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PENN Community Program Proposal

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Table of Contents

    Application Design
    Database Architecture
    Data Management Software
    Data Auditing and Correction Software
    End User Access
    End User Support


The PENN Community project is an effort to provide improved biographic, demographic and affiliation information about people who are part of the University community.   The information will be retained in a single data store and made easily assessable using standardized database architecture and query tools.  The information will be used primarily to facilitate communication (i.e., e-mail, fax, voice and physical mail) and authentication/authorization for the purpose of controlling access to services offered by the University (i.e., Computer network and building access.)

Objectives                                                                                                                    back to top

The PENN Community project has the following specific objectives:

  • Improve the clarity, depth and integrity of biographic, demographic and affiliation information beyond what is available from the PENNcard System.  Make this information accessible to administrators to support the most common communication and authentication/authorization needs at the University.
  • Reduce complexity of the PENNcard System by segregating PENN Community responsibilities from it.  Some important features of  the proposed PENN Community application are now performed by the PENNcard System.  PENNcard has become a mission critical application system and plays an important role in many administrative processes at the University.  Therefore, care must be taken to ensure that PENNcard and all of its dependent systems and interfaces continue to operate properly as it becomes a “customer” of information provided by PENN Community.
  • Enable addition and maintenance of new University affiliates when a reliable source of data can be provided.  This will allow administrators to control access to their services with less effort, and permit community members to have smoother and speedier access to services.
  • Provide attentive stewardship for information contained within the PENN Community application to ensure its day-to-day integrity and long-term evolution with changing requirements.
  • Provide information distribution and consulting services to the end user community so that they understand and use it appropriately.  End users will be charged a fee for services to defray the costs of these services.
Benefits                                                                                                                    back to top

The PENN Community project has the following benefits:

  • Improved service delivery to people affiliated with the University.
  • Opportunity to redirect a significant amount of staff effort across many offices at the University. This effort is now spent resolving clarity, depth and integrity matters with data provided by the PENNcard System.
  • Ability to affect new or changed management directives more quickly and accurately via administrative computing systems.
  • Speedier delivery and reduced costs of administrative computing services due to a commonly understood and supported core database architecture.

Scope                                                                                                                    back to top

The Penn Community project will be implemented in multiple phases.  Phase I will concentrate on development of the new database architecture and on modifying the PENNcard system to use the Penn Community database as its source for biographic, demographic and affiliation data. These must be done together in order to ensure the integrity of the relationship between Penn Community and PENNcard data. The PENNcard system will continue to use its current business rules and tables.

Phase I scope will encompass:

  • Develop Oracle database architecture for storing basic biographic, demographic, and affiliation data about people in the PENN Community.  The architecture will support on-line/printed directories and network authentication.
  • Develop interface processes for accepting and storing biographic, demographic and affiliation data from multiple systems of record.
  • Develop a web-based data entry mechanism that will allow administrators to supply biographic, demographic and affiliation data for PENN Community members that are not provided by interfaces from other systems of record.  This will replace functionality that currently exists in the PENNcard Application System.  It will be rolled out to the PENNcard office only in Phase I and will maintain data structures in both PENN Community and PENNcard applications.
  • Develop architecture and processes for identifying and resolving data errors and conflicts.
  • Develop architecture and processes for identifying “default” or “most preferred” data pertaining to individuals who have multiple affiliations with the University and thus have data supplied by multiple systems of record.
  • Converting the PENNcard system to use the PENN Community database as its source for biographic, demographic and affiliation data.
  • Assign and distribute PIN numbers for all members of the PENN Community.  PINs will be used to establish identify for the network authentication process.
  • Develop query mechanism to support self-serve usage of the information.

The scope of subsequent phases will address:

  • Roll out of PENN Community web-based data entry mechanism beyond the PENNcard Office.
  • Converting outgoing interfaces and real-time processes to use PENN Community in place of PENNcard.
  • Developing a web-based data entry mechanism to allow PENN Community members to update their contact information published in University directories.

Assumptions                                                                                                                    back to top

The following assumptions are made and pertain to all phases of the project.

  • The PENNcard office is committed to providing operational stewardship of the PENN Community application.
  • Initially, the Penn Community database will be loaded from PennCard database and retain the same key, penn_id.  It will then be kept synchronized with the PennCard database through modified PennCard data load interfaces that will get data from Penn Community.
  • Directory services can continue using the existing PENNcard architecture “as is” until Phase I is completed.
  • Network authentication services can continue using the existing PENNcard database architecture “as is” until Phase I is completed.
  • Outgoing interfaces can continue using the existing PENNcard database architecture “as is” until Phase I is completed.
  • Administrators in the field will be able and willing to perform data entry tasks for the PENN Community members who are not provided via existing systems of records.
  • Interface feeds provided by external entities will arrive on a reliable schedule and have problem solving support provided by the originators.
  • That certain University affiliations are persistent (i.e., student, employee) and for these, standards can be imposed on the originating systems to guarantee their integrity in the PENN Community database.  Likewise, other affiliations are temporary (i.e., guests, conference attendees) and its not necessary (or possible) to apply the same rules for data integrity.


The deliverables for Phase I are identified below:

Organization                                                                                                                back to top
  • Establishment of  a Stewardship committee charged with overseeing implementation of the project and its ongoing evolution to meet new and changing needs.
  • Identify and establish ongoing communication with key stakeholders regarding the project and its progress.
  • Establishment of a working group comprised of a sub set of key stakeholders to gather data and functional requirements.
  • Create and manage a project plan containing detailed tasks, resource assignments and milestones.
  • Create a proposal document that addresses subsequent phases of the project in detail.

Application Design                                                                                                     back to top

  • A data model depicting the database architecture.
  • A document specifying the functional and detailed design requirements.
  • Prototypes for web-based data entry software.
Database Architecture                                                                                                back to top
  • Oracle tables to manage biographic, demographic and affiliation data.
  • Oracle tables to support on-line/printed directories and network authentication.
  • Oracle tables to manage the conflict/error identification, resolution and notification.

Data Management Software                                                                                       back to top

  • Develop interface processes for accepting and storing biographic, demographic and affiliation data from multiple systems of record.  Phase 1 will accept data from Student Records, Payroll/Personnel and the Health System.
  • A web-based data entry application that allows the PENNcard Office to supply biographic, demographic and affiliation data for PENN Community members that are not provided by interfaces.  In subsequent phases the application can be rolled out to administrators beyond the PENNcard Office.
  • Develop infrastructure to support assignment and distribution of PINS for Network Authentication.
  • Mechanisms that allow PENN Community to access value added information created by PENNcard (i.e., University status code, card number).
  • Develop mechanisms that support the assignment of default or most appropriate information about individuals when multiple possibilities exist or attributes are in conflict.
Data Auditing and Correction Software                                                                    back to top
  • Develop mechanism to identify and suspend data containing conflicts/errors
  • Develop mechanism to resolve conflicts/errors.
  • Develop mechanism to broadcast  information about conflicts and errors to downstream systems.
End User Access                                                                                                        back to top
  • Ensure that appropriate security is applied to the data.
  • Develop a Business Objects universe for help-yourself users.
  • Ensure that help-yourself users will also be able to access the data via ODBC, SQL or PL/SQL.

End User Support                                                                                                        back to top

  • Create web-based documentation describing the database architecture and data management processes.
  • Prepare staff from ISC-Data Administration to provide data extraction and data usage consulting services.
  • Develop and implement a cost recovery strategy that will support consulting services and ongoing maintenance and development of PENN Community.
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