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:
Each principle includes a Rationale--why the principle is necessary--
and a set of practical Implications.
- General -- Apply across the other categories
- Data -- Information assets of the University
- Applications -- Software or business systems that process data
- Infrastructure -- Underlying technologies that link data and applications,
including hardware, software, and communications
- Organization -- People and structures
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.
Information technology infrastructure, applications, and data must be
managed as University assets.
University priorities and functionality determine investments in
administrative information technology.
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
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.
Investment decisions (even those not to take action) must be based on business need,
cost-effectiveness, and consistency with standards and models.
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.
University administrative data must be accurate and collected in a timely
University administrative data must be safe from harm
and when confidential, accessible only to those with a "need to know."
University administrative data must be easy to access for all groups of
authorized users regardless of their level of technical expertise.
Penn must plan for multiple uses of University administrative data,
including operations, management decision making, planning, and ad hoc reporting.
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.
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.
Detailed information about University administrative data must be
created, maintained and made available.
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."
Applications must be easily adaptable to
changing business and technical requirements.
Applications must use a common base of well-defined
University data and reference a common
Applications must help ensure valid, consistent, and secure data.
Academic functions and administrative systems must share common data, voice,
and video telecommunications infrastructures.
The telecommunications infrastructure must be
standardized to allow reliable, easy interaction among
individuals, work groups, departments, schools, and centers.
The telecommunications infrastructure must
comply with national and international standards that allow
reliable, easy interaction with those communities.
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.
Penn must devote appropriate, coordinated effort to
evaluating and piloting emerging technologies.
Data stewards are responsible for ensuring the appropriate documentation,
collection, storage, and use of the data within their purview.
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.
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.
Schools and administrative centers are responsible for
creating data and using information technology to meet the
objectives of their organizations.