Change Management


The draft recommendations for an approach to managing consistency and accuracy of HECoS are as follows.

Please comment on matters such as priority, relevance, clarity, and sufficiency. Please also comment on a desirable frequency of change, lead times, etc.

Recommendation 4
The NSCS Project recommends establishing a system that allows users to code their courses to an existing HECoS term, but also enables them to add a new proposed or candidate term.

Recommendation 5
In order to facilitate this change management process, the NSCS Project recommends setting up a candidate terms registry to gather new terms for inclusion in HECoS.

Recommendation 6
In order to strike a balance between flexibility and stability, it is recommended that the HECoS governing body should undertake an annual review of the coding scheme.  The annual review should be undertaken by the Secretariat and should consider changes to definitions, scope notes and navigation structures, the impact of adopting new candidate terms and deprecating obsolete terms, and the overall level of change to the coding scheme.  Any substantive changes to the coding scheme should have a one year lead time.  Administrative changes to scope notes and navigation structures should be undertaken by the Secretariat.  Substantive changes to definitions, and proposals for the adoption of candidate terms and the deprecation of obsolete terms, should be presented to the Board of Governors who must approve the changes and ensure that they are undertaken within an acceptable implementation timetable.

Additional Details

In order to balance a need to be agile in incorporating emerging new subjects with the need to provide stability, HECoS will use a new term request process. The essence of the process is that new terms can be recorded on a dedicated system quickly, and if they’re proven to be widely needed, they can be included in HECoS.

In detail, the new term request process works as follows:

  • a coder needs to classify a new degree programme
  • the coder finds that none of the current HECoS terms adequately covers the new degree programme
  • on a registry website, the coder enters the title of the new degree programme, and the current HECoS term it is classified with
  • the coder looks for a suitable term among those already suggested by others – if there is one, that gets saved as well.
  • if there isn’t one, the coder can add a new term, and it will be saved alongside the degree programme title and the existing HECoS term that was used to classify the programme in data returns
  • if there is enough evident need for a candidate term, and following a review by the HECoS governance body, it can be added to the vocabulary

From the perspective of a coder, the process looks like this:

A diagram of the new term process

Two questions arise.

Question 1
Does the process outlined above satisfactorily meet the need for HECoS users to propose new terms?

Question 2
The second question concerns the threshold which the HECoS governance process might use to signal candidacy as a new term, prior to assessment against the quality criteria indicated on our Subject Scheme page. How many independent HEps should have proposed a new term in order for that term to be evaluated for HECoS? One HEp, two HEps, three HEps, more than three?

This is one of a set of pages seeking comment on the draft Governance Model.


One thought on “Change Management

  1. In general the principles of change management advocated above seem sufficient. However we feel that there are two areas for improvement;
    – Firstly while we realise the need for adequate time for consultation and consideration, the lead in time of one year may be too long if a proposed term cannot be used in the interim for reporting purposes. For example in the interim a term could be non-preferred and related to an existing one. We ask that this be reconsidered to identify whether a more flexible time frame could be introduced for certain types of change.
    – Secondly does the approval of ‘adoption of candidate terms’ and the ‘deprecation of obsolete terms’ need to reside at board of governors level. While we agree there may be a need for senior level accountability the actual operational activity should reside at secretariat level supported by a senior level manager. If the operational process of review, impact analysis, consultation and discussion is robust enough then the senior level sign-off should be simply one of agreement. I know from Historic England that the acceptance of candidate terms is undertaken by a terminology working group made up of appropriate representatives at an operational level. The same should follow here with perhaps a senior manager chairing it. This group should meet regularly.

    There should be no threshold to signal candidacy for a new term as any new candidate term proposed should be reviewed and considered. However the mechanism should allow for informal consideration before a formal proposal is put forward to weed out any ones that would not be justified e.g. where a user has missed an alternative. The number of HEPs proposing/in support of a candidate term might lead to some evidence that it should be adopted, indeed with over 115 HEIs attempting to set a threshold for consideration / acceptance is probably not worth trying to resolve.

    The key idea here is to have a flexible and responsive change management process which meets with the requirements of the HEP community in an efficient, effective and timely manner.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s