide details on security tables and features.

    Users can be authenticated by your LDAP server, or we can integrate with your Active Directory. We are experienced in both of these methods and if you have neither of these functionalities implemented then we have full and complete stand-alone login system which you can utilize. Even though you may authenticate for FAIR usage against your University’s existing User ID and password process, or by other credentialing method such as network logon, the system has its own application security that can and will be completely administered by the system owners. There are three levels of security administration. Firstly, a user must be activated for system use, and secondly they must have the appropriate security role or security access level, and thirdly the user must have access to the unit data in question. Most of the above items pertain to the administrative staff, which may have a sphere of responsibility over an entire college, campus, or may require access to multiple discrete departments (Theatre and Dance for example). Individual faculty users will have their own security role and will have access exclusively to their own records. Throughout, our emphasis has remained on making it as easy as possible for individual faculty to enter and sign off on their effort reporting.

  19. What input controls have been put in place to assure accurate and complete data?

    Extensive real-time validation of entered data is currently in place and will continue in the web-based environment. To minimize input error most data will is pre-loaded by the system, and will be controlled by validation tables that make input data accessible by drop-down lists. As part of the batch processes, record templates excluding current courses can be generated from previous records, then mated with the current course information from your student information system. Utilizing confirmation style effort reporting for grants based on payroll information (and the corresponding payroll loads) will facilitate the ability to minimize user input and to maximize completeness of data presented for certification.
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