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Major review

We will launch a major review when a significant opportunity arises to create value for our customers and stakeholders.

A major review is an investigatory project that creates a business case for change. In some cases the purpose of the review is to develop and ensure the on-going integrity of an existing record or records. In other cases, there may be a different justification for a review, such as an opportunity to create value by using new technology, a new situation in national policy, or a newly identified opportunity to gather and use data to the advantage of our users.

As well as reviewing exactly what information is collected, major reviews also enable consideration of the fundamental design of a record including its structure, data items, timing, and consistency with external standards.

A major review can be called whenever the evidence supports one. A major review will normally take approximately a year to complete.

How is a major review initiated?

A major review requires two initiation documents:

  • A remit for the review draws together the evidence available from a wide range of sources to make a case for conducting a review and to describe its parameters. The remit will draw on the available evidence and literature, and will pose questions that the review will answer.
  • Terms of reference specify how the review will operate, who will be involved and what activities will be undertaken. The roles and groups to be established under the review are specified and their responsibilities determined.

Once the above documents are approved by senior management at HESA, public communication and recruitment to the roles and groups identified will proceed.

What process is followed during a major review?

Major reviews deal with concerns that are fundamental in nature and are not immediately constrained by resource considerations. At the outset, further evidence will be produced to promote discussion and debate. This might include:

  • Summaries of deferred change requests received by us over the preceding period
  • Papers outlining issues that should be considered
  • A vision statement or a provocation outlining possible futures.

Venues for debate will vary, but may include:

  • Discussion forums either by invitation or on an open basis
  • Engagement with stakeholders through conferences and seminars
  • ‘Think tank’ events
  • Consultation exercises.

This process is designed to test the remit and to develop solutions and proposals. It will also assess the viability, risks and benefits of these solutions and proposals.

The process requires engagement from all principal stakeholders. It will therefore typically be the case that major reviews will require substantial involvement from:

  • Representatives in the HE sector drawn from representatives of data subjects
  • HE providers
  • Statutory bodies
  • Data management professionals
  • Professional bodies connected with the subject matter
  • Any other principal stakeholders identified in the Terms of Reference.

Reviews will be conducted in an open and transparent way, and we will make information available as the review progresses.

What are the outcomes from a major review?

The purpose of a review is to answer the questions defined in the initial remit, and through this process to make a case for change.

The review produces a business case that demonstrates how value will be created. The business case format identifies the resources required to make a change and the benefits that will follow. In cases where investment is required to make the benefits available, this format allows for onward presentation to appropriate forums where resources can be secured.

The business case will include:

  • A statement of the problem to be solved (this may be drawn extensively from the remit)
  • Identification of the features that a viable solution will have
  • An appraisal of the various options
  • A risk assessment
  • A value analysis
  • Recommendations.

The business case will serve the objective of obtaining the support and resources necessary for delivery.

When the business case has completed its work of securing resources, definitive statements about implementation can be made and a definitive summary of changes produced.