General Questions

Reporting Related

Working With Data




What is Activity Insight?

Activity Insight is a hosted software solution (online database), produced by Watermark Faculty Success, designed to securely and easily collect information about faculty achievements (e.g. teaching, research and publication, and service and engagement). It also provides the MSU with a source for appropriately authorized individuals to run both pre-formatted and ad hoc reports, thus reducing the need to constantly send out requests for additional or supplementary information to units or faculty (as long as they have already entered/curated the data in their AI profile).

How secure is Activity Insight?

Watermark Faculty Success has taken many steps to create a safe environment for your information while still making it easy for you to securely access it.

For more information about our security practices and policies, see Serious Security.

Who owns my data and what can Watermark Faculty Success do with it?

All data provided by and collected for MSU by Watermark Faculty Success are solely owned by MSU. As per the terms in Watermark Faculty Success' standard service agreement, your data cannot be disclosed, reused, sold, or disseminated in any way by Watermark Faculty Success. Further, per our standard service agreement, Watermark Faculty Success legally agrees to take steps to protect your confidential data just as we would any confidential data belonging to us.

How many years of data must be entered into Activity Insight?

The short answer is that we would like to have at least the last three years of data available. That said, the immediate interest is in having complete faculty information for the current faculty annual review period. As we are now beyond the point of simply meeting that immediate need in a relatively short time frame, we hope that faculty will take some time to back-fill earlier data. Of course, the bottom line is that the more complete (breadth and depth) your profile the more useful and valid it will be for reporting purposes (providing you with a cv, and complete and accurate NSF and/or NIH Biographical Sketches).

 What browsers are supported by Activity Insight?

Activity Insight works on all (mainstream) and current browsers. If you are experiencing any "glitchy" behavior, please make sure the browser you are using is the most current version. As of 1/5/2016, and based on Microsoft's termination of support for Internet Explorer 9 and 10, Watermark Faculty Success has declared that it will only be supporting IE 11 and Microsoft Edge.

Can we prepare CVs with Activity Insight?

Yes. Watermark Faculty Success provides an "out-of-the-box" vita template.

You can also define (and save) a custom CV template, if the default Watermark Faculty Success one does not meet your needs. To do this, click on the reports link in the blue header bar. Then from the Reports page, click the "+ Create a New Report" link in the upper right corner of the window. In the pop-up window, select the Vita icon. You can add, delete, and move data elements around from there. Additional, more detailed information is available at

Who can see data in Activity Insight and reports generated from it?

You, your academic leadership chain, and other university level administrators responsible for fulfilling various reporting needs. Security roles are assigned to each individual based on their need to have access to faculty information. These are some of the security role configurations we have established:

  • Faculty are only able to run reports on their own data
  • The department head/chair/campus director/school director and their designee (typically their Admin Associate II/III) are able to see profiles and run reports for the individuals in their own department
  • The deans and one or two designated individuals within their college are able to see the profiles and run reports for the individuals in their own college
  • There is a limited "Run University Custom Reports" security role that allows a very few individuals run a defined selection of custom reports at various unit levels
  • Designated individuals in the Provost's Office and the Office of Planning & Analysis are able to see the profiles of, and run reports for/on all Activity insight users on campus.

Can we prepare different custom reports per academic unit?

Yes. Custom reports can be built into the system for each college. This allows each of your colleges produce custom annual activity reports and CVs, for example. We are also able to define reports for individual schools/departments/campuses, but be aware that other departments within your college will also have access to see/run that report (but only on the faculty assigned to their own unit).

Can we submit new reports to be built into the system?

Yes. We can add, revise and remove reports at any time. Please work with the MSU Activity Insight Administrator ([email protected]) to define, submit or revise reports you would like to have available.

How do we get data into Activity Insight?

There are three ways to get data into Activity Insight.

Web services allow systems to "talk" with one another. For example, we have Activity Insight connected to Banner via web services to push data into Activity Insight about each of the courses that faculty teach, relieving you from entering this information manually.

The second way to get data into Activity Insight is by loading the information from files that we are able to export from other systems. To do this, we submit an import file in comma-delimited (.csv) format or a file that meets these two (and a half) conditions:

  • Every column in the file needs to "map" to exactly one field in the system
  • Every row in the file needs to have a unique identifier that matches an individual's account in the system (new accounts can always be created)
  • Records they will be updated need to have a primary key defined (typically a combination of fields/data elements) that uniquely identify each individual record

* If you are interested in loading data via a .csv file, please contact the campus AI Administrator ([email protected]) for a template. Also keep in mind the relative time and effort required to get data in using this method versus the final method below. In other words, unless you already have the individual data elements in a spreadsheet, it may take more time and effort to get it into the correct format to load from a .csv file, then to enter the data directly into Activity Insight data capture screens.

Finally, individuals can enter their own data directly in to the "Manage Your Activities" screens by dragging and dropping from the Paste Board or by typing into the screen fields.

The reality is that there is a lot of data about individual faculty members activities that only they know, thus the only way we can "know" about and report on it is if they enter it.

How can we get data out of Activity Insight?

One of the reasons we have adopted Activity insight is because of the relative ease with which we can get data out of it (certainly when compared to the FAD and Banner). The bottom line is that any data put into Activity Insight can also come out. There are essentially two ways to get data out of Activity Insight:

  • Custom reports

    Watermark Faculty Success makes it relatively easy to build complex, custom reports for our accrediting bodies, campus and other stakeholders. Because Watermark Faculty Success digitizes the actual reports you need to prepare and uses the same specific data elements, calculations and formatting of the reports that you provide to us, building these reports is no longer a chore. When you click to run a report with Activity Insight, the report is then built in real-time using all data entered as of that instant.
  • Ad hoc reports (not available to individual faculty)

    Activity Insight's ad hoc reporting tool allows you to easily select the exact data elements you would like from those collected in the system. You can select the date range and whether you want to include data from all of your faculty and staff or only data from particular colleges, schools, departments or units.

How long does the data we put in Activity Insight stay in the system?

All information entered into Activity Insight is always available. Even though our faculty change over time, keeping information for those individuals who are no longer with your campus is still important for preparing accurate historical reports on our campus' productivity.

The information on my Education screen is incorrect or not there. How do I fix that?

If your educational history is incorrect or incomplete, please download, fill out, and submit the Degree History Form. If you have difficulties submitting the form with the “Submit” button, e-mail the form to [email protected].

We ask you to go through this process rather than open the fields directly to you in Activity Insight because the principal repository for this information is Banner. If we allowed individuals to directly input/modify their degree history in Activity Insight, it would not be in sync with Banner (the "authoritative" database). When you submit the Degree history Form, we create/update the data in both Banner and Activity Insight.

The courses listed for me on the Scheduled Teaching screen are incorrect. How do I get that corrected?

Data for the Scheduled Teaching screen (what you teach each semester) is loaded from Banner via web services after census (~15th class day) each semester. If for some reason you have not been associated with a given course in Banner (it shows up in the schedule of classes with "Staff" as the instructor, for instance - this is a departmental responsibility) then it will not load into your profile.

To correct this, please contact the Registrar’s Office (and cc: [email protected]) to make sure that you are correcly listed as an instructor for the course in Banner. They will need the last four digits of your GID, the course rubric and number, semester it was taught, and CRN. If/once they makes the changes in Banner, let us know and we will create the record for you.

Additionally, please be aware that courses identified in Banner as "Independent Study" and "Internship" are excluded by the script that loads courses into the scheduled teaching screen. This is the case because the preponderance of those courses are either assigned to "Staff" and/or are variable credit courses (which does not fit with the structure of that screen). If you teach a course designated as "Independent Study" or "internship" please create records for those courses on the Directed Student Learning screen.

Why do I have to enter the Course Evaluation information on the Scheduled Teaching screens? Can't you load that data from ITC Testing Services?

Thus far, we have not been successful in working with ITC's course evaluation software vendor to develop a report that will allow us to export course evaluation data from their system in a format that we can use to upload it into Activity Insight on your behalf. We will continue to investigate possible ways to accomplish this, but there is no solution on the immediate horizon.

How come some of my grants do not show up on the Grants & Sponsored Research, Contracts, Fellowships screen?

This data feeds directly from banner via a web services load every evening and is initiated by the submission of the electronic Proposal Clearance Form (ePCF). If a grant does not show up in your profile after the PCF is submitted, or a grant is listed in your profile that should not be associated with you, please contact the grant Fiscal manager in the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) to get the data corrected in banner. The refreshed information will load in Activity Insight that evening.

Also keep in mind that if you have a grant or contract (typically and internal grant) that does not go through OSP via their Proposal Clearance Form process it will not show up on this screen (principally because it probably does not exist in Banner). You will need to enter the data for these grants on the "Research in Progress & Other Funded Activities (not funded through the Office of Sponsored programs)" screen.

The number of undergraduate students I advise is incorrectly listed on the Academic Advising screen. How can I get that information updated?

The number of undergraduate students advised will be pulled from Banner around the start of the pre-registration period during the fall and spring semesters. If the number does not match what you think it should be, please ask your departmental administrative staff to make sure that students are accurately assigned to you as their advisor in Banner (this is a departmental responsibility).

Why aren't some of my graduate students showing up, or showing up with the wrong start date on my "Graduate Committees, Dissertations, and Theses" screen?

The Graduate committee assignments in Activity Insight are populated by data from the Banner ERP. The Graduate School enters the data in Banner based on the submission of Program of Study & Committee Forms and any subsequent Committee Revision Forms. If a student has not yet submitted their Program of Study & Committee form (Master's students must submit by the end of their second semester, Doctoral students by the end of their third Semester at MSU) neither the graduate school nor Banner have any record that you are on that student's committee. So, despite the fact that you may have "brought in" a graduate student to work with you, until they submit the form and it is entered in Banner, that student will not show up on the list in your "Graduate Committee..." screen.

That being said, if you do have a graduate student working in your lab or on a Research/Teaching Appointment, you can identify that element of your interaction with him/her on the Directed Student Learning screen

How do I get special characters to show up in my Activity Insight output?

Some/many unicode characters, e.g. letters with accent aigu/grave, etc., can be entered into Activity Insight data fields using "ALT+####" key codes. Addiitonal information and common symbol character codes can be found at
For superscript and subscript, you will need to enter html tags in the data entery fields, but will render correctly on reports and faculty web profiles. To display text as suprscript, place it between the <sup> and </sup> tags. For subscript, place the characters/text between the <sub> and </sub> tags.

Who should be loaded into Activity Insight?

All tenured and tenure-track faculty should have profiles created in Activity Insight. Generally speaking, the Office of Planning & Analysis will work with HR to try identify T/TT faculty as they are hired and build profiles for them. It is not inconceivable (particularly for mid year hires) that a new hire may get missed. This is not the end of the world. Please notify the AI campus administrator ([email protected]) and we will set up a profile in short order.

Additionally, we build profiles for all non-tenure track (NTT) faculty at 0.5 FTE or greater. This population is a little trickier to keep track of as they may initially be hired below the 0.5 FTE floor, then increase their FTE above the floor at some point later in their career at MSU. Departmental staff can assist us by occasionally running the Faculty/Staff Directory (in the Run Custom Reports section) and letting us know if there are people missing who should have profiles built for them.

Next, we have some post-docs with profiles in Activity Insight. If your department/unit/center is interested in keeping track of post-doc activities via AI, please let us know and we will be happy to build profiles for them.

Finally, if departments have NTT faculty who are appointed at less than 0.5 FTE, but you would like them to use Activity Insight anyway to track their activities (or have a more comprehensive listing of such activities as courses taught by the department), again, let the campus administrator know who you would like to have added, and we will be happy to do so.

Why do I still see people on my list (for department heads, deans, and designees) who are no longer at MSU?

While we can delete profiles, only in very rare cases might we do so. Accounts will only be deleted when we no longer need the data stored for the account to be retained. For example, if we delete an account of a grant active faculty member who is no longer at MSU and her department runs a report on their grant productivity over the past three years, the result will under represent their actual productivity as the departed faculty member's grant data will no longer exist in Activity Insight (if she was a sole PI). Disabling an account retains all data for the account, allowing accurate historical reports to be prepared, but it changes the account in two notable ways:

  • The account can no longer log in to the system.
  • If you use the copy forward feature on the Manage Data - Administrative Data screen, the account's administrative data will not be copied forward.

I just came from another institution where we also used Activity Insight. Do I need to recreate everything I already had in their system?

Hopefully not. Contact the MSU AI campus administrator ([email protected]) with your name and previous institution. We will contact our Solution Specialist at Watermark Faculty Success who will contact the campus administrator at your previous institution to inquire if they would be willing to allow Watermark Faculty Success to copy your profile from their instance and load it into the MSU instance. If your previous institution agrees, Watermark Faculty Success typically gets the profiles copied over in ten business days or less.

I cannot login to the system, who should I contact?

If you have logged into Activity Insight at some point in the past it is most likely that you may have mistyped your NetID or it is a password issue. Please go to to reset your password.

If you have never logged into Activity Insight before, please first check with your departmental admin to make sure a profile has been built for you (they can log in and see if you have a profile associated with their unit). If not, please contact the campus administrator ([email protected]) and we will create a profile for you. If your admin verifies that you do have an active profile, it is likely a NetID/password issue. Please go to to see your NetID and reset your password. If you continue to have problems logging in, please contact the AI campus administrator.

Will there be any help/training sessions available?

Yes. We will schedule some "open enrollment" help sessions for late in the fall semester and early in the spring semester. If departments would like to schedule a help session for their assembled faculty, we are happy to work to accommodate their scheduling interests. Please contact the campus administrator ([email protected]) to inquire further.

Who should I contact for additional help?

Lost and overwhelmed? Contact the AI campus administrator at 994-2677 or [email protected] and we'll get you taken care of.