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Cornerstone

The Cornerstone Principles

The Cornerstone principles are the foundation for administrative computing standards and long-term planning for administrative systems. Ratified in a series of public discussions with the Penn community, the principles are meant to serve as a framework for administrative decision-making, a guide to action, and a mechanism for clarifying and resolving conflicts. Policies, standards, models, methodologies, plans, and programs will be derived from the principles. Some of the principles may be relevant to Penn's research and instructional missions as well.

Five categories of principles are outlined below:

  1. General -- Apply across the other categories
  2. Data -- Information assets of the University
  3. Applications -- Software or business systems that process data
  4. Infrastructure -- Underlying technologies that link data and applications, including hardware, software, and communications
  5. Organization -- People and structures
Each principle includes a Rationale--why the principle is necessary-- and a set of practical Implications.

A high-level summary of the principles that appeared "Of Record" in the December 13, 1994 issue of Almanac is available for all readers.

Further details are provided below.

1. General

Principle 1 - University assets
Information technology infrastructure, applications, and data must be managed as University assets.
Principle 2 - Functional requirements
University priorities and functionality determine investments in administrative information technology.
Principle 3 - Cost-effectiveness
Information technology must contribute to the cost-effectiveness of the functions it supports and must be cost- effective from the perspective of the University as a whole.
Principle 4 - Policies, standards, and models
Policies, standards, models, and methodologies-based on the principles outlined here-govern the acquisition and use of data and information technology. Regular update and communication are required.
Principle 5 - Investment criteria
Investment decisions (even those not to take action) must be based on business need, cost-effectiveness, and consistency with standards and models.
Principle 6 - Training and support
Penn must put sufficient effort into ongoing support of its information technology assets. Skills and experiences from across the University must be leveraged and communication channels opened.

2. Data

Principle 7 - Accuracy
University administrative data must be accurate and collected in a timely way.
Principle 8 - Security and confidentiality
University administrative data must be safe from harm and when confidential, accessible only to those with a "need to know."
Principle 9 - Ease of access
University administrative data must be easy to access for all groups of authorized users regardless of their level of technical expertise.
Principle 10 - Multiple uses
Penn must plan for multiple uses of University administrative data, including operations, management decision making, planning, and ad hoc reporting.
Principle 11 - Purposeful collection
A given set of data should be collected once, from the source, and only if there is a business need for the data.

Note: The source is the person or reference that is able to confirm the data as fact.

Principle 12 - Common Base of data
A common base of data must be created to allow sharing, control redundancy and satisfy retention requirements.

Note: Although it may span multiple physical locations, this base is logically "common" in that the elements have a common definition and may be shared by multiple applications. This common base would include all University data regardless of which application creates or how many applications use the data.

Principle 13 - Documentation
Detailed information about University administrative data must be created, maintained and made available.

3. Applications

Principle 14 - Ease of use
Applications must be easy to use for both novice and expert users. Interfaces should be similar enough to present a reasonably consistent "look and feel."
Principle 15 - Adaptability
Applications must be easily adaptable to changing business and technical requirements.
Principle 16 - Data sharing
Applications must use a common base of well-defined University data and reference a common repository.
Principle 17 - Ensuring data quality
Applications must help ensure valid, consistent, and secure data.

4. Infrastructure

Principle 18 - Common communications infrastructure
Academic functions and administrative systems must share common data, voice, and video telecommunications infrastructures.
Principle 19 - Communications within the University
The telecommunications infrastructure must be standardized to allow reliable, easy interaction among individuals, work groups, departments, schools, and centers.
Principle 20 - Communications outside the University
The telecommunications infrastructure must comply with national and international standards that allow reliable, easy interaction with those communities.
Principle 21 - Hardware and software choices
Hardware and software for administrative use must be limited to predetermined set of alternatives. This includes the end-user's desktop, application or software servers, communications components, applications development tools, and data management tools.
Principle 22 - Emerging technologies
Penn must devote appropriate, coordinated effort to evaluating and piloting emerging technologies.

5. Organization

Principle 23 - Data stewards
Data stewards are responsible for ensuring the appropriate documentation, collection, storage, and use of the data within their purview.
Principle 24 - Process owners
Process owners are responsible for developing and maintaining the standards, structures, and business applications that ensure the quality and cost-effectiveness of specific administrative processes.
Principle 25 - Information Systems and Computing (ISC)
Information Systems and Computing provides leadership, infrastructure, standards, services, and coordination that permit Penn to take full advantage of its data and information technology assets.
Principle 26 - Schools and administrative centers
Schools and administrative centers are responsible for creating data and using information technology to meet the objectives of their organizations.
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