Closure Report

Project Summary


The scope of this project was to analyse the REF 2021 data requirements to inform further scope to extract and load data from existing systems into long term, accessible storage solutions, with potential to include from the Edinburgh Data Warehouse.

Due to core systems, this Business Analysis phase looked to establishing what data is required, retention periods required for REF2021 and identify appropriate solution(s) whereby required data can be stored during the transition period.

The focus was on HR and finance data held primarily in Oracle and E-Financials, this extended as the analysis phase completed and included contractual information stored in Sharepoint on staff record screenshots. The latter will reach its retention period for certain staff before the REF2021 submission date and audit period thus a longer-term storage solution is required until REF audit period has passed. For some categories of data a solution is required that will future-proof REF exercises beyond REF2021.

This scope was focused on data needs that relate directly to academic staff; research grants; and other aspects of the submission that are dependent on data derived from staff or meta-data about academic staff or grants in order to identify the data for submission.

Other aspects of data required for REF2021 were not in scope, for example data relating to impact case studies which is not directly related to staff members or research grants.


During planning the scope of this project was been defined to include the following:

  • Analysis of data required from E-Fin
  • Analysis of data required from HR
  • Analysis of data required for staff eligibility selection data
  • Analysis of data required for REF auditing data
  • Determine incoming and outgoing feeds to and from e-Fin and HR
  • The HR contracts (digital image files) that are stored in SharePoint correctly map from the existing and new ERP system to the new storage solution - in line with data that is required for the REF2021 submission

Out of Scope

This project was initiated to cover the analysis of specific REF data only, a further project will be initiated following completion of this project to implement the agreed solution for the storage of the data.









 Produce Business Requirements Document



          D1.1  Analysis of data required from e-Fin    IS Apps / GASP Yes


 Analysis of data required from HR


 IS Apps / GASP



 Document incoming and outgoing feeds to and from source systems                                   


 IS Apps / GASP

          D1.4  Business Requirements Document    IS Apps / GASP    Yes
 O2  Produce Options Paper outlining solutions for REF2021  MUST    
          D2.1  Define and document "As Is" Processes    IS Apps / GASP Yes
          D2.2  Define and document "To Be" Processes    IS Apps /GASP Partially
          D2.3  Options paper outlining solutions for REF2021 submission    IS Apps /GASP Yes
          D2.4  Agreed solution for storage of data for REF2021 submission    IS Apps / GASP Yes


Benefits and Success Criteria

The tables below shows the success criteria and benefits that were identified during planning and their outcomes. 


Success Criteria Met
Streamline of data from required systems into software for analysis and into Pure for REF submission Yes
Current processes will be documented Yes
New processes will be defined and documented Partially, some of the ToBe will be completed in the follow on project.
A system architecture solution that ensures the uninterrupted supply of data required for the REF2021 process (including post-submission audits) is agreed Yes
Provisions for the supply of historic data required for the next REF process are agreed This references the REF2028 submission which was not in scope of this project. However a solution has been identified but not yet progressed towards implementation.
Benefits Status
A solution for the storing the data for the REF2021 submission will be approved Achieved
The current business processes will be documented Achieved
The future business processes will be documented Partially, some of the ToBe will be completed in the follow on project.
Definition of data requirements for REF 2021 submission will be defined Achieved
Any adaptations that are required for CORE systems will be presented to the CORE Systems Programme

No adaptations required as such, agreement has been reached with Core Systems about access to read only HR data from legacy HR system. This read only access will not be indefinite but for a limited time period, yet to be decided.

The key point was understanding the dates for Core implementation.


Analysis of Resource Usage:

RIS008 Budget Breakdown
Project stage Days
Proposal budget 50
Planning budget 30
Current budget 103
Effort to date 86
2018/19 62
2019/20 24

The project should complete with about 90 days

The diagram below shows the breakdown across the main areas of activity

Explanation for Variance

Several project roles were changed during the project. One of the key roles, the business analyst, was changed due to staffing issues when the BRD was well advanced. This resulted in the new BA requiring time and effort to get up to speed with the complex material as well as thoroughly reviewing the draft BRD. Also the initial project manager was replaced at a time when PM resources were particularly tight. With hindsight, the PM who pick up the project did not have as much time available as would have been needed for the project. Finally, in order to support the revised options paper a prototype was developed for automated data capture, this was not in the original estimate.


This in year project, requested by GaSP, has delivered a comprehensive requirements document and two options papers. The ToBe process documentation has not been completed in this project but will be done in the follow on project starting in January 2020. The project has identified a great solution for capturing the required staff data for the REF2021 audit. 

Key Learning Points

  • The initial options paper was produced before the requirements were documented. This was requested in order to get an idea of the implementation cost but was too early in the project process to deliver the most accurate options appraisal. This also resulted in a lot of less discussion in various areas, which could have been avoided. 
  • The project manager must have adequate time to dedicate to the project 
  • There was a delay of several weeks getting feedback from Core Systems on the revised options paper. Going forward it is recommended that a member of the Core Systems team a project team member for the implementation. This will pick up any concerns from Core as well as offering a more transparent information flow between both projects. 
  • It is important to understand the dependencies/ timescales between Core Systems and REF2021. This will be monitored closely at REF2021 Portfolio Level. The implementation project will be given the required priority to meet REF2021 timescales.

Outstanding Issues

The ToBe process diagrams will now be completed in the next project.


Project Info

REF2021 Data Requirements Analysis
Research Information Systems (RIS)
Management Office
Project Manager
Tim Gray
Project Sponsor
Jacqueline McMahon
Current Stage
Project Classification
Start Date
Planning Date
Delivery Date
Close Date
Programme Priority
Overall Priority