Nikki Rogers' blog describing EA activity at the University of Bristol

Data Modelling

Master Data, Data Integration and a JISC Project

We’re very pleased to have been awarded a project under the JISC Transformations Programme.

Snapshot of JISC Transformations Programme WebsiteDuring the project we plan to use JISC resources such as the ICT Strategic Toolkit along with the support of the JISC Transformations programme and continued development of our institutional Enterprise Architecture approach to tackle the problem of achieving full integration of our various learning, teaching and research systems. We are in the process of documenting our core “master” data model and mapping the interrelationship of the data models implemented in our wide-ranging systems. This is because we need to consider how we may improve the sustainability of data exchange between systems without an on-going reliance on multiple point-to-point systems integrations – integrations that are resource-intensive and complex to maintain.

By core data model I mean the data model that is core to the business of the University and that is relatively unchanging over time. We are modelling entities such as Student, Programme, Unit, Researcher, Department, Research Output etc. and the relationships between them. We are also working on the classification schemes we use such as to define the University structure for faculties, schools and departments (this is currently undergoing a standarisation process internally). Documenting this data model – and maintaining a version-controICT Maturity over timelled history of it over time – will mean that our developers will be able to make reference to the core data model when developing new system solutions (thus avoiding potential ambiguity in the way information is shared between systems and with end-users), and we will be able to be clear about how new, external systems will need to be integrated to fit with our core data model. Finally, implementing integration support at the middleware layer will take us further on the road to ICT Maturity. We are currently somewhere between the stages of “technology standardisation” and “optimised core” as illustrated in the diagram.

Requirements are being driven by several large-scale projects at the University of Bristol including the Managing Information Project (with its emphasis on business intelligence), the Performance Enhancement Project (which seeks to provide better quality data to support our staff review and progression processes) and the University Web Project (which focuses on providing new and improved public Web content following the recent purchase of our new Content Management System).

Please see the blog for the project (, where more info will appear over time.