IdM Taskforce workshop (Definitions/Governance and Toolkit)

As part of the information gathering process for the Definitions/Governance and Toolkit projects, a workshop was organised as early in the project timescale as was possible, giving the tight timescale. The workshop took place in London on 17 December 2013. The workshop sought the attendees’ opinion on the following:

  • University membership categories within HE (input into Project 6 – Licensing)
    • agree definitions of common groups of users (also input into Project 6: Licensing)
    • agree common categories of users
  • Ownership of IdM within a university and the best ways of engaging with the key IdM owners
  • Interaction of IdM/AIM systems with other institutional systems (e.g. VLE, LMS, Finance).

The attendance was relatively low but this was expected due to the workshop’s close proximity to the Christmas/ New Year holidays. However, having a small number of participants had the benefit of generating in-depth discussions on the given topics, which was very useful. All the workshop participants were representatives of the Library/IT sector, with no staff from other key institutional services, such as HR, Registry, Student Services etc. This came as no surprise as these services are also underrepresented in the IdM Taskforce.

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University membership categories (Big or small? More or less?)

The purpose of the exercise was to identify generic/common groups of users (‘micro categories’) within HE that can be applied to a wide range of HE institutions, based on the role that group of users is given within the institution.  To help with the exercise the participants were asked to look at the membership categories identified by Cardiff University, the institution that has arguably done more work in this area than any other UK HE institution. The Cardiff model assumes that each member of Cardiff has one identity but can have multiple accounts/roles.

The participants were also asked to think about the most common user categories within HE (‘macro categories’).

Three ‘macro’ categories were identified: ‘Staff’, ‘Students’ and ‘Other’. The group struggled to find a suitable name for the third category. ‘Other’, ‘Associates’, ‘Miscellaneous’ have all been used in the past but none seems totally appropriate.

The most popular subcategories for:

  • Students– Undergraduate, Postgraduate, Partners UK, Partners International, Alumni
  • Staff – Staff on contracts of employment, Student Union staff, Honorary staff, Contractors
  • Other– Retired staff, Visitors, Staff at partner institutions

The definition of ‘staff’ (and ‘other’) generated considerable discussion. Is it anyone who has a contract of employment? Or is it anyone who has ever had a work relationship with the institution (doing ‘staffy’ things), including retired staff, contractors etc?

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Ownership of IdM within a university and the best ways of engaging with the key IdM owners

The aim of the exercise was to identify the key IdM stakeholders within an institution that have a senior IdM governance role and discuss the best ways of engaging with those individuals.

Three main roles were identified (with possible job titles) but it was acknowledged that it was also important to reach out to even higher level governance figures (CEOs, COOs, VC, Deputy VC etc), even if they only have  a sponsorship role:

  1. HR Director
  2. Head of Students Services
    1. Director of Students Services (Director of Academic Services)
    2. Academic Registrar
    3. Possibly Dean of Students/ Head of Student Experience/ PVC of Students (owns services for students, e.g. pastoral care, quality of student experience)
  3. Research/ Commercial relationships
    1. PVC of Research/ Business/ Knowledge
    2. Director/ Dean/ Head of Research
    3. Director of Business Engagement

The third group is particularly problematic to reach as it usually involves IdM governance for most user groups under the ‘Other’ category and can also be highly distributed within the institutional hierarchy (e.g. Heads of Departments, Innovation groups, Research groups etc).  This group may need a set of principles that can be applied by different representatives of this group, rather than a single briefing.

A number of ways of engaging with these stakeholders were suggested:

  • Use Universities UK and HEFCE (SFC in Scotland) ‘branding’, but not UCISA/SCONUL/Jisc branding due to a strong association with IT services. This would require help from senior Jisc individuals, as out of scope for these projects.
  • Using a case study (perhaps Cardiff) to produce a statement by a university VC/ CEO stressing key IdM benefits and issues that could be provided with the briefing to make it more relevant to the key audiences. Ideally.
  • Using ‘endorser’ quotes.
  • Drawing particular attention to risks and possible legal/ litigation implications of not doing IdM properly.
  • Clearly explaining opportunities, financial advantages, efficiency gains etc.

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Interaction of IdM/AIM systems with other institutional systems (e.g. VLE, LMS, Finance)

Once an institution has a fully operational IdM system, it is important to make sure that that system interoperates fully with other institutional systems, such as the HR, Finance, and Student Records systems.

Although the workshop provided some useful information, it is felt that the collected information is not sufficient and needs to be substituted with some relevant content from the Jisc IdM Toolkit (mainly Chapter 3: IdM Systems) and further consultation with the IdM Taskforce Group. However, it was acknowledged that as the list of systems that can interoperate with the IdM systems keeps expanding, it is not realistic to produce a definitive list. The way an institution might use its IdM system will be influenced by a number of factors, e.g. maturity and sophistication of the IdM system, staff expertise, financial and time constraints etc, and is likely to evolve over time.

This post was written by Masha Garibyan.