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Computing and Information Services

Information Systems Strategy

Durham University is facing a number of operational and strategic challenges including, an increasingly competitive environment, the need for efficiency savings, and the shifting sands of new initiatives and changing technology. One of the key ways of addressing these challenges is through improvements to our information systems. 

In September 2010, control of the University's corporate administrative systems was transferred back to the University through the CASSS project.  This provided an opportunity for the University to develop a strategic approach to the management of its information systems.  UEC requested that an Information Systems Strategy be drawn up; this was taken forward under the oversight of IT Steering Group and the Strategy was approved by Senate in March 2011.

The strategy aims to address the following issues in the management of our corporate applications:

  • Data exists in silos. At present, significant work is needed to take data from one system, manipulate it and enter it into another system. This means that staff and students have to visit multiple systems to get the information they need for daily work.
  • Data is duplicated across our systems and is inconsistent. We need to reach a position in which we hold data once but can use it many times.
  • A number of application systems across the University are supporting the same business processes but the systems are different and unconnected: we need to reduce this duplication of work.
  • We need to address new regulatory and reporting requirements as they arise. At present our ability to do this is hampered by the lack of a consistent and co-ordinated approach to information system development.
  • Supporting ICT systems need to be better integrated with work processes, practices, knowledge and skills in order to provide strategic capabilities.
  • The University needs to get good value from its investment in information systems. 

The IS Strategy

The strategy covers 6 key themes:

1. Responding to Business Need - aligning the University's IS applications to the needs of ALL users across the University

2. Data Management/Data Architecture - establishing main data storage systems with a single 'data owner' for each data source that are accessible in a secure and DPA compliant manner by users. The data owners would be named individuals who would be responsible for ensuring the integrity/quality of the data and its provision to other users for use in management reports.

3. Sustainability of Support and Management - the establishment of a standards-based approach to IT developments and the creation of a 'baseline' against which to assess new developments

4. IS Selection Strategies including out-sourcing, out-hosting and the Cloud (internet hosted IS) - to establish the assessment criteria which would deliver benefits to the University and to manage these through a coherent and secure approach

5. Co-ordinated Planning - focusing resources on developments which maximise benefits to the University at both an operational and strategic level.

6. Continuous Improvement - ensuring that provision matches business needs, student expectations and technological advances

Read the full IS Strategy