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Information Strategy

Information Principles

The University of Melbourne has nine Information Management Principles (draft as at April 2005), underpinned by nine Information Technology (IT) Principles.

Both sets of principles form part of our Information Strategy and are intended to govern our approach to managing information and ICT to enable the core activities of the enterprise: teaching, learning and research; and to promote efficient and effective management and administration.

In brief, the Nine Information Management Principles are:

  • Principle 1: Information is a strategically important resource
  • Principle 2: Enterprise information will be centrally managed
  • Principle 3: University information will be accurate
  • Principle 4: University information will have an identified source and custodian
  • Principle 5: Information and information systems will be easily accessible
  • Principle 6: Information management will comply with statutory requirements
  • Principle 7: Information will be managed according to agreed security, archiving and disposal regimes
  • Principle 8: The University is committed to an open information policy process
  • Principle 9: Information management principles are supported by IT principles

More detail is given below, and references to existing University of Melbourne policies are included in the Appendix.

IT Principles are at http://www.unimelb.edu.au/infostrategy/policies/it_principles.html

Information and Communications Technology

1. Information is a strategically important resource

The University of Melbourne recognises the importance of information as a strategic university-wide resource; that will be managed responsibly.

Implications:

  1. The University will develop an Information Strategy to guide Information Management
  2. The Information Strategy will include appropriate governance frameworks and will support the University’s strategic objectives and major activities of teaching, learning, research, and administration
  3. The Information Division will work with the University community to develop sustainable information and ICT architecture, infrastructure and services to support the University’s strategic objectives and major activities
  4. Information management requirements will be identified as part of strategic and project planning and will be embedded into all new University activities
  5. All members of the University community are accountable for responsible information management
  6. The University will provide an ongoing development program to encourage knowledge and information sharing, to educate regarding information management responsibilities, and to enable staff and students to create, access, manage and disseminate information resources effectively

2. Enterprise information will be centrally managed

Information assets that support the core activities of the enterprise will be maintained by systems that are centrally managed, such as data warehouses, designated enterprise information systems, and a university-wide electronic document and records management system

Implications:

  1. Enterprise information and enterprise information systems will be managed according to University defined standards of availability, data integrity and data loss, and support. This could mean that some enterprise systems will require 24x7 availability and out of hours support, whereas other systems must ensure absolute data integrity and no loss of data at any time. (see Principle 3)
  2. Enterprise information systems and data storage facilities will be built on robust, documented and sustainable information, ICT and service architectures that enable data sharing and management reporting
  3. Examples of enterprise systems at the University are Themis HR, Themis Finance, the Learning Management System, the Content Management System, the Research Management System, the Integrated Library Management System, The University of Melbourne ePrints Repository (UMER), the Student Information System
  4. Examples of enterprise information assets that should be created once and shared, are individual and departmental names, titles, and locations; details of academic research output and CV’s; policies and procedures
  5. Scholarly information assets such as research output and data, both raw and published; and learning objects form another class of information assets requiring management as agreed by the University informed by national and international standards and best practice
  6. There are potential areas of conflict between this principle and some of our IT principles i.e.: IT that is flexible; IT that fosters innovation; IT that is responsive and IT that accommodates diversity. Centrally-managed systems, while contributing to efficiency and effectiveness by reducing duplication, and facilitating management reporting, can limit flexibility, agility and innovation. This potential conflict will need to be managed appropriately as Principle 2 is implemented

3. University information will be accurate

Information provided by The University of Melbourne will be accurate and maintained with integrity over time. Where the information is sourced from outside the University, all reasonable care will be taken to ensure its accuracy and integrity.

Implications

  1. The accuracy of university-provided information should be made obvious to its users, for example by providing clear statements about information ownership (see Principle 4), and date of last revision, with agreed standards of currency and timeliness being met for each information type
  2. The trustworthiness of University-provided information should be a prime requirement in systems design and will include agreed standards relating to loss or alteration of critical enterprise information; access controls, systems security, audit trails and good contextual metadata about the information (e.g. who created it, when and for what purpose)

4. University information will have an identified source and custodian

University-created corporate information should be made available from a single identifiable and accurate core source or a derived source. The core source for any item of university-created information must be identifiable and accessible, and derived information must be identified as such. In general, changes should only be made to the core source. University-created corporate information should have an identified custodian, an identified access community and an identified set of maintenance responsibilities. This principle has most relevance to corporate and administrative information.

Implications:

  1. When changes are made to a core source derived manifestations should be automatically re-generated. For example, the core source could be a data warehouse or an enterprise system such as Themis-HR which can then supply information about staff members to a range of other systems as derived information. Any changes to derived information must then be made in the data warehouse or in Themis-HR
  2. Derived sources must be identified as such. Information derived from a core source should be identified as derived information, and a link (where possible) provided to the core source (with details about how to change it, or the process for review).
  3. The primary sources for corporate university documents should be formats that support single-source publishing; for example a database that allows Print, HTML and PDF versions to be automatically derived from the core source as required. This system would streamline production of administrative information and journals such as UniNews in online and print forms, while alleviating the risk of out of date information due to multiple formats being maintained by different custodians in different locations
  4. Where the core information or business record is in paper form, the notion of a single source can be applied to ensure that the archival version of something like a committee document is retained centrally, while allowing the committee members’ copies to be destroyed as the disposal guidelines determine
  5. Custodians will manage and update information according to schedules, business rules and governance frameworks that meet the needs of the enterprise

5. Information and information systems will be easily accessible

All information should be easily available and accessible to the University community; ideally to anybody, at anytime, anywhere. Information, and the way it is managed, should also contribute to the productivity of the University.

Information, information systems and services will be designed (or re-designed) in line with user-and task-centred design principles and accessibility guidelines.

Implications

  1. The default for University information will be that it is easily available to anyone who requires it (particularly in an online environment)
  2. Online information will be easy and transparent, using open and integrated systems, with accurate search facilities, agreed taxonomy/ classification schema, standard interfaces and tools, with similar information presented in the same way
  3. User-centred design principles and accessibility guidelines will inform development of all new systems and services including web-based information systems
  4. Evaluation from a user perspective (both for usability and accessibility) will be part of the decision-making process for all new systems and services, particularly web-based information systems
  5. Information should be accessible from as many network-enabled and/or wireless locations as possible
  6. Information architecture will be prioritised for ability to support teaching, learning and research; including innovative and emerging access devices and methods
  7. Information management processes will efficient and effective, supported by “smart’ technologies allowing, for instance, auto-generation of metadata and auto archiving
  8. New information systems and services should not create additional workload for staff or students, unless there is a significant business benefit, for example:

Allowing individuals to manage their own personal information online, thus enhancing accuracy and timeliness; or

Implementing an electronic documents and records management system and assigning metadata to business records to support better retrieval; and ensuring documents are appropriately retained, archived and disposed of in accordance with statutory and legal discovery requirements.

6. Information management will comply with relevant statutory requirements

Information will be managed in accordance with relevant ethical and statutory requirements; for example Copyright, Privacy and Freedom of Information legislation; records management policies; and national and international standards and best practice relating to information management.

Implications

  1. Information must be stored in such a way as to allow a timely response to freedom of information and local requests, as well as legally-mandated controlled discovery
  2. The University will manage personal information in a consistent manner to facilitate and evaluate statutory compliance
  3. Information arising from research involving human subjects must comply with Ethics Committee requirements
  4. Software and other Licenses and contracts will be checked for Australian and state compliance and will be held centrally as business records
  5. Information will be managed to support efficient discovery, disposal, archiving and subsequent rediscovery in accordance with accepted records and document management practices and statutory requirements. For example students should be able to easily locate policies and underpinning legislation online. Policies should also have an identified custodian, date of last review and process for change. (see Principle 4)
  6. All members of the University community are accountable to ensure ethical information use
  7. Ability to comply with Freedom of Information requests should be a requirement for process design and any new information system
  8. Systems, networks, policies and communication to staff and students will designed to ensure information use within appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks and guidelines to those frameworks will be made available

7. Information will be managed according to agreed retention, archiving and disposal regimes

Essential information must be retained and disposed of in accordance with The University of Melbourne standards and external obligations. The University of Melbourne Archives will retain an agreed proportion of University information, forming the organisation’s captured corporate memory. While it is retained, it must be managed in such a way as to be recoverable in the event of loss on a timescale consistent with university requirements.

Implications

  1. Retention, archiving and disposal regimes for different classes of information will be known and applied across the University and staff made aware of the regimes (as part of induction or refresher training). Where possible, these regimes should be built into information management software.
  2. Critical university information stored on local desktops, where it may never be backed up, should be relocated to central storage then backed up to an alternative location on a schedule and in a way that is agreed with its business owners.

8. The University is committed to an open information policy process

The University is committed to the principle of an open information policy process, and will lead by example in information and knowledge sharing as part of the policy development process

Implications

  1. The University community will be given opportunities to participate in development of the Information Strategy and Information Principles
  2. Information Principles and Policies will be regularly assessed for effectiveness in supporting productive information creation and use according to a formal review cycle

9. Information Management Principles are supported by IT Principles

Information Management Principles are supported by IT Principles and will be implemented in a manner consistent with IT Principles as far as possible.

Implications

  1. Where there is a conflict between Information Management and IT Principles an appropriate balance that supports productive information creation and use will be found. For example a conflict may arise in balancing efficient central information management with IT that is flexible and that fosters innovation and accommodates diversity.

APPENDIX – NOTES AND POLICIES

The University of Melbourne Information Management Principles are based on work done in 2004 by a representative working group from across the University, subsequently amended with significant input from Monash’s Information Management (IM) Principles.

Standards Australia define data, information and knowledge as a continuum in which data is “any manifestation…, that in context may form the basis of information”, Information is “data in a context to which meaning has been attributed” and knowledge is “a body of understanding and skills that is constructed by people”. Knowledge management is then defined as “a multi-disciplined approach to achieving organisational objectives by making the best use of knowledge” with two common approaches:

  • Focus on the capture of explicit knowledge (that has been recorded as information in a document, image, or other medium) and sharing this via technology; and
  • Focus on managing tacit knowledge (that resides in a persons mind and may include aspects of culture of ways of doing) and creating new knowledge.

While the primary focus of these principles is on assisting the University to manage contextual explicit knowledge or information efficiently and effectively, the principles also support knowledge sharing and the University’s strategic objectives and major activities of teaching, learning, research, and knowledge creation.

Details of applicable information policies can be found at http://www.unimelb.edu.au/infostrategy/policies/index.html

Below are references to the University’s Records Management Policy and Procedures Manual

Standards Australia . (2003). AS 5037(Int)-2003: Knowledge Management: Interim Australian Standard. December 12, 2004 from Standards Online Premium http://online.standards.com.au.mate.lib.unimelb.edu.au/online/autologin.asp

Principle 3. Information provided by the University will be accurate

Section 3.9 Security and electronic records:
Chapter 4 Access, Privacy and Freedom of Information
Chapter 5 Records Disposal.

Principle 4. Information will be generated from a single source and will have an identified custodian
Chapter 2 Identifying Records

Principle 5. Information and information systems will be easily accessible Chapter 3 How to Establish and Manage a Recordkeeping System
Chapter 6 Committee Papers

 Principle 6. Information management will comply with relevant statutory requirements
Chapter 4 Access, Privacy and Freedom of Information
Chapter 7 Research Data and Records
Chapter 9 Student Records

Standards Australia . (2003). AS 5037(Int)-2003: Knowledge Management: Interim Australian Standard. December 12, 2004 from Standards Online Premium http://online.standards.com.au.mate.lib.unimelb.edu.au/online/autologin.asp

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