NZQA moves to the cloud with Qrious and Snowflake

NZQA moves to the cloud with Qrious and Snowflake

Takes the first step in becoming an ‘intelligence-led’ organisation.

L-R: Andrew Smith, Paul Fernyhough (NZQA)

L-R: Andrew Smith, Paul Fernyhough (NZQA)

Credit: Supplied

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has engaged Qrious for a Snowflake cloud-based digital warehouse to take its first steps towards becoming an "intelligence-led" organisation.

Specifically, Qrious developed an upgraded digital National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) experience and centralised reporting and analytics capability with the digital warehouse.

NZQA, which administers the NCEA programme across New Zealand, Niue and the Cook Islands for approximately 140,000 students, needed to bring all of its data sources under one roof to improve the NCEA digital experience, including course enrolment, assessments, exams and marking. 

As NZQA has increasingly adopted digital processes, its legacy suite of applications and monolithic database could no longer handle the tracking and managing of processes. 

“It was relatively low tech,” said Paul Fernyhough, NZQA data architect. “We could run traditional operational reports but from a business intelligence and analytics perspective, it offered a very low level of maturity.”

With the introduction of digital processes such as online marking, scanning of exam booklets and a digital exam platform, new streams of data sources were quickly introduced. 

“It was the catalyst for us to build a cloud-based data warehouse and develop a business intelligence capability,” Fernyhough said. 

With a three-month deadline before looming 2022 end-of-year exams, NZQA partnered with Qrious to develop a data platform that could provide a "single source of truth" for reporting and analytics, in line with its strategic goal to become an "intelligence-led organisation". 

Snowflake’s cloud-based data warehouse platform ticked all the boxes. Qrious’ role was to establish the Snowflake data warehouse platform and guide NZQA through the robust certification and accreditation (C&A) audits.

“Myriad compliance activities, such as a privacy impact assessment and a security risk assessment, had to be completed before we could stand the platform up and integrate it with our backend systems,” Fernyhough said. 

Qrious began by understanding what was important to the organisation and developing the concept for the finished product. Working backwards, it determined how to build it and what impact it would have on the underlying warehouse design.

“With Qrious’ support, we are starting to dip our toes in machine learning, analytics and data science; we are taking our first steps on the journey to becoming intelligence-led”, Fernyhough added. 

Last March, Qrious CEO Stephen Ponsford told Reseller News Qrious was looking to take on and deliver projects of "national significance", as well as eyeing the government's draft industry transformation plan, which identified $4.5 billion of value to be reaped from data-driven innovation.

"That's what Qrious is targeting," Ponsford said at the time. "Organisations want to know where they should be headed and what they should be thinking about."

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