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The burden assessment methodology


The burden assessment methodology provides a transparent assessment of the impact of change to the way data is produced, processed, and consumed within the HE sector. 

This guide has been written to ensure a consistent approach to the assessment of burden. No specialist knowledge, other than an understanding of the impact of the change for your organisation, is required.


The assessment methodology has been created by drawing on existing practice at the NHS Burden Advice and Assessment Service (BAAS) and by consulting with HE providers, data collectors, and other relevant bodies such as the Office for National Statistics.

This assessment can be completed by any party involved in the production, processing, and consumption of sector data. This will include both data collectors and data providers.

The assessment process is looking to create a consensual engagement around change, based on a shared understanding of how it is being assessed and the issues that are contributing to the overall burden.


There are six lenses used in the assessment model:

  • Gathering: Any increase or decrease in the cost or effort required to gather and record data for the purpose of data collection.

  • Assurance of data quality: The cost and effort involved in checking for and correcting errors in data that has been gathered for the purpose of data collection.

  • Extraction and transformation: The cost and effort involved in drawing data directly from one or more off-line or information systems for the purpose of data collection.

  • Transmission: The cost and effort involved in the sending of data to the demand side customer.

  • System change and development: The cost and effort involved in the creation of, or changes to information systems, to meet the requirements of data collection.

  • Training and guidance: The cost and effort involved in the provision and receipt of the knowledge and skills needed to be able to comply with the requirements of data collection.

Scoring matrix

The heart of the assessment process is the scoring matrix. The assessment generates a score between zero and 10. A score of zero records no discernible change. A score between 1 and 3 is marking the change as trivial in terms of impact. A score between 4 and 7 records a cost of lost opportunity as resources/budget need to be re-allocated. A score between 8 and 10 flags a serious issue for the data request.

One of the outputs from an assessment might be a re-framing of requirements or a different solution option for multiple red categorisations.

The scoring can be undertaken at a summary level or broken down across the six lenses and the scoring should be undertaken separately for Setup (an assessment of implementing a change) and Run (an assessment of operating the new process in business as usual).

Summary assessment

The guidance helps frame what the score should be by calling out the main areas of impact. In the case of this summary example, these areas are changes in process, systems, training, and timing. Within the scoring range, the assessor should consider how close to the boundary of the next level of guidance their assessment is. 

Summary assessment – setup

Summary assessment - run

Full assessment

If a full impact assessment is needed – and this will be determined on a change by change basis as part of the wider governance process – the same approach is to be taken but on a more granular basis. The assessment is still split between setup and run, but now six ‘lenses’ categorise the change in more detail.

The boundaries between categories remain the same. The difference is the assessor needs to consider the lenses in isolation. This is not always simple as overlaps between lenses are apparent in many changes. There are additional areas in the analysis form where context or notes can be added.

Full assessment – setup

The same approach is taken when considering the assessment of run.

Full assessment - run

Onward use

The calculations of burden can be used in three specific ways:

  • To show the impact of the change both in terms of setup and run. For more complex changes, a number of burden assessments will be performed against different solution options. The desired outcome is to deliver the change at the lowest possible burden for the supply side while meeting the requirements of the demand side.
  • To understand the difference between a supply-side best practice change implementation and those assessments returned by individual providers. This both informs the best practice assessment process and demonstrates that those individual providers have the opportunity to reduce burden by moving towards this best practice.
  • To create an assessment for ‘net burden’ where the value of a change is considered against the impact using a standard methodology. This may not be applicable for all types of change.